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Posted on: June 27, 2023

Anaheim orders Oct. 3 special election for hotel, event worker wage initiative

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (June 27, 2023) — Anaheim has ordered Oct. 3 for a special election on a hotel and event worker wage initiative.


The City Council decision will put the initiative before Anaheim voters as a standalone ballot item with a summary description and a “yes” or “no” option.

A majority of the Council also voted separately to submit an argument against the initiative.


The initiative calls for hotels and event centers to pay a minimum starting wage of $25 per hour, among other provisions.


The initiative would apply to all hotels and motels and event centers of 20,000 square feet or larger.


It would apply to the city of Anaheim as owner and operator of the Anaheim Convention Center and owner of Angel Stadium of Anaheim, Honda Center and City National Grove of Anaheim.


Along with wages, the initiative would limit hotel housekeepers to cleaning no more than 4,000 square feet of space in hotels with fewer than 60 rooms and no more than 3,500 square feet in hotels with 60 rooms or more, unless they are paid double their daily pay. 


Also included are provisions requiring security devices and overtime pay.


The initiative, supported by the Unite Here Local 11 hotel worker union, was circulated for signatures of registered Anaheim voters earlier this year and was certified by the Orange County Registrar of Voters on April 26.


Proponents of the initiative submitted 27,215 signatures with 16,842 verified signatures of registered Anaheim voters needed for certification.


You can read the full initiative here.


Special election date


The Oct. 3 special election date is updated from initial consideration of Sept. 12 from the Council’s June 13 meeting.


The change comes after input from the Orange County Registrar of Voters, which oversees elections in Anaheim and across the county.


The Registrar of Voters recommended Oct. 3 to allow for filing of arguments and rebuttals, printing a voter information guide, sending out mail ballots, opening vote centers and other requirements.


The city will work with the Registrar of Voters to open vote centers at community centers and other locations 10 days prior to and on Oct. 3 and to have ballot drop boxes in place 29 days prior to and on Oct. 3.


A special election is estimated to cost $1.5 million to $1.6 million and will be paid for by the city using funds available in its upcoming budget for the 12 months through June 2024.


The Council had the option of placing the initiative on the Nov. 5, 2024, general election ballot at a cost of $198,891 to $233,265.


A majority of Council members declined the November 2024 option, citing a need to address the initiative’s workplace implications and economic concerns sooner than that. 


The Oct. 3 special election date was criticized by representatives of initiative supporter Unite Here, with representatives asserting the special election needed to be set at the June 13 meeting and that they prefer to see the initiative on the November 2024 general election ballot.


The city of Anaheim disagrees with the assertion, with the June 27 ordering of an Oct. 3 special election permitted under the California Election Code.


Fiscal analysis


Reports commissioned by the city forecast fiscal and economic impacts from the initiative.


The city-owned Anaheim Convention Center could see increased yearly wage costs and other impacts of up to $8.6 million a year, which could lead to less funding for city services from convention visitors, according to one report.


You can read the report here.


With impacts to hotels, Anaheim could see $4 million less in hotel-tax revenue by 2028 if the initiative were adopted, according a second report.


The report cites limited long-term ability of hotels to raise rates, reduced demand and hotel occupancy and less to no growth in the number of hotel rooms in the city as investors opt for other markets to finance new hotels.


You can see the report here.


Worker safety ordinance


The City Council on Tuesday also cast a second and final vote to adopt a worker safety ordinance that requires hotels to provide electronic security alarms to those working in hotel rooms and restrooms as well as alarm monitoring and response.


The ordinance, which takes effect Jan. 1, also requires reporting of incidents to hotel management for tracking and remedying, notifying guests of security policies at check-in with warning that violations will result in removal at their own cost, and paid time for training and to report incidents to Anaheim Police.


The ordinance includes worker safety provisions from the proposed initiative and goes further with notifications and warnings to guests.


But, unlike the initiative, it does not cover a minimum wage or working conditions.


You can read about the worker safety ordinance here.

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