A Los Angeles City Council committee that has struggled for more than two years to draft an ordinance for Airbnb and other short-term rentals approved a set of potential regulations for the industry on Tuesday.
The panel had been trying since 2016 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 adversely affecting the quality of life in some neighborhoods.
The committee approved a proposed ordinance that would limit the number of rental days per host to 120 a year, but also create a discretionary process which would allow hosts to appeal for additional days that could allow them to rent for the entire year. Such exemptions could be granted if hosts meet certain criteria, including that the property has not been the subject of any recent nuisance violations.
Councilman Jose Huizar, who chairs the Planning and Land Use Management Committee, said he believed the regulations would help the city prevent problem "party houses" from continuing to operate.
"I think we've been able to provide a framework that will allow us to get the bad operators out," Huizar told City News Service. "I think we've come very close to allowing people who want to continue short-term rentals in that industry, opening up more housing for local residents and getting bad operators out that are disrupting their communities."
The ordinance also would create a way for a neighbor abutting the property to object to the 120-day cap being lifted. The objection would not necessarily prevent the owner from renting beyond the cap, but it would serve as a red flag for the city as it is reviewing the application, Huizar said.
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.
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Los Angeles projects it could collect about $30 million in taxes annually from Airbnb and other short-term renal companies, but the company has warned that capping rental days would significantly cut into that number.
The Department of City Planning said in a report that 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 committee is also considering a surcharge on all rentals to help pay for the administrative costs associated with regulating short-term rentals, and asked for city staff to provide a number of reports on that issue. The possible surcharge fee was kept in the committee, although the rest of the proposed ordinance was forwarded to the Housing Committee for consideration before being considered by the full City Council.