Santa Monica accelerates passage of higher minimum wage

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Stirred by the Los Angeles City Council's decision to raise the city's minimum wage, the Santa Monica city council decided Tuesday night to start drafting a higher minimum wage ordinance for their city.

“Frankly, I think Los Angeles moved a bit faster than we thought, and while they didn’t flesh out their ordinance entirely they certainly spurred us to move more quickly,” said Mayor Kevin McKeown.

Los Angeles and Santa Monica both embarked on a minimum wage hike in September of 2014. Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti proposed a $13.25 minimum wage on Labor Day, and Santa Monica’s city council voted in September to study what effect a higher wage would have on their town. That report was due back at the end of this year, which Mayor McKeown says is too far down the road.

"We've now accelerated the process," said McKeown.

McKeown says the council plans to decide on a minimum wage hike in September - if passed, it would be adopted on a similar timeline to Los Angeles, and he says it could be a higher than $15 an hour considering that Santa Monica already has a “living wage” of $15.37 an hour that applies to hotel workers, city employees and workers of contractors doing business with the city.

“We would like to be a leader on minimum wage issues, but we’d also like to achieve regional balance and not create undue tension with the business community,” said McKeown.

McKeown wants to solicit input from businesses over the summer, but he expects little resistance on the council to a higher wage.

"I’d say the history of actions by this council would show it is a progressive council, and it will almost certainly move in the direction of a substantial minimum wage,” said McKeown.

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