Airport area hotel owners on Wednesday filed a lawsuit challenging the city of L.A.'s imposition of a living wage ordinance on their hotels and won an immediate stay of the measure.

The hotel owners and several signers of a referendum that was aimed at overturning the city's extension of the living wage law to 12 airport area hotels filed their lawsuit Wednesday morning in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Judge Dzintra Janavs who two months ago ruled against Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's plan to assume more control over the Los Angeles Unified School District granted an immediate stay of the ordinance, which was slated to go into effect around April 1. The stay is in effect until at least May 11, the date Janavs set for a hearing on the merits of the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that the city violated state election law by crafting a replacement ordinance not substantially different than the original ordinance. That ordinance was pulled when the city, living wage advocates and business leaders reached a compromise in which business concerns were to be incorporated into the replacement ordinance.

But business leaders renounced the agreement when details of the replacement ordinance became clear, especially the retention of the provision requiring hotel owners to pay all their workers the living wage.

Hotel spokesman Harvey Englander said the plaintiffs were encouraged by Judge Janavs' line of questioning at Wednesday's hearing. Living wage proponents, meanwhile, have scheduled a rally for Thursday to drum up support for the living wage proposal.

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