Mello Act and Housing

The Department of City Planning report says that the Mello Act requires the City to do two things: Preserve and create affordable housing.

This is right, but incomplete. There's a very important third thing required under the Mello Act: that residential uses in the Coastal Zone cannot be changed unless very strict conditions are met.

According to the Interim Administrative Procedures, a residential use can only be converted to a non-residential use if 1) the City determines a residential use is no longer feasible on site OR 2) the proposed use is COASTAL DEPENDENT. This means that the use can only be done on the coast, such as a Marina or harbor. [If you can do it in Palm Springs, it's not Coastal dependent.]

Keep Neighborhoods First is very concerned with the widespread, un-permitted conversion of residential housing into AirBnB-type short-term rentals / hotels, and Venice is ground-zero. We've seen approximately 2,000 units converted without permits.

Within the Coastal Zone, the Mello Act would help us preserve our valuable residential housing stock at a whole range of affordability levels, and will help us reclaim our residential neighborhoods. Conversions to hotels or STR's cannot be permitted on residential sites according to the Mello Act.

As we do the important work of creating and preserving affordable housing, please do not lose sight of the Mello Act's prohibition on converting any residential uses to non-residential uses that are not Coastal Dependent, such as a hotel.

Enforceability still a concern

We are waiting with anticipation for the Planning Department report to come out.  But, we remain concerned about a key item—enforceability.

The short-term rentals that are proliferating all over Los Angeles are already illegal.  And KNF has been frustrated at the lack of enforcement from the City.  Staff seems to be pretending to enforce – the common excuse is that there is just not enough evidence—regardless of the fact that stakeholders have followed City instructions and rented units (in rent controlled residentially zoned apartment buildings) and provided pages and pages of proof, including the evidence of short-term rental contracts and receipts.

What about any new ordinance leads us to believe it will be enforced?  We are hopeful, of course. But a good way to help ensure enforceability would be for the new ordinance to require assistance from all of the various platforms.  Most importantly, any new ordinance would only allow primary homes (one per family unit/person) that have been registered with the City to be listed/advertised on any platform.  Without this cooperation from the platforms, any new ordinance will be more of the same.

We hope the city gets the right. For now, we continue to encourage all stakeholders to get involved and have your voice heard.  If you have short-term rentals in your neighborhood, you can report them to us here and let the city know by emailing Jeff Paxton

Making LA a leader, Learning from other cities' mistakes

We are looking forward to the release of the draft ordinance and report for the City of Los Angeles’ Planning Department. KNF has been fighting, mobilizing, and lobbying to ensure that Los Angles is a leader in the region, and passes the first comprehensive and enforceable short-term rental ordinance in California!  

We have learned so much from other cities that have gotten it wrong, like San Francisco.

We are working with housing advocates to ensure that affordable housing is protected with any new rules.  We will keep you updated as new updates arise, but we expect to need your help very soon.

Sharing this letter we received from a local housing advocate.

Coming up: California Senate Bill SB 593: Regulate Short Term Rentals Statewide

Click here to read the California Senate Bill 593 Update  

Senate Bill 593, introduced in the last California State Senate session, is again being considered. 

We applaud the leadership of California State Senator, Mike McGuire, a Democrat from the Sonoma County city of Healdsburg, in crafting legislation which allows municipalities to protect housing and neighborhood quality of life. 

SB 593 promises to give California’s cities and counties the uniform regulatory framework essential for holding hosting platforms, such as AirBnb, Flipkey, Vacation Rental by Owner (VRBP) accountable and would make it easier for cities to collect taxes and enforce regulations. 

Municipalities across the state are crafting policies which would allow them to regulate the short-term rental industry. These cities have been frustrated in their efforts to understand and regulate the short term rental industry because many of the largest companies in the industry have failed to disclose basic information about their operations. SB 593 provides for that disclosure, which is the same type of information required of any business, while preserving the right of municipalities to implement appropriate regulatory measures. 

Read: Keep Neigbhorhoods First letter supporting SB 593

If you have questions or want to influence the direction of the issue, the time is to act now!

Send your letters and questions to Christopher Nielsen, Senate Fellow for Senator Mike McGuire

New Short-Term Rental Ordinance

We believe 2016 will be the year that Los Angeles adopts new policies regulating short-term rentals, per the proposed Los Angeles City Council Motions: Short-Term Rentals/Preparation of Ordinance (Council File: 14-1635S2).

In 2015 we were successful in bringing people from all over Los Angeles concerned about the impact of short-term rentals together as one voice.  

We have shed light on the impact of short-term rentals and really become the voice of residents on this issue.

We are hopeful that the final regulations will include protections for our communities and preservation of long-term housing at all levels, including the most vulnerable rent stabilized and affordable housing. 

Virtually every other jurisdiction that has enacted STR regulations is finding them almost impossible to enforce. We are hopeful that Los Angeles will learn from these errors and omissions and adopt an enforceable ordinance that can be a model for other cities.

Coldwell Banker advertised 21-unit, residentially-zoned Venice apartment as an alluring short-term rental prospect

Coldwell Banker

Converting properties into short-term rentals has become so profitable that real estate brokers make note of it in their marketing packages. Read this pamphlet from Coldwell Banker Commercial to get an inside look into how commonplace conversions to short-term rentals have become. 

Read more

Open Letter to Rick Cole

To: Rick Cole, Los Angeles Deputy Mayor for Budget and Innovation

Dear Mr. Cole,

At a recent American Planning Association conference, you voiced your views on regulating the sharing economy in Los Angeles. We would appreciate clarification of your position on this important issue.

When asked how Los Angeles should regulate the sharing economy, you suggested that the City "experiment on some pieces of Los Angeles." You went on to explain that the city should "find the places for deregulation to take place, let it happen, and then when people call and complain just...let the phone ring."

To which "pieces of Los Angeles" do you refer? Does this philosophy represent your action plan vis a vis the proliferation of illegal and commercialized short-term rentals in Los Angeles?

For example, do you plan to let commercial users of online rental platforms operate multiple year-round short-term rentals and de facto hotels out of rent controlled residential dwellings, despite the subsequent loss of affordable housing? Is your goal to allow them to become so entrenched that regulation will become difficult, if not impossible?

Do you believe that the New York Attorney General is mistaken in pursuing litigation based on the findings of this recent report on Airbnb's impact on the affordable housing stock

Do you intend to foster such illegal and commercial short-term rental ventures in Los Angeles through benign neglect? If so, how do you plan to shape the dynamics of this tech economy phenomenon, given the blinding speed at which it develops?

We appreciate your time, and look forward to understanding your perspective on these issues.


The Keep Neighborhoods First Team