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LA tentatively approves new Airbnb regulations




Hospitality workers with Unite Here Local 11 stand up as members call for tighter regulations on Airbnb and other short-term rental companies at a Los Angeles City Council planning committee meeting on June 13, 2017.
Hospitality workers with Unite Here Local 11 stand up as members call for tighter regulations on Airbnb and other short-term rental companies at a Los Angeles City Council planning committee meeting on June 13, 2017.
Josie Huang/KPCC

On Tuesday, L.A. lawmakers tentatively approved new rules for short-term rentals offered through services like Airbnb. The proposed regulations would prevent Angelenos from renting their homes or apartments on a nightly basis if they are not the owner, and also reduce the number of nights hosts can rent out space to 120 times per year. Hosts who'd like to exceed that limit would need to go through a city approval process that includes neighbor input.

Arthi Varma is Principal Planner with LA's City Planning Department. She explained the latest proposed regulations.

Why regulations are needed for short-term rentals

The City Council was exploring ways to balance the need to preserve our city's housing supply for long-term renters in the face of the housing crisis with preserving residential neighborhood character. At the same time, many short-term rental operators are good operators and not creating negative impacts and using short-term rentals to stay in their homes in the face of this affordable housing crisis.

What the new regulations propose

The issue at hand yesterday was the proposed cap on the number of short-term rentals that a host can engage in. So the cap is 120 days -- anybody who wants to engage in short-term rentals as long as it's a primary home, not rent stabilized, have their landlord's permission and don't do it for 120 days. The Planning and Land Use Management committee directed the Planning Department to create a two-tiered system to go above that cap.

How the two-tier system works

The first tier is a simple administrative sign off that would be approved if the host didn't have any nuisance violations. So no tickets or fines from various departments in the city. The action they took, it couldn't be a neighbor complaint; it had to be an enforcement action. If hosts could do that, they could get administrative sign off.

The second tier is discretionary, where if there was a nuisance violation, hosts could still apply to go above that cap. If it's a one-time issue, they could show that they are still good operators. They're continuing to find guests who are compatible with the neighborhood.

The process for going above 120 rental days

It includes an application with the Planning Department and a discretionary review. There would be findings that the host is not taking a viable unit off of the long-term housing market to allow short-term rentals in the neighborhood.

Next steps for short-term rental regulations

The next steps are going to the Housing Committee, then another subcommittee of City Council to provide us further direction and then go to full City Council for direction. Because this is a whole new system, we would have to go back to the City Planning Commission for their input.

Why L.A. taking so long to figure this out

L.A. has a much larger supply of these short-term rentals happening. Depending on the day, anywhere between 22,000 and 24,000 short-term rentals happening in L.A. A lot of other cities who have regulations such as San Francisco and New York have a much smaller pool. The other issue is we have a unique housing crisis in the city of L.A. where the rent burden that Angelenos bear is much higher than cities like San Francisco. We're really looking at a balance. The folks who support short-term rentals are homeowners or renters that are looking to supplement their income to pay the rent and mortgage. The council was looking at a way to balance the multiple sides of this.



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