PLUM Committee Stalls on Home-Sharing Ordinance

Posted by Ben Nicolas on Wednesday, October 24th, 2018 at 7:32pm.

Los Angeles City Hall

This Tuesday, Oct 24th, 2018 a Special Meeting of the Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee of the Los Angeles City Council convened to hear public comments on the proposed Home-Sharing Ordinance and adjourned without conclusion, again. The meeting was attended by members of the UNITE HERE Local 11, the Los Angeles Vacation Home Rental Alliance, Los Angeles Tenants Union, as well as concerned area landlords and home-share advocates. In the 3 years since the ordinance was proposed, it remains under review.

On June 2, 2015, City Councilmembers Mike Bonin and Herb Wesson first introduced the motion to direct the Department of City Planning to prepare an ordinance governing the use of short-term rentals (a portion of a residential building that is designed or used for occupancy for fewer than 30 days a year). Councilmembers had noted the challenges for City neighborhoods, zoning regulations, and the rental market with the recent uptick in online-rental services in a top market such as Los Angeles.

For the past 3 years, the Department of City Planning, the City Planning Commission (CPC), Housing and PLUM Committees have volleyed drafts, approved amendments, received Community Impact Statements, and held public meetings. In May 2018, the City Council unanimously approved a draft ordinance to limit home-sharing in the city to 120 days a year with the caveat that it would create a process for hosts in good standing with the city to exceed that cap. Additionally, the ordinance would limit home-sharing to primary residences; this would prevent multifamily unit landlords from using their rental properties as de-facto hotels. Interesting to note is that the ordinance’s restrictions would actually legalize the practice in the city, which is currently prohibited but nearly impossible to regulate. The vote didn’t institute the ordinance outright; as a draft, it needs to be reviewed and finalized, which will then have to pass through 2 more committees before going before the full City Council for final approval.

The general comments during the recent October 23rd meeting echoed many of the points made previously in discussion of the controversial ordinance. One independent landlord stated that engaging in home-sharing and short-term rentals was the only way they could afford their mortgages; they also seek to distinguish themselves from large developers. On the other hand, critics of home-sharing and short-term rentals say that the increase in home-sharing units endangers affordable housing by driving up the rent and taking units off the rental market. One member of Local 11 requested that units subject to RSO be excluded from the ordinance, which is currently written into the ordinance. After comments were heard, the PLUM Committee adjourned the meeting. The next meeting date and time is TBD.

For the past 3 years, lawmakers have been struggling to strike a balance between ordinance critics and advocates. Though unrelated, it is likely aggravated by the upcoming vote on Proposition 10, or the Local Rent Control Initiative; many seem to conflate the issues as they relate to the housing market. According to TheRealDeal.com, the Home-Sharing Ordinance may pose a problem for platforms like Airbnb, which accounts for the vast majority of the home-share listings in the city. Around 39% of the roughly 18,300 unique listings on the site over the last year were booked for more than 120 days of the year, according to the Airbnb tracker AirDNA. For more background and a FAQ on the Home-Sharing Ordinance, visit the City website.

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