Airport area hotels won a major victory Friday when a Los Angeles Superior Court judge released a ruling that struck down a Los Angeles city ordinance requiring the hotels to pay their workers the city's living wage.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Yaffe called the ordinance enacted by the L.A. City Council in February essentially the same as an earlier version that hotels had challenged and gathered enough signatures to place on the ballot as a referendum. State law prohibits municipal governments that rescind ordinances facing a referendum challenge from afterward passing an ordinance that contains the same key points at issue.
"The new ordinance is not essentially different from the old ordinance It imposes the same minimum wage requirements on the same hotels in the same area as the old ordinance. Every requirement contained in the old ordinance is repeated in the new ordinance," Yaffe wrote in the decision, dated May 2 but not released until Friday.
The decision was greeted with relief from hotel owners, since it removes the prospect that they would have to pay their workers the city living wage of $9.39 an hour with benefits or $10.64 an hour without benefits as of July 1.
"Today's court decision upheld the rights of over 100,000 Los Angeles voters who signed the referendum petition. Moving forward, we hope to find ways we can work together with city leaders, the business community, and our employees to improve the quality of life for all working families in Los Angeles," said Ruben Gonzales, spokesperson for the Hotel Association of Los Angeles.
Ordinance author and L.A. City Councilwoman Janice Hahn called on City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo to appeal the decision..
"The judge's decision is shocking to me and I expect the City Attorney to appeal. We should stop at nothing to ensure that the hotel workers along the Century corridor are treated with dignity and respect," she said.
However, Hahn also said that if there is no appeal or the appeal is unsuccessful the ordinance should simply go to a referendum vote.
"I still believe that we should have allowed the voters of Los Angeles to make this decision, and perhaps we still should. Polls showed us that voters are overwhelmingly on the side of the workers and I am confident that we could win this battle in the court of public opinion," she said.
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