Hotel trade groups sue San Francisco over cleaning order

|
The Mark Hopkins Hotel and the San Francisco skyline.
The Mark Hopkins Hotel and the San Francisco skyline. Photo Credit: SnapASkyline/Shutterstock.com

Three hospitality trade groups have filed a lawsuit against the County of San Francisco, claiming that a new hotel cleaning ordinance puts significant financial pressures on property owners and threatens employee safety.

Signed into law by San Francisco Mayor London Breed on July 17, the “Healthy Buildings” ordinance mandates strict cleaning protocols for large commercial office buildings and hotels, requiring the latter to implement daily guestroom cleanings and frequent disinfection of various surfaces and fixtures.

The Hotel Council of San Francisco, the California Hotel and Lodging Association and the American Hotel & Lodging Association argue that many of the ordinance’s cleaning regulations are “costly and unnecessary” and endanger staff by increasing employee contact with guests. 

The three organizations filed their suit against the county on July 20, asking the County of San Francisco to declare the ordinance unlawful and unenforceable.  

California Hotel and Lodging Association CEO Lynn Mohrfeld said the group’s top concern is the county’s daily housekeeping requirement.

“We don’t think that’s safe for our employees,” said Mohrfeld. “We don’t think they want to do that, and we don’t think guests want that right now. Nobody else is requiring that. And while a guest can opt out [of daily housekeeping], we really can’t encourage them or give them any incentive to opt out.”

Mohrfeld added that because San Francisco is one of five California jurisdictions still not open to leisure travel, the vast majority of guests currently staying at hotels across the county are first responders, medical personnel, transportation workers and other “populations that are more at risk of transmitting Covid-19.”

The lawsuit also alleges that requirements around frequent cleanings of hotel spaces, surfaces and fixtures are “overreach,” with Mohrfeld calling these particular protocols “undefined and unclear.”

“They talk about cleaning things like ceilings, and even meeting rooms, which are all closed right now,” said Mohrfeld. “We’re supposed to clean those multiple times a day when no one is accessing them. Another example is door handles, which we’re already cleaning in high-contact areas on a regular basis. But under this ordinance, a hotel in San Francisco with 15% occupancy, with floors and floors of rooms not in service, will need to clean each room’s [exterior and interior] door handles multiple times a day. It doesn’t make much sense.”

The California Hotel and Lodging Association estimates that the additional cleaning protocols will cost San Francisco’s 215 hotels $220,000 each on average, adding a total of more than $47 million in annual industry costs. Those expenses, the group argues, will likely have the knock-on effect of extending hotel closures and unemployment.

“They’re throwing more and more costs on top of hotels at a time when they just don’t have any money,” said Mohrfeld. “The ones that are closed are going to stay closed longer, and that means their employees are going to be out of work longer.”

Comments

From Our Partners


From Our Partners

The Latest in Las Vegas
The Latest in Las Vegas
Watch Now
The Mexico Advisor
The Mexico Advisor
Read More
Historic Highlights of Germany Guide
Historic Highlights of Germany Guide
Read More

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI