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Councilmember Negrete Target of First Election Hit Piece

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By Jorge Casuso

September 23, 2022 -- The local hotel workers union fired the first attack of the 2022 Election season with a mailer targeting Councilmember Lana Negrete.

The piece, which landed in mail boxes late this week, criticized the Council's newest member for voting to approve new uses at the Shore Hotel, which has been embroiled for years in a bitter unionizing battle ("Council Breaks With Union, Backs Hotel's Proposal," December 9, 2021).

In 2019, the local family owned hotel was hit with a record $15.5 million fine by the Coastal Commission for building a high-priced hotel with a permit to build moderate priced lodgings ("Santa Monica Hotel Hit with Biggest Fine in Coastal Commission History," May 8, 2019).

"Lana Negrete Voted for a law-breaking hotel developer and against environmentalists," the front of the predominantly red and black flier reads.

"In a scheme that a judge called 'a bait and switch,' a hotel developer illegally demolished two motels with dozens of low-cost guestrooms and replaced them with the high-end Shore Hotel without a proper permet," reads the back of the flier.

"Yet Councilmember Lana Negrete was the deciding vote to give MORE development permits to Shore Hotel and ignored Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights (SMRR)" and three environmental group "that opposed the expansion."

In voting for the new uses at the Shore Hotel last December, Negrete joined a non-SMRR majority on the Council that dealt a blow to Unite HERE Local 11, which had mounted a strong lobbying effort with other community groups against the hotel.

"It would be easy to make friends, so to speak, and just fall in line with how the community at large, seemingly, or special interests feel about this issue," Negrete said before casting her vote.

"I'm not speaking or doing anything that's appeasing the large groups that call in, and I know that's not the popular thing," Negrete said.

Negrete's December 7 vote signaled a strong shift for a Council whose SMRR majority had sided with the union for the past two decades, attending its rallies and casting votes on policies it pushed.

Negrete said she voted to allow Shore Hotel to open a cafe space and an 80-seat restaurant with a bar and to create a 14-room "micro hotel" because it was important to help a local Santa Monica business trying to recover from the coronavirus shutdown.

She voted, she said, "for the good of the community and economic recovery and giving peoople their jobs.

"They were asking to expand to keep their jobs and maintain service," Negrete said. "It keeps their line cook and bus boy and waiter (employed). It had nothing to do with labor issues."

Negrete noted that her campaign has received major labor endorsements, including that of the powerful Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council, and the Santa Monica police and fire unions.

But the clash withUnite HERE Local 11 is already placing roadblocks for Negrete's first election campaign since being appointed to the Council in June 2021.

Earlier this month, the union played a role in denying Negete the SMRR endorsement ("Hotel Union Flexes Muscle at SMRR Convention," September 12, 2022).

And it has vowed to mobilize "everyone, everywhere" as part of a canvassing effort that has helped boost the prospects of local candidates for more than two decades.

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