April 22, 2024 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

Local Leaders and Residents Rally LA County Supervisors to Approve Strict SRT Regulations

Board of Supervisors Advances Strict Measures to Curb Short-Term Rentals

Today, the County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors voted to advance the Short-Term Rentals Regulations Ordinance. The measure will preserve long-term housing for families and make neighborhoods more peaceful and safe. Before the vote, Gleam Davis, Councilmember, Santa Monica, Mary Stancavage, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, Nancy Hanna, Better Neighbors LA, Luz Loza, City Terrace Resident, and other tenants in the city who have been affected by short-term rentals held a press conference.

“When you regulate short-term rentals, you return affordable housing to the market, and you make a dent in our twinned housing and homelessness crises,” said Santa Monica City Councilmember Gleam Davis. “Santa Monica has dealt with short-term rentals with common-sense regulations for years, and having regulations in unincorporated LA County will strengthen us all.”

“Party houses leading to violence, corporate landlords buying up affordable housing, and tourists getting defrauded on vacation all happen when this one industry isn’t regulated, and the Board’s action today addresses each of those problems,” said Nancy Hanna, a partner at Hadsell Stormer Renick & Dai, LLP. “With limits on rental nights and registries for hosts, we can start to see affordable units return to the market and peace and quiet return to the neighborhoods that have borne the brunt of short-term rentals.”

 Specifically, the ordinance will:

  • Limit STRs to the Host’s primary residence
  • Limit STR stays to 30 calendar days or less and limit the number of days the STR can be rented “un-hosted.”
  • Prohibit the use of ADUs as STRs to preserve ADUs for long-term rentals
  • Prohibit rent-restricted housing for STR use
  • Prohibit commercial events and “party house” rentals
  • Restrict guest occupancy to 2 guests per bedroom with a maximum occupancy of 12 guests
  • Require hosts to register annually
  • Allow for penalties and fees if hosts and platforms are not in compliance with the ordinance  

STRs in East Los Angeles have driven up the cost of housing. A report authored by Professor David Wachsmuth of McGill University found that STRs just in the City of Los Angeles accounted for more than 5000 extra people experiencing homelessness each night, suggesting a need for enforcement and regulation of STRs. By prohibiting the use of accessory dwelling units (ADU) as STRs and making all STRs the host’s primary residence, this ordinance ensures the use of homes and ADUs for long-term rental use, preserving much-needed housing. 

The County’s regulation of STRs can slow or stop the rent increases that have already been seen due to unregulated STRs. Neighborhoods like Venice, with large amounts of STRs, have seen rent increases of up to 30%. Data shows that STRs have removed thousands of homes from the rental market and raised rents by $810 across the city of Los Angeles.

“I first started noticing issues with short-term rentals near my home about five years ago,” said City Terrace resident Luz Loza. “A host who lives miles away in the Palisades rents out four houses right next to my home. Weeks go by without trash being taken out; there are always issues with noise, and my nine-year-old grandson and I have had to see naked sunbathers use drugs on the host’s deck. Meanwhile, my neighbors who rent can no longer afford to buy homes and remain in the place they grew up. I’m grateful to see regulations that will start to change this industry.”

Unregulated STRs have led to “party houses,” which can create life-or-death public safety concerns, with a shooting as recently as yesterday morning, February 12, at a house that police say was rented for a party. Examples abound. On January 28, 2023, three people lost their lives, and four more were wounded outside of a STR “party house” in Benedict Canyon. The incident in Benedict Canyon is, unfortunately, not unique. In 2022, there was also a shooting outside a STR in Studio City after an “out-of-control party.” 

The ordinance also addresses the frequent complaint of “bait and switch” tactics. Hosts will claim that their listed properties are in desirable but regulated neighborhoods (such as Venice or Santa Monica), only for tourists to show up and find themselves many miles away (in Marina del Rey, for example). This unchecked fraud creates safety concerns for residents and frustration for short-term rental customers. The requirement that hosts register annually will address this, as will penalties for listing a property in a false location. 

“Our homes are sanctuaries for ourselves and our families and a connection to our neighbors,”  said Mary Stancavage, a board member of Clergy & Laity United for Economic Justice. “Right now, an out-of-control ‘wild west’ industry is providing neither sanctuary nor community, and it makes our homelessness crisis worse. I’m proud of the Supervisors for acting to change that.”

The vote today moved the ordinance forward. A first reading is scheduled for March 19.

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