The L.A. City Council took a big step Wednesday towards regulating short-term rentals – that means Airbnb.
The council unanimously voted for rules that emphasize two things:
- A host must live on the property he/she is renting out.
- A host can rent out a room for a maximum of 120 days, unless that person gets an exemption by paying a $1,149 fee, they do not have any nuisance violations because of guests, and nearby neighbors agree to it.
It's a victory to those who believe short-term rentals are displacing families in L.A. trying to find affordable places to live.
"We do have a housing crisis," says Rick Coca, spokesperson for Councilman José Huizar. "[Airbnb property owners] are the people we want to rent out to long term renters."
But hosts themselves are exasperated by this law on the horizon.
"Some of the people I've talked to are fine with it, others find it excessive," says Robert St. Genis, executive director of the Short Term Rental Alliance of California, which represents hosts. "The whole idea of having your neighbors decide whether or not you're allowed to do something, it's just asking for problems."
Others balk at the idea of having to live on the same property, like host Margaret Priest who rents out a Mid-City home that isn't her primary residence.
"It may force a sale. I just don't know how we can maintain a house that we can only rent for 120 days a year," she says. "I thought there would be more discussions."
But officials argue that the process has been meticulous.
"It's taken us three years to get to this point," says Coca. "[Councilman Huizar] has heard it no fewer than four times with a lot of input from people from all perspectives."
Airbnb backers argue, however, that there are different kinds of hosts, and the law lumps in the "bad" with the "good."
"I personally have an issue with people who clear out entire apartment buildings and turn it into a hotel," says Priest. "My problem is the way they're addressing these issues is sort of punishing everybody."
The details of the law have yet to be ironed out by the city planning commission and attorney's office, and then it will head to a final vote before the council.