I read with interest that the Santa Monica City Council has decided to raise the bed tax to 12%, the level currently charged by Los Angeles.
Increasing the city bed tax at will to fill the coffers of the General Fund is, in my opinion, irresponsible. Any bed tax collected should be used to promote tourism and not pet projects of the council members.
According to Mayor (Dennis) Zane, approving hotel construction is not to lure tourists and businessmen to stay in Santa Monica but to create new sources of income for the General Fund. This means that those funds are being used for other purposes not at all related to tourist promotion. The bed tax is a tax every city official dreams about. After all, they may feel that those who pay for it don’t live here and, therefore, can’t vote in their elections.
One only needs to look next door to the city of Los Angeles, where that council, with Mayor Bradley’s endorsement, continues to collect 4% of the bed tax for the 1984 Olympic Games. This tax had a “sunset clause” and was to expire after the Games. This is taxation without representation.
Hotel people are very concerned about this. They spend large amounts of money to bring guests to their properties and communities. Although they may be a minority, the general economy of the city depends greatly upon their ability to attract travelers who can provide additional business for merchants and, therefore, more jobs for local citizens.
Let us not forget the fact that the hospitality industry is the largest employer of minorities and semi-skilled labor. All merchants are affected if the hospitality industry loses business due to outlandish room taxes.
I believe that an increase in the bed tax is unjustified and is an unnecessary burden to the hotel industry as well as visitors to Santa Monica.