Costa Mesa's recent proclamation declaring itself a "rule of law" city in regards to illegal immigration nearly cost one hotel an upcoming conference, three sources with knowledge of the event said.
A representative from the California State Employees Assn. Retirees Inc. called the hotel's reservation department last week and asked about the financial ramifications should the board yank its reservations for a two-day meeting there in mid-August, the sources said.
Contacted Friday, Dan Fitzgerald, director of sales for the Hilton Orange County in Costa Mesa, confirmed that a group planning a conference inquired about cancelling its reservation over concerns about the city's stance on illegal immigration. Fitzgerald declined to name the party, but a state official confirmed it was the retiree association.
The group was told it would be "100% responsible" for the 25 rooms over four nights, at about $8,400, and at least $2,000 for the food and beverages, Fitzgerald said.
The party retained its reservation, he said.
"These small meetings, and regular meetings, are our bread and butter," Fitzgerald said. "We have nothing to do with politics or immigration or anything like that."
Roger Marxen, president of the board for the retirees group, declined to comment through his communications director, Trinida Lundholm.
"We have absolutely no intention of getting involved in these issues," Lundholm said. "We made these reservations a year ago, and it would cost thousands of dollars [to cancel], and we're not getting involved."
Though largely symbolic, the city's declaration essentially says that illegal immigrants are, in accordance with federal law, unwelcome in Costa Mesa.
The potential revenue loss frustrates Ed Fawcett, president and chief executive of the Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce. "I think the mayors of Costa Mesa and Los Angeles should just … run their cities like they're supposed to," Fawcett said, referring to L.A.'s Antonio Villaraigosa and Costa Mesa's Allan Mansoor.
The two politicians are "polar extremes" on the issue, he said, "and the people in the middle are getting all chewed up."
Mansoor, a Republican running for state Assembly, is an outspoken opponent of the presence of illegal immigrants in Costa Mesa. He defended the policy, saying it is drawing visitors to the city.