The Los Angeles City Council has voted to name, shame, and even “commandeer” hotels that refuse to house the homeless during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Progressive derision for free enterprise and private property rights are well-known at this point. Even so, such a vote could have a devastating impact on the local economy in one of the most progressive cities in the world. Beyond that, it could set a very dangerous precedent for what governments are allowed to do during times of crisis — or even without an emergency to use an excuse.
“If hotels are making a distinction among people classifying housed and unhoused differently in terms of accommodations that they’re going to be repaid for, that the city and county will pay for with reimbursements, then I think there’s a potential civil rights violation,” LA Councilman Mike Bonin said. “If the problems are on the hotel end, the public should know why, and then we should consider commandeering as they’ve talked about in other cities.”
Granted, the desire to house elderly, homeless people who are particularly susceptible to the novel coronavirus is a noble one, and hundreds of hotels in LA county have agreed to partner with the city to do just that. In return, the city is covering the cost of room rentals, and has pledged to pay for property damage any homeless individuals may cause. This agreement has made it possible for these hotels to hire back workers, and turn a minimal profit at a time when tourism is non-existent.
However, up until now, the arrangement has been voluntary. Some hotels have refused to participate in the program, and many have good reasons for doing so. In some instances, hotels that were considering participating were protested against by nearby homeowners who didn’t want potentially sick, homeless people setting up camp right next to them. In one instance, a hotel had already made arrangements to house healthcare personnel, and the hospital threatened to move its personnel out if the hotel agreed to house homeless individuals.
The truth is it doesn’t really matter why some hotels are refusing to house the homeless – hotel owners have every right to decide how their property is used. This applies not only in normal times but also during a crisis. Sadly, the LA City Council doesn’t see it that way. Councilman Mitch O’Farrel has called for hotels that refuse to house the homeless to be investigated to see if they’ve received tax breaks from the city in recent years. He went on to assert that the city is completely justified in expecting “something back” during an emergency — as if the hotels owed the city a favor for getting its own income returned.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed a totalitarian streak in many liberal politicians. As always, California is leading the way…