Important Updates on Home-Sharing in Los Angeles

What is happening in Los Angeles?

A few weeks ago, the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee finally heard the draft short-term rental ordinance. There was a big turnout from both our supporters and the opposition. Our supporters had great counter statements to the stories presented by hosts that were coached by Airbnb.

The Committee heard testimony from hundreds of attendees and had a relatively short discussion about the proposed ordinance. The following issues concern us:

  • Questioned the need for any cap - based on real data (see below), we prefer a 60 day cap on total amount of days a host is permitted to rent short-term as that incentivizes permanent housing

  • Reintroduced allowing short-term rentals in rent-controlled units - this is a real threat to affordable housing

  • Considering vacation rentals, which are currently prohibited in the ordinance - as we have experienced repeatedly, these rentals will seriously disrupt neighborhoods while removing much needed housing stock

These proposed changes would weaken the current ordinance significantly and threaten the peaceful enjoyment of our neighborhoods and availability of affordable housing.

The Planning Committee continued the short-term rental item without action. It should be heard again in early August. Please stand by for additional “calls to action” as we get closer to another hearing.

By the Numbers

  • 83 - average number of nights that an affordable Los Angeles apartment becomes more profitable as a short-term rental than permanent housing; Unnecessarily increasing the cap beyond this number will economically motivate landlords to turn more affordable apartments into short-term rentals.

  • 60 - average number of nights a year that Airbnb’s own study entitled “The Impact of Home Sharing in Los Angeles,” found that hosts share their home. A 60-90-day cap will easily accommodate those that engage in true home sharing and push commercial operators out of the market

  • 31,253 - Airbnb listings in Los Angeles as of July 6, 2017 - 57.6% are entire homes, 37.2% are private rooms and 5.2% are shared rooms

KNF continues to work for an ordinance with a reasonable cap, a prohibition on rent-controlled units and a primary residence requirement.

Last week, KNF, along with our Affordable Housing Advocate Coalition partners, testified at the City Council's Housing Committee meeting - to make sure the decision-makers in City Hall, beyond just the Planning Committee, are hearing about the harmful impacts of illegal short-term rentals.

The Housing Committee also heard from tenants who live in residentially zoned, rent-stabilized apartment buildings that are in the process of being converted to de facto hotels, including "The Ellison," a 57-unit RSO building in Venice. They expressed concerns and frustrations about unwarranted evictions, landlord harassment, neglect of health and safety problems,  and about the City's lack of enforcement - as they watch neighbors being displaced and their communities  replaced with a revolving door of strangers.

Venice Takes a Step in the Wrong Direction

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As the City Council continues to grapple with regulatory policy and LA City Attorney Mike Feuer is suing property owners accused of illegally converting long-term rent stabilized housing into transient use, short-term rentals, however, continue to be attractive to landlords looking for a way around rent stabilization. Throughout Los Angeles we continue to see affordable units being take off the market at lightening speed.

In Venice, we have seen property owners attempt to turn entire long-term buildings with rent-stabilized units into de facto hotels.  Just as Carl Lambert, owner of Venice Suites, a 32-unit rent stabilized apartment building, is facing an upcoming Civil Court trial for this, the Venice Neighborhood Council, many of whom Lambert supported in their bids for office, unfortunately voted, on June 29, 2017, to reward Lambert for his unlawful activity by supporting his request to “officially” continue operating as a de facto hotel.  

Fortunately, the VNC is advisory only and this request still has many hurdles as it passes through scrutiny by the City Planning Department and Coastal Commission. While the law is on the side of protecting housing, we were glad to have 400-plus stakeholders from all over Los Angeles who formally expressed their opposition and will be watching closely to make sure justice prevails.

Learning from Other Cities

We have always encouraged the City of LA to look to other cities for advice on how to best regulate short-term rentals. Many other municipalities have been adopting and then later tweaking their ordinances to be effective, preserve affordable housing and protect neighborhoods.  

This week, the Los Angeles Daily News posted an opinion piece written by Dale Carlson, co-founder of Share Better San Francisco, a Keep Neighborhoods First ally. The article gives warning and lessons from San Francisco's home sharing ordinance.

Stay tuned as we continue our fight to protect housing and neighborhoods in Los Angeles!

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