Parking facilities

Minimum wage for hotel workers, public votes on developments

Voters in Laguna Beach will decide whether major developments and hotel renovations should be put to a public vote for approval and to raise the minimum wage for hotel workers in the city in the Nov. 8 election.


The measure would put major development proposals along the Coastal Highway and Laguna Canyon Road to a public vote for approval.

A row of shops faces Main Beach in Laguna Beach, Calif., on Nov. 18, 2020. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

This would apply to proposals that go beyond the following:

  • 36 feet tall
  • 22,000 square feet on the ground
  • 200 additional daily trips by vehicle
  • Lots over 7,500 square feet

Proposals for single family homes, 100% affordable housing, K-12 schools, hospitals and churches would be exempt.

The initiative was put forward by Laguna Residents First, a grassroots political action committee, and qualified for the January ballot, according to the city clerk.

Proponents of the measure say it will prevent overdevelopment in the city, thereby preserving residents’ quality of life, and allow voters to be involved in decisions about projects taking place in their neighborhoods.

Those opposed, including the city’s mayor and police chief, say it would discourage development and updates to decades-old facilities and affect the renovation of small businesses, such as salons. , restaurants and cafes.

The Laguna Beach City Council in July voted 3-0 against the ballot measure, with Councilmen Toni Iseman and George Weiss abstaining.


The measure would require all new hotel developments and major renovations to existing hotels along the Coast Road and Laguna Canyon Road to be subject to density, parking and open space restrictions.

Any hotel development exceeding these restrictions would be subject to a public vote for approval.

Epoch Times Photo
Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach, Calif., Oct. 15, 2020. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

These standards are among the following for new hotels:

  • One hotel room per 800 square feet
  • 1.5 parking spaces for each room, plus one space for 15 rooms and two spaces for residences
  • 35% of the non-residential floor area of ​​the hotel must be accessible to the public, excluding parking and walkways

For existing hotels, renovations exceeding 15% of the following standards, over a 5-year period, would trigger a public vote:

  • Exterior walls
  • Roofs and floors, excluding eaves and terraces
  • 15 percent expansion of building area
  • Construction costs equivalent to 15% of existing buildings

The initiative was put forward by Unite Here 11 – a local union representing workers in hospitality, catering, transport and textile manufacturing – and qualified for the April ballot, according to the clerk of the city.

Proponents of the measure, including some residents and hotel workers, say it would allow for better regulation of hotel developments in the city and allow residents to get involved in what is happening in the city.

Those who oppose it, including the mayor, the president of the mayor’s interim chamber of commerce and hotel managers, say it subjects local hotel developments to an onerous process that could threaten property repairs and lead to dilapidated hotel complexes.

The city council voted in July 5-0 against the ballot measure.


The measure would raise the minimum wage for hospitality workers to $18 an hour, increasing by $1 a year through 2026.

That’s up from the current minimum wage, which is $14 for employers with 25 or fewer employees, or $15 an hour for those with more.

The measure, if approved, would also limit the amount of rooms workers can be asked to clean. In hotels with fewer than 40 rooms, workers would be required to clean more than 4,000 square feet of floor space per day and 3,500 square feet per day for larger hotels.

Epoch Times Photo
The Coast Inn in Laguna Beach, Calif., on Oct. 15, 2020. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

It would also limit overtime to a maximum of 10 hours a day, unless the hotel worker agrees in writing.

The proposed measure also requires hotels to equip housekeepers with “panic buttons,” a device that can provide immediate help when someone feels threatened.

The measure was also put forward by Unite Here 11 and qualified for the ballot in April, according to the city clerk.

Supporters of the measure, including Councilman George Weiss and some hotel employees and residents, say that with the current salary, hotel employees are struggling to make ends meet and that most workers do not live in the city due to the inflated cost of living. .

They also say housekeepers need a panic button because they work alone in a room most of the time and are vulnerable to threats, such as sexual assault.

However, opponents of the measure – including the mayor, the acting mayor, the president of the chamber of commerce and hotel managers – say that the compensation workers currently receive already exceeds the minimum wage threshold required by the measure. They say the union is taking this opportunity to collect new union dues.

Additionally, they say that hotels in the city are already providing workers with panic devices.

City Council in July voted 4-0 against the ballot measure, with Councilman Weiss abstaining.

Sophie Li


John Smith

The author John Smith