A Los Angeles City Council committee continued efforts Tuesday to craft a policy for short-term rentals and approved a proposal to cap the renting of a primary residence at 120 days but also allow up to 365 days if hosts certain criteria.
The Planning and Land Use Management Committee also reinstated to the proposed rules a ban on Rent Stabilization Ordinance units being available for short-term rentals while also asking city staff for a few reports on some outstanding issues.
Councilman Jose Huizar, who chairs the committee, said he believed the process was almost complete and expected a full ordinance to be approved by the City Council soon, after years of work.
“We certainly want to move forward. I think we’ve come to a place where we’ve tweaked it enough, and there’s some final changes that need to be made, but it’s time that we move forward,” Huizar said.
The City Council and its Planning Commission have been working for several years to come up with a set of regulations for the industry. 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 latest set of guidelines would allow qualified hosts to rent year-round, something industry advocates have been pleading for. Hosts could petition for more than 120 days by meeting certain criteria, including owning property that has not been the subject of any recent nuisance violations.
The committee’s proposal 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, hosts 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 not be available for short-term rental. The Planning Commission had recommended RSO units be included for rental, going against the desire of the City Council, but the committee reinstated the RSO ban.
“I think they are mistaken if they think it’s alright to open it up to rent stabilized units. I think we can’t ensure that the privilege won’t be abused and that we will lose even more RSO units to full-time home sharing,” said Councilman Paul Koretz, who is not on the committee but made an appearance to share his views.
The committee’s meeting 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 also asked for more reports from staff and sent the regulations back to the Planing Commission.
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 to 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 2017-18 fiscal year, although there have been no limits on rental days and a 120-day cap would likely reduce that number in future years.
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