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L.A. City Council Continues Talk on How To Regulate Airbnbs

A Los Angles City Council Committee continued discussion today on proposed regulations for Airbnb and short-term housing rental companies but did not make any decisions while asking city staff for more information.

The committee previously met on the topic in June and is attempting to craft a policy that pleases both passionate advocates of the practice and those who say it is contributing to the city's housing shortage.

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 last year for it to pay hotel taxes on behalf of its hosts under a three-year agreement, even though short-term rentals are illegal in many residential neighborhoods.

Among the most controversial parts of the proposed ordinance is limiting the number of rental days per host to 180 days a year. Other cities have enacted short-term rental limitations, with Santa Monica limiting them to 60 days and San Francisco limiting them to 90 days.

The meeting also included a discussion of whether limits should be put only on full home rentals and not on people who share their home and are present when the renters are also there.

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Councilman Paul Koretz is not on the committee but spoke before it and advocated for a 90-day cap policy on rentals where it is not a primary residence of the renter, but said no cap would be necessary for a primary residence.

"If you are having commercial second homes, multiple homes, there are corporations buying up dozens of units and I think the place where it remains profitable for the mom and pops but not profitable for the giant corporations is around 90 days,'' Koretz said.

Los Angeles projects it could collect over $33 million in taxes from Airbnb for the upcoming fiscal year, but the company has warned that capping rental days would significantly cut into that number.

One of the reports that the committee asked for, which was initiated by Councilman Mitchell Englander, was the option of creating a surcharge fee of around $4 per rental per day to go into the Affordable Housing Trust Fund to aid the construction of affordable housing. Englander also asked for a report on the option of not having a cap on primary residences.

Many speakers told the committee that limiting the number of rental days could severely impact their finances or even their ability to keep paying their mortgage, while others spoke of nuisance properties where renters played loud music and wrecked havoc in the neighborhood.

SoCal Connected: Airbnbs Gone Wild

While Airbnb is fighting the 180-day ordinance, the city has been receiving pressure from other groups to pass a more stringent one. In March, a group that included representatives of the Venice Community Housing Corporation, the Coalition for Economic Survival and the California Hotel & Lodging Association called on the city to limit rentals to 60 days because it said Airbnb is helping create a housing shortage for L.A. residents.

The committee also discussed a recent report from the Department of City Planning to produce an analysis of the current state of short-term rentals in the city, best practices with other cities and provide answers to other related questions.

According to the department's report, there are approximately 23,000 unique short-term-rental listings within Los Angeles. Of these, approximately 15,900 are "entire home'' listings, of which 11,400 were renting for more than 90 days in the last year, with about 6,600 rented for more than 180 days.

This total represents ``a relatively small portion of the 1.45 million total housing units in the city,'' the report found, but added that the "fast growth of the practice and its concentration in certain neighborhoods threatens housing availability, affordability and residential stability of an increasing number of communities throughout Los Angeles.''

The highest concentration of listings appear to be in Venice, Hollywood, Mid-Wilshire, Echo Park, Downtown, East Hollywood, Beverly Grove, Los Feliz and Sherman Oaks, the report said.
 

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