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State Assembly Downtown Select Committee Convenes to Combat Challenges Facing Downtown’s Service Workers

Assemblymember Haney brings together labor representatives, small business and commercial property owners to address challenges to an equitable downtown revival.

For immediate release:
  • Nate Allbee
  • (415) 756-0561

SACRAMENTO, CA - The Chair of the Select Committee on Downtown Recovery, Matt Haney (D- San Francisco), hosted a committee hearing in downtown Los Angeles focused on the prevalence of vacant office buildings downtown and its impact on the essential workforce of downtowns. The hearing focused on the challenges posed to service workers in the janitorial, security, and foodservice industries, and featured workers who shared their personal experiences with street-level impacts of struggling downtowns. The Committee also heard from a labor leader from the SEIU and representatives from the business community who called for an equitable solution for a downtown revival. Chair Haney called for elected leaders at the state and local levels to put people first when making plans for revitalizing urban cores across California.

“When we talk about the state of downtowns and their recovery, these conversations tend to focus on how to bring office workers back downtown to boost foot traffic levels,” said Haney. “But there’s a glaringly obvious group of people missing from these conversations: workers who come downtown every day. The workers who have never had the option or ability to not to return to the office.”

The changes in work patterns has impacted downtown business corridors’ daytime foot traffic levels, highlighted by staggering office vacancy levels: in Downtown Los Angeles and San Francisco, office vacancy rates consistently hover near 30 percent. Workers who keep downtowns sanitized, safe, and fed are those who report to work in-person daily at the highest rates – nearly 80 percent – yet lack guarantees for job safety and security.

“We know that downtowns are struggling, and particularly commercial real estate has been slow to bounce back in this late pandemic era,” said David Huerta, President of the California SEIU State Council. “We are also concerned that our members who clean, disinfect, and guard downtown properties are the essential workers of this industry. We are equally vested in seeing the recovery of downtowns from the borderlands, to the Bay, to Sacramento.”

Bringing together representatives from labor and commercial real estate industries, the hearing included David Huerta, President of the California SEIU State Council; Nella McOsker, President and CEO of the Central City Association of Los Angeles; Brady Collins, Director of Research and Policy at the Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance; Chris Pearson, Senior Vice President at Hudson Pacific Properties; and Eddie Navarette, Executive Director at Independent Hospitality Coalition. Testimonies were also heard from Warren Reid, a security officer with Allied Universal, and Maria Estrada, a janitor with ABM.

Assemblymember Haney assembled the Select Committee on Downtown Recovery this year with the goal of finding legislative solutions to revitalize downtown communities across California. The Committee will continue to hold hearings throughout the state.