Hotels Boost Bed Tax to Fund Tourism, Arts

From Times Staff Reports

After a months-long campaign to boost Laguna Beach's image as a cultural destination while helping the artists who shape its personality, the city's hotels will increase their bed taxes from 10% to 12% beginning July 1.

A measure signed Tuesday creates a special business district encompassing the city's 26 hotels, motels, inns, and bed and breakfasts, all but three of which recently voted to assess themselves the higher tax.

Mayor Paul Freeman, a leading proponent, estimates the tax will initially generate $640,000 annually--an amount that would double once the Treasure Island resort is complete.

Half of the new funds will go to the Visitors Bureau to market Laguna Beach as a destination for cultural tourism. The city Arts Commission, the Art Institute of Southern California, the Laguna Art Museum and Laguna Playhouse each would get $80,000.

The $157,000 that the Visitors Bureau already gets from the city annually would go back to the city, to be used for the arts or other critical needs. Artists should start seeing direct benefits by the fall.

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