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Hotels File Lawsuit to Block San Francisco's Healthy Buildings Ordinance

by Scott Donald, Irvine, August 2020

 

In an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors approved an ordinance requiring stringent new cleaning standards for hotels and commercial office buildings. A pending vote could make the cleaning protocols permanent.

 

Hotel industry groups subsequently sued the city. The Hotel Council of San Francisco, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, and the California Hotel & Lodging Association are plaintiffs in a lawsuit seeking to block enforcement of the new ordinance.

 

Healthy Buildings

 

The Healthy Buildings ordinance requires hotels and large office buildings to clean and disinfect high-contact areas and surfaces multiple times per day, keep logs of every cleaning cycle, provide employees with protective gear, and prohibit retaliation against workers who complain about health risks. The ordinance also mandates repeated cleanings of low-touch walls and chandeliers.

 

"The Healthy Buildings ordinance is estimated to
add more than $47 million in annual costs for San Francisco hotels."

 

The requirements exceed guidelines established by industry groups and the Centers for Disease Control.

 

Economic Hardships

 

The Healthy Buildings ordinance is estimated to add more than $47 million in annual costs for San Francisco hotels, according to an analysis sponsored by the Hotel Council.

 

Since mid-March when San Francisco’s shelter-in-place order was first issued, hundreds of hotels have remained closed and occupancy rates has fallen below 10%. CBRE Hotels has projected 2020 will be the worst year on record for hotel occupancy.

 

“This dangerous ordinance contradicts the advice of public health experts and would cause enormous economic hardship to our already struggling hotels trying to keep employees on the payroll,” Hotel Council of San Francisco CEO Kevin Carroll said at a news conference.

 

If the hotel associations win their lawsuit, the Healthy Buildings ordinance will be abolished. However, if the city wins, other cities could pursue similar legislation.