KING CITY, Calif. - City Council members in King City are discussing a new proposed ordinance that would tax guests who stay more than 30 days at area hotels and motels. The ordinance is primarily directed at temporary farmers and the city says this is the first of many steps in finding workers a better place to live, but not everyone feels that way.
At the Motel 6 on Broadway Circle in King City, about half of the guests are H-2A farmworkers. Many of them stay a few months, work the season and head elsewhere.
"The buses drop them off. They pick them up. All they do is just go to work and come back. They are just as quiet as anything," said Bobby Patel with Motel 6.
Any guest who stays at a hotel pays a 10 percent transient occupancy tax, or TOT, upfront and after 30 days guests do not pay it, but the new ordinance being discussed at a King City Council meeting Tuesday night would change that. The first part would limit stays to 30 days, after which guests would need to check in again and pay the TOT. This is something Patel thinks will send long-term guests, such as farmworkers, elsewhere, losing valuable customers.
"500 to 600 people -- they are trying to drive them away," said Patel. "Once you start taking that TOT, that basically is going to drive them (farmers) to other cities where they don't have TOT issues."
"That's not why we are doing this," said King City Mayor Mike Lebarre. "This was genuine complaints from multiple parties."
Lebarre wouldn't go into detail about the complaints but said there is the second change, which is a bit more dense. Hotels wouldn't be able to have more than 75 percent of their rooms filled with temporary workers for most of the year.
"We want to make sure when they are here for long term, especially agriculture employees, that we have quality facilities. I mean, a hotel is not for living," said Lebarre.
Back at the Motel 6, Patel said he doesn't understand the logic behind the proposed ordinance.
"Because there is no other source of income here except the farmers. That's the main thing," he said.
The ordinance is being discussed at the City Council chambers, but an official decision won't be made for at least another six weeks.