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S.F. Advances Cleaning Bill Blasted By CRE Players

The fate of an emergency building cleaning standards ordinance backed by unions and opposed by hotel operators rests in the hands of San Francisco Mayor London Breed

Loews Regency San Francisco

On Tuesday, San Francisco's Board of Supervisors voted to pass the Healthy Buildings Ordinance, which, if signed by Breed, would dramatically intensify cleaning standards for the city's hotels and large commercial office buildings. 

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the legislation, which applies to tourist hotels of six or more rooms and office buildings of over 50K SF, seeks to mandate cleaning standards reflected in guidance this month from California's Departments of Public Health and Industrial Relations.

New requirements would include daily extensive cleaning of building areas like lobbies, hallways, elevators, stairwells and many others, as well as paid training for employees tasked with such efforts.

Advocates include Unite Here Local 2, a hotel workers union, which describes the bill as an important step for workers' safety and the overall success of San Francisco's hospitality industry, which the organization says has seen 98% of its workforce laid off

“By setting the country’s strongest standards for hotel reopening, San Francisco has positioned itself as the top destination for travelers concerned with cleaning and safety after COVID-19,” Anand Singh, president of Unite Here Local 2, said in a statement. 

The ordinance also has the support of SEIU Local 87, a janitors' union, for the standards it applies to office buildings, according to Unite Here. 

Opponents like the Hotel Council of San Francisco and the California Hotel & Lodging Association claim the costs to abide by the new rules threaten the feasibility of a potential mid-August reopening date for hotels in the city. The Hotel Council of San Francisco said this month that the stipulations would cost an average-sized hotel of 250 rooms $220K annually, assuming an occupancy rate of 63% (which is CBRE's forecast for the sector in 2021).

Marc Intermaggio, executive vice president for San Francisco's Building Owners and Managers Association, and San Francisco Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Rodney Fong have also voiced opposition to the ordinance. 

"This is not the year and now is not the time for unneeded and redundant legislation that will keep our hotel community and tourism-based economy from recovering," Fong said of the legislation in a statement, before it was passed by the Board of Supervisors.

If signed by Breed, who has until July 17 to decide, the emergency ordinance would be in effect for 60 days. The mayor's office did not respond to a request for comment.