The head of the American Hotel & Lodging Association said today that plans by Riverside County officials to restrict to whom and when area hotels and motels can rent rooms could lead to problems.
"I don't think they should be involved in regulating this," AHLA President Joe McInerney told City News Service. "I understand what they're trying to do. But the question is how to get it accomplished and be fair."
McInerney was responding to a proposal by Supervisor Jeff Stone to crack down on establishments in unincorporated communities that may rent rooms to prostitutes and their clients.
"Prostitution, combined with drug abuse, is a prevalent problem," Stone said during Tuesday's Board of Supervisors' meeting. "We need a multi-pronged approach to regulate the hotel-motel industry. There need to be disincentives to providing a place for this type of activity."
The board voted 4-0 to direct the Office of County Counsel to study the feasibility of an ordinance and report back with tentative provisions in 60 days.
Stone, who represents Temecula, Murrieta and surrounding jurisdictions, said the county's ordinance might replicate those regulating overnight hotel and motel stays in the cities of Los Angeles and Riverside.
The supervisor said escalating levels of "human trafficking and prostitution in unincorporated areas of Riverside County" required a strong response by local authorities. He pointed specifically to the Hemet Valley.
According to the supervisor, a new ordinance might include a prohibition against renting rooms by the hour and penalizing establishments that knowingly rent to prostitutes or their clients.
"You get into regulating hourly rates, and that can be a bit of a problem," McInerney, whose association is based in Washington, D.C., told CNS. "When I've gone through Los Angeles to catch international flights, there have been a few occasions when flights have been canceled or something else, and I needed a motel room for a few hours. It happens."
He said AHLA would not directly challenge any effort by the county to impose regulations, leaving that up instead to the California Hotel & Lodging Association.