You may have heard about a ballot initiative called “Land Use and Replacement Housing Requirements for Hotel Developers,” which will be on the ballot in 2024. If approved by the voters, this initiative would require all hotel owners in Los Angeles to make vacant rooms available to the unhoused on a daily basis.
Some misleading reporting about this initiative suggested that this was an idea being taken up by the Council. It is not. This initiative proposal did not originate with the City Council. It came from a group that circulated a petition and gathered enough citizen signatures to qualify this measure for the ballot. Under the City Charter, when such a petition has enough signatures, the Council has only two options:
- the Council may place the measure on a ballot for the voters to decide; or
- the Council may choose to enact the proposal as city law, as is, immediately.
In this case, the Council chose not to enact the proposal. In fact, not a single member of the Council even suggested enacting the ordinance. Instead, the Council chose its only other option – to put the question before the voters in the 2024 election. The Council does not have the legal option of ignoring or voting to defeat an initiative proposal that has enough qualifying signatures.
Initiative petitions like this one require no hearings, no discussion, no public input, and no research or study to determine what the effects of the law would be. Even worse, there is no opportunity for anyone to make amendments to an initiative ordinance to fix the law’s defects, other than going back to the voters again in a future election.
“In my view this is a terrible way to write a law,” said Councilmember Krekorian in his reply to constituents’ concerns. “But this is what happens when enough people unthinkingly sign a petition that a stranger hands them at the grocery store.”