Local hotels and arts groups ask city to consider increase to hotel occupancy tax on March ballot

Local hotels and arts organizations are asking the city to consider placing a proposed Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) increase on the March ballot to fund arts education and renovations for the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center.

In an Oct. 21 letter to the city, representatives of arts groups including International City Theater, Long Beach Museum of Art and Long Beach Opera, and local hotels including Long Beach Marriott, the Westin and Hyatt Regency, said the city needs additional funding for arts access and improvements for the Convention Center.

The group is urging the City Council to place a proposed 1% TOT increase for voters to consider on the March ballot. TOT is a charge to travelers when they rent a hotel room or other short-term lodging.

The increase would amount to $1.80 to $2 per hotel room, per night, and is “not a tax on Long Beach residents or our hotels, but a small revenue increase that would be paid for by visitors, convention attendees and those booking hotel rooms in Long Beach,” the group said in a letter.

The funds would be spit 50-50 with half invested in modernizing the Convention Center and half invested into the city’s major arts and culture organizations.

Griselda Suarez, executive director of the Arts Council for Long Beach, said more support for the arts and an updated convention center will benefit the community and local hotels in the long run.

“We want to foster creativity and culture, so by proving arts education to our residents and the students in the Long Beach Unified School District, we are really helping create the art supporters for our next generation,” she said.

Griselda said the City Council is expected to consider the matter in its regular meeting next month.

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Kelly Puente is a general assignment and special projects reporter at the Long Beach Post. Her prolific reporting has taken her all over Southern California—even to the small Catalina Island town of Two Harbors. She is a Tiki mug collector and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public policy and administration at Cal State Long Beach. Reach her at [email protected].