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SoCal cities racing to regulate Airbnb as its popularity climbs




The Airbnb app is displayed on a smartphone on April 21, 2014 in San Anselmo, California.
The Airbnb app is displayed on a smartphone on April 21, 2014 in San Anselmo, California.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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Sites like Airbnb and VRBO have quickly rose in popularity in just a few years, but that's causing a headache for cities throughout Southern California trying to regulate them.

Known for short-term rentals, these sites allow homeowners and tenants to rent out their homes to visitors and tourists.

Many communities, however, never anticipated this kind of business to explode and are unsure of their legality: is it legal to operate your home like a hotel? Should a hotel tax be collected?

Santa Monica may vote through tough restrictions on Tuesday requiring that hosts stay in the unit for the guest's whole stay and collect a 14 percent hotel tax.

Los Angeles released its own report to investigate these rentals' impact on the local economy and housing market, but councilman Mike Bonin told KPCC any regulations the city may pass could take months.

Paavo Monkkonen, professor of urban planning at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, has studied the effect of Airbnb on neighborhoods and explains the rush by many communities to get new ordinances in place.