Short Term Rental Cap Approved by City Council

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L.A. lawmakers made progress in curtailing short term rental activity Wednesday when they unanimously backed regulations. Photo by Thinkstock.

Los Angeles lawmakers back 120-night cap on short term rental activity. 

by Sam Catanzaro

Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved regulations Wednesday that would limit the number of nights hosts can rent out their home as a short term rental (STR) to 120 nights annually while providing a mechanism for hosts to operate beyond the cap.

“This is Goldilocks we’re looking for,” said Councilmember Mike Bonin during Wednesday’s hearing. “Some legislations have been too hard, some have been too soft, we’re hoping this one is just right.”

Bonin represents the 11th District which includes Venice. According to a recent report by the Department of City Planning, Venice has the highest concentration of STR listings in the City.

Despite passing with a 15-0 vote, the rules still must be approved by the Los Angeles Planning Commission, whose nine members are appointed by Mayor Eric Garcetti. If the Commission approves the rules, the City Attorney’s office will draft the final legislation that City Council will vote on to determine whether these regulations become law.

Under this proposal, STR activity would be allowed only in the primary residence of the host. This is an effort to curtail commercial operators who use STR units as illegal hotels. In addition, a 120-night annual cap would put on host renting out their primary residence. Hosts could, however, continue renting beyond the cap if they are not subject to multiple or outstanding citation violations from the City.

“I think that requiring that you have to live in your home is a good thing because that is what home sharing was supposed to be,” said Ed Colman, a Venice resident who rents out a room in his home through Airbnb. “I have got a guest room in my house. I have been renting it short term for four years. I’m retired and I was laid off by the post-production company I worked for so I really depend on that income.” 

The City Council vote on Wednesday marks a significant step in the City’s nearly three-year effort to regulate STR activity. As services like Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO have become increasingly popular, the City has simultaneously seen the number of affordable housing units decrease. The Department of City Planning anticipates the legislation lawmakers backed Wednesday will potentially create more affordable units.

“The City Planning Department anticipates this legislation to ensure as much of our City’s housing supply is available for long-term renters,” said Cheryl Getuiza, a Public Relations Officer for City Planning. “This is achieved mainly through the primary dwelling requirement.” 

The City Planning Commission must approve these regulations with a simple majority. Planning Commission meetings are open to the public, occurring every second and fourth Thursday of the month. Meetings are held at City Hall in Downtown Los Angeles on the second Thursday of each month at 8:30 a.m. and at City Hall in Van Nuys, on the fourth Thursday of each month at 8:30 a.m. Public comment is allowed at these meetings. More information about these meetings and how to file a public comment can be found by calling the Planning Commission office at (213) 978-1300.