While Anaheim is tightening its leash on short-term rentals, the city of Santa Ana seems to be welcoming them.
After listening to residents for about two hours, the Anaheim City Council unanimously voted Tuesday to extend a moratorium to May on new rentals, like those found on AirBnB, Homeaway, and VRBO.
“It changes the nature of a neighborhood,” said Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait.
But Santa Ana city council members Tuesday eagerly tossed out that city’s emergency moratorium put in place last month.
“I’m a huge supporter of the shared economy,” said Council Member Michele Martinez. “Certainly, my goal is not to be restrictive, prohibitive and overreaching.”
Martinez said the short-term rental problem didn’t seem as big in Santa Ana and city officials seemed to agree.
Santa Ana's municipal code doesn't clearly define or identify short-term rentals in a residential area, according to a city staff report. Officials decided to ask a transportation council committee to discuss how changing the city’s zoning code could regulate short-term rentals.
Across the country, and particularly in Southern California, cities such as Santa Monica, Manhattan Beach, and West Hollywood have introduced regulations to control the growth of short-term rentals.
In Anaheim, the growth has been rapid. The number of short terms rentals has doubled over the last year to about 400, with another 176 awaiting permits.
“The city is currently receiving between five to ten [short-term rental] applications per week with no slowing in sight,” according to September staff report, written at the time Anaheim issued its initial 45-day moratorium.
The boom is causing neighbors to complain about loud guests, traffic, and parking woes.
Gabriel Trufus, 40, told KPCC his Anaheim home is flanked by two houses that have been converted to short-term rentals. He said a football team once stayed in the house behind his and the guests were asking his children for oranges in their backyard.
“My kids cannot go and play because people are reaching over the fence talking to them,” Trufus said.
Community activists complain operators buy houses to convert into vacation rentals thus removing desirable housing stock from the residential market.
“There’s a lot of incentive now for landlords to evict long-term tenants and then replace them with short-term rentals because you can make a lot more money doing it,” said Clara Turner, policy analyst for Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development.
But vacation rental owners say their rentals are key to the local economy. And argue they're being unfairly grouped with a few bad-apple operators.
Valerie Van de Zilver runs about 30 short-term rentals in Anaheim.
“Some of us have security companies that if we get a complaint, we’re out there,” she said. “I’ve evicted guests.”
Van de Zilver said operators want to comply with city rules and keep neighbors happy--but they also have to acknowledge the booming tourism industry in Anaheim. In the current climate, hotels are popping up around town and Disneyland is raising ticket prices to keep crowds down.
It'll fall to Anaheim city officials to balance regulation and industry. Hotel taxes feed the city’s general fund. Short-term rental owners pay a 15-percent transient occupancy tax and a $250 registration fee each year.
Most current rentals are in South Anaheim, surrounding the Resort Area, which is near Disneyland, the Convention Center, and Angel Stadium.
Map courtesy of the city of Anaheim
The moratorium keeps new short-term rentals from entering the Anaheim market unless owners submitted a permit application prior to the September 15 moratorium. Additional bedroom conversions that need approval would have to wait till after May 2016.
In a report for the council, city staff said they would consider the following measures:
- Establishing minimum separation distances between short-term rental properties to make sure they don't cluster and overwhelm a neighborhood;
- Requiring neighborhood notification of pending short-term rental applications in order to solicit community feedback;
- Establishing a tiered permitting system that encourages home-sharing (i.e. where homeowners stay on-site);
- Requiring the preparation of a “nuisance response plan;"
- Requiring short-term rental operators to post a surety bond that could be used to cover civil fines.
Updated regulations will be presented to the Anaheim City Council around January or February with public hearings on a new ordinance in March or April.
This story has been updated.