City Council Approves Short-Term Rentals Ordinance…Delays Vote on Brookside R1 Zones

City Council PLUM Committee Chair Jose Huizar speaks about the new short-term rentals ordinance approved yesterday by the City Council.

Yesterday, the Los Angeles City Council was scheduled to consider two issues with significant impacts in our local area – a new ordinance governing short-term, AirBnB-style, rentals…and new R1 single family zone designations for the Brookside and Sycamore Square neighborhoods.

Brookside and Sycamore Square R1 Zones

As it turned out, however, ongoing disagreement among neighborhood residents over the Brookside proposal (which would divide the neighborhood between two different versions of R1 single family zones, one with stricter building massing requirements than the other) caused the vote on that item to be delayed until May 23.

Brookside neighbors have been debating the split zone proposal since it was put forth by the Planning Department in late January. But recent neighborhood discussions, including the one that dominated a meeting of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council’s Land Use Committee last week, have shown there are still deep divisions on the topic among neighbors, some of whom favor the split-zone proposal, based on the different styles of buildings in different parts of the neighborhood…and others who prefer for the area to be united under a single zone (which would include slightly more permissive building massing rules for all properties).

And City Council Member David Ryu has also apparently not yet decided which side to support.

At a City Council PLUM Committee hearing on the Brookside zoning plan in April, Ryu’s Senior Planning Deputy, Emma Howard, read a statement in support of the split-zone plan.  But after a number of neighbors objected, Ryu’s office backed off a bit…and Howard told the Buzz that Ryu and his staff are actually “agnostic” on the question, and will support whichever plan the majority of neighbors favor.

Brookside resident Jan Wieringa confirmed to the Buzz yesterday that the City Council vote has been postponed, and that Ryu’s office is working with neighbors on the issue.  “The Council office has asked residents on both sides of the zoning issue to get petitions signed,” Wieringa said.  “Ryu is going to go along with whichever side gets the most signatures.”

Short-Term Rentals

But while the Brookside vote was postponed, another big issue – short-term rentals – took a big step forward yesterday.

After more than two years of research, deliberations, hearings and discussions, the Council voted unanimously to approve basic provisions of a new ordance governing AirBnB-style rentals and home sharing.    The provisions include:

  • Registration for all short-term rental units
  • Rentals allowed only in a host’s primary residence
  • A cap on rentals of 120 days per year
  • A simple administrative process for compliant hosts to petition for permission to exceed the rental cap
  • A prohibition on rentals in rent stabilized units
  • And a prohibition on short-term rentals in rental units without the landlord’s permission.

While the vote to approve the basic ordinance was unanimous, however, several Council Members proposed a few “friendly” amendments, and asked for city agencies to report back with further research on some additional points. So the draft ordinance that will result from yesterday’s vote, including those amendments and the requested “report backs,” will be sent back to the City Planning Commission, City Council PLUM Committee and full Council for a final review before it is fully adopted.

The major points still being looked at include whether hosts must live in their units 12 months a year and be present for all rentals…or whether there could be a shorter residency requirement, such as 11 months (so hosts could take a one-month vacation and rent their home while they’re away) or as little as six months (which would allow people who work away from home – such as many people employed in the entertainment business – to rent their homes while they are away for work).

Further study of specific fee requirements (such as a possible reduction in fees for hosts who are on site during all rentals), and some other more technical provisions, were also requested by various Council Members.

In general however, the Council Members expressed satisfaction with the current proposal.  PLUM Committee Chair Jose Huizar said the city has been working hard to come up with an ordinance that would address three major issues:

  • How short-term rentals affect housing stock and Angelenos’ ability to actually live in the city
  • Identifying ways for hosts who don’t abuse the system to maintain short-term rental income, which helps many people to be able to afford their homes
  • And finding simple, administrative solutions that would allow responsible hosts to exceed proposed rental caps without losing whole housing units to short term rentals.

And most of the council members seemed to agree that the plan being moved forward does those things.  Mike Bonin said it maintans “a balance between good short-term rentals and bad short-term rentals.” And Council Member Paul Koretz said that while some parts of the ordinance still feel “not fully cooked,” the plan so far has been a “long time coming,” and he is comfortable moving forward as long as the points mentioned above will still be studied before the ordinance is finalized.

 

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About Elizabeth Fuller

Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - first in the Sycamore Square neighborhood, and since 2012 in West Adams Heights/Sugar Hill. She was long-time board member of the Sycamore Square Neighborhood Association, currently serves on the board of the West Adams Heights/Sugar Hill Neighborhood Association, spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and is the co-owner/publisher of the Buzz.

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