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Council OKs `living wage' for LAX hotels

The higher pay level will apply to workers at inns near the airport. An appeal is promised.

February 22, 2007|Joe Mathews | Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles City Council gave final approval Wednesday to an ordinance that will for the first time extend the city's "living wage" requirement of $10.64 an hour to workers at a dozen hotels on the Century Boulevard corridor near LAX -- the first time the protection has been applied to businesses that do not contract directly with the city.

The ordinance was approved without debate on a 10-3 vote with council members Bernard C. Parks, Greig Smith and Dennis Zine in opposition.

The vote sets up a legal fight. Harvey Englander, a spokesman for the hotels, said Wednesday that the ordinance would be challenged in court once the mayor signed the law.

The council passed an ordinance last fall that extended the living wage to the hotels but rescinded it after the hotels and business community gathered enough signatures to qualify a referendum for the ballot.

Instead, the council produced a new ordinance -- the one passed Wednesday -- that included not only the living wage extension but also a variety of economic incentives for businesses near Los Angeles International Airport.

The hotels opposed the measure and are expected to ask a court to throw out the new ordinance.

The case is expected to turn on the question of whether the new ordinance is "substantially different" than the previous, rescinded ordinance.

Some legal experts have said that a city council cannot simply rescind a law to avoid a referendum vote and then replace it with something that is essentially the same.

joe.mathews@latimes.com

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