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So Called “Healthy Buildings” Ordinance Would Cost Hotel & Commercial Building Owners Millions to Implement
Will Keep 10,000 Hotel Workers from Returning to Work
SF Supervisors Slated to Impose Redundant Standards on Industry Already Reeling Under COVID Economic Downturn
Ordinance Would Exempt Government Buildings Including SF City Hall
6 July 2020 — San Francisco, CA: In the midst of the unprecedented health and economic crisis when politicians should be listening more than talking, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is set to vote into law a redundant and dangerous piece of legislation that will cost hotels and commercial buildings tens of millions of dollars while at the same time exempting those same buildings in which they pass such legislation. The so-called “Healthy Buildings” ordinance is slated to be voted on by the full San Francisco Board of Supervisors tomorrow, July 7, during their regular session. Pushed by organized labor, the ordinance mandates additional hiring during a time when all such employees are already out of work due to the COVID-forced economic downturn. At present, hotels in San Francisco will not reopen to tourism until mid-August and many office buildings in downtown San Francisco are at less than 10% occupancy.
“The ordinance imposes significant financial burdens to implement, puts our employees at greater health risks by demanding they enter rooms more frequently and further delays hotels’ ability to reopen for tourism,” said Kevin Carroll, President and CEO of the Hotel Council of San Francisco. “No industry is more capable of implementing health, hygiene and safety protocols than the hospitality industry.”
California’s Employment Development Department reported July 1 that 10,484 San Francisco hotel workers were laid off or furloughed from 54 hotels. San Francisco has delayed reopening of hotels until mid-August at the earliest. Complying with the proposed ordinance will increase costs for hotels delaying further their re-openings, already an uncertainty as guests are slow to resume travel.
The so-called “Healthy Buildings” ordinance was written by and pushed by members of San Francisco’s Union Local # 2 and would mandate additional cleaning of rooms and public spaces in hotels even though new COVID-19 protocols from the Hotel Council of San Francisco, working in concert with multiple health and safety experts, already exceed CDC guidelines. “The well-being of our employees is paramount for the well-being of our guests,’’ Carroll added. “The guidelines our hotels have implemented follow the recommendations from national and state infectious disease experts to ensure our employees safety.”
Additionally, the proposed ordinance will adversely impact office buildings. “The ordinance is plainly redundant when we have guidance from agencies such as Cal/OSHA and the California Department of Public Health covering the same topics,” said Marc Intermaggio, Executive Vice President for the Building Owners & Managers Association (BOMA). “Having multiple authorities issuing guidance and standards is confusing and accomplishes little. The other agencies are the ones tasked by law with issuing this type of guidance and they have done so and the City should be aligned with these health authorities.”
If put into law, the ordinance would add hundreds of thousands of dollars – per month – to business owners in downtown San Francisco. The cost on an annual basis would be in the tens of millions of dollars, all at a time when due to COVID roughly 90% of all commercial buildings are now empty. According to BOMA, the increased costs would likely force further layoffs as the reduced occupancy of buildings continues across 2020 and into 2021.
“This is not the year and now is not the time for un-needed and redundant legislation that will keep our hotel community and tourism based economy from recovering,” said Rodney Fong, President & CEO of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce . “We urge the Board of Supervisors re-think this misguided ordinance.”
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