City Planning Commission Moves Short-Term Rentals Ordinance Forward

Back in May, the Los Angeles City Council gave preliminary approval to a new set of rules to regulate short-term rentals (a.k.a. “home sharing”) in the city, and sent the recommendations back to the City Planning Commission for a final review. Last week, on Thursday, September 13, the CPC unanimously voted to approve the Council’s recommendations, with a few amendments.

Originally, the draft ordinance forwarded by the City Council last spring contained the following major provisions:

  • 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.

The Planning Commissioners generally approved the Council’s plan, but made a few amendments.  Their version specifies:

  • A rental cap of 120 days…with an extension to 365 days per year with a special permit for proven good operators
  • The new rules would roll out on July 1, 2019 (the beginning of the next fiscal year)
  • No blanket prohibition of short-term rentals in rent-stabilized rental units, as long as the space is the host’s primary residence, and as long as the unit’s landlord formally agrees to the rental activity
  • Short-term rentals would be allowed in Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) that were built and properly permitted before new ADU rules went into effect in January, 2017.

Finally, the Commission also requested that a study be done to determine whether proposed application fees, which would pay for administrative and enforcement costs of the program, would indeed be enough to cover those costs, while not becoming an excessive burden to rental hosts.

In fact, it was just that kind of balancing game – weighing the needs and considerations of the city, neighborhoods, those who rent out their homes, the competing hotel industry, and those who use short-term rentals – that was the major focus of the discussions before the Commission’s vote.

During that discussion, several of the commissioners – after listening to 90 minutes of public testimony from stakeholders on all sides of the many issues involved – spoke of the need for compromise among the often competing needs of different stakeholder groups.  In the end, though, all seemed to agree with Commissioner Dana Perlman, who lauded Planning Department staff efforts in creating the current plan, finding compromises that will allow the plan to move forward, and honoring the many viewpoints involved as well as possible.  “The staff has threaded that needle well,” he said.

The CPC-approved plan will now return to the City Council for further consideration and a final vote.

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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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