After going quiet for about a year, the issue of city regulations for AirBnB-style short-term property rentals will be back in the spotlight today when the City Council PLUM Committee considers the issue at its meeting this afternoon.
When last we left this discussion, back in June of last year, the City Planning Commission had given its stamp of approval to a new set of regulations that would require short-term rental hosts to register with the city (to provide a means for collecting a 14% Transient Occupancy Tax), and establish a system of fines for both hosts and rental platforms (such as AirBnB) that violate the established rules. The proposed rules would also require that the rented space be in the host’s primary residence (not in second homes, investment properties or vacation homes), prohibit short-term rental activity in rent-controlled units, and would require a landlord’s permission before a renter could host short-term rentals in his or her unit.
The most controversial issue in the CPC’s recommendations, however, was a provision that would increase the proposed cap on the number of days a property could be rented for short-term stays from 90 or 120 days (as recommended at different times by the City Planning Department) to a maximum of 180 days. This was done in response to complaints from rental hosts who testified that they depend on short-term rental income to afford their current homes, and might lose those homes without the higher cap. (Landlords can often make much more money through short-term rentals of full or partial units than they can from more traditional long-term rentals.)
Many neighbors in areas where short-term rentals have taken over a significant number of the local housing units, however (such as Venice, parts of Hollywood, and even parts of our Greater Wilshire area), say lower caps are necessary to prevent the destruction of stable residential neighborhoods – turning them into transient hotel zones – and the loss of increasingly scarce long-term rental units. This is likely to be one of the key aspects of today’s PLUM Committee discussions.
In a story yesterday about the proposed cap on short-term rental days, KPCC radio quoted City Council Member Mike Bonin, who represents Venice, which has been particularly hard hit by the conversion of traditional rental properties to short-term rentals. Bonin said he supports the lower caps on rental days. “You can’t come into L.A. and buy 12 different properties and use them as a scattered site hotel, which is what’s happening now,” he said.
In an editorial this morning, the Los Angeles Times agreed, citing data from AirBnB that indicates most short-term rental units are rented for only about 71 days per year. The Times, too, recommended returning to the lower 90-day cap on such activity. The Times also supports the prohibition of short-term rentals in rent-stabilized units…and in investment properties that are not the hosts’ primary residence:
“The proposed law would prohibit short-term rentals of second homes or investment properties, and would bar home sharing in rent-stabilized units, which make up about 85% of the rental housing stock. This would significantly reduce the number of legal short-term rentals in L.A., which is why rental websites and property owners are lobbying hard to block this provision. The council should not back down, however, because the strictures would help reduce the incentive for landlords to take long-term rental units off the market while also preserving the rent-controlled units that provide affordable housing in L.A.’s increasingly expensive rental market.”
The PLUM Committee meeting starts at 2:30 p.m. at City Hall; live video will be available at https://www.lacity.org/your-government/audiovideo/council-committee-meeting-audio).