Transforming the Gateway to LA: The Economic Benefits of a Sustainable Tourism Model


In 2006, a coalition of community members, workers, and clergy leaders joined together as the Coalition for a New Century in an effort to transform thousands of low wage hotel jobs into family-sustaining jobs and to upgrade a lackluster L.A. tourism district that is often the first glimpse visitors have of the region. Due to their proximity to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), the dozen hotels that line L.A.’s Century Boulevard have high occupancy rates relative to other Los Angeles markets. Yet these hotels paid some of the region’s lowest wages, and the surrounding communities—where many tourism workers live—suffered from high rates of crime and poverty.

This report examines the impact of two major achievements related to that effort: (1) the living wage requirement adopted by L.A. City Council in the Airport Hospitality Enhancement Zone Ordinance (hereafter the Living Wage Ordinance), which went into effect in July 2008; and (2) the negotiation of collective bargaining agreements at four of the 12 Century Corridor hotels. This report estimates the benefit of the living wage policy and the union contracts for the 2,400 workers employed at the hotels over the first four years of their implementation—and the increased economic benefit to the community overall.