L.A. City Council Committee to Consider Regulations for Airbnb

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A Los Angeles City Council committee will continue efforts today to craft a policy for short-term rentals and consider the latest proposal to cap the renting of a primary residence at 120 days, but also allow up to 365 days if hosts petition for more time and meet certain criteria.

The City Council and its Planning Commission have been working for several years to come up with a set of regulations for the industry, as the city does not have an ordinance regulating Airbnb, which connects travelers with hosts looking to rent out their home or a bedroom in their home, but struck a deal with the company in 2016 for it to pay hotel taxes on behalf of its hosts under a three-year agreement.

The Planning Commission in September approved the latest set of guidelines, which would allow qualified hosts to rent year round, something industry advocates have been pleading for.

Under the proposed ordinance set to be examined by the Planning and Land Use Management Committee, hosts could petition for more than 120 days by meeting certain criteria, including that the property has not been the subject of any recent nuisance violations.

The unanimous vote by the commission differed from the recommendation of the Department of City Planning, which proposed a 240-day cap on hosts who petition for more time.

Under the proposed ordinance, the host can only rent their primary residence, which is defined as a home they live in for at least six months, and units that fall under the Rent Stabilization Ordinance would be limited to being rented for 120 days.

The commission's vote was another in a series of public meetings city leaders have held in an attempt to craft a policy that pleases both short-term rental hosts who say their livelihood depends on the practice and critics who say it is contributing to the city's housing shortage and affecting quality-of-life issues in some neighborhoods by allowing for rental “party houses” to overtake otherwise quiet neighborhoods.

The City Council in May approved a similar set of regulations for the short-term rental industry, but they also asked for more reports from staff and sent the regulations back to the Planing Commission.

The proposed ordinance must now again pass through various City Council committees before coming before a full vote by the City Council. The council had also approved a 120-day cap, with the ability to petition for more time, but called for a ban on Rent Stabilization Ordinance units being available for short-term rentals.

A Department of City Planning report says there were about 456,000 nights booked on Airbnb alone in 2016, and an estimated 550,000 nights booked by all home-sharing companies in 2017. The department also estimated that removing the cap for primary residences could result in the continued loss/conversion of about 1,500-2,500 units of housing per year to full time short-term rental activity.

The city's Office of Finance estimated in May that the city would collect $46 million in Transient Occupancy Taxes from Airbnb for the 17-18 fiscal year, although there have been no limits on rental days and a 120-day cap would likely reduce that number in future years.

Photo: Getty Images

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