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The West Hollywood City Council voted on April 17 to not allow guest houses to be eligible for the home sharing business license program, a practice best known through short-term rental companies like Airbnb. The council also voted to extend the “sunset date” for short term rentals rather than make such properties permanent. Additionally, the council also directed the city to focus on shutting down illegal short-term rentals.
“The item on short-term rentals was an important discussion because the council made it clear that short-term rentals are interfering with the supply of housing for residents,” Councilman John Heilman said. “We told staff that we shouldn’t be expanding the programs, we should be improving enforcement of our existing ordinances so that residents don’t have to deal with out-of-town short-term visitors suddenly appearing in their apartment buildings.”
“For me, it was an easy decision. Allowing guest houses to be used for short-term rentals would likely incentivize the building of new guest houses for that purpose, which, in turn, would negatively impact the building of additional dwelling units for permanent housing. The amount of money a property owner can make by renting out a quasi-hotel room would exceed the amount they would collect by renting a unit.”
Mayor Pro Tempore John Erickson pointed out that the city consists of 80% renters, and that measures must be taken to protect them.
“I think we should go even further by not only banning their use in the city but also legal action if they continue to abuse and harass renters with false advertising and misuse of our rental housing stock,” he said.
Councilwoman Laura Meister also pointed out during the meeting the negative effect that short-term rentals have on hotels in the city.
“The last thing we want to do is disincentivize building units for permanent housing and, on top of that, take away business from our hotels,” she said. “I would not be surprised if the existence of short-term rentals has largely contributed to our housing crisis. Short-term rentals take away residential units from our residential housing stock – for commercial purposes. The state should be studying this issue – not sweeping it under the rug and then placing ridiculous Regional Housing Needs Allocation demands on small, built-out cities like West Hollywood.”
Councilwoman Chelsea Byers also discussed the city’s housing crisis and how “every single unit of housing makes a tangible impact.”
“We cannot allow private companies to extract value from our limited supply while people are struggling to find an affordable home of their own,” Byers said. “The decision made clear that this council is interested in reining in the abuse of the short-term rental market, restoring quality of life to impacted tenants and ensuring long-term housing availability for our community.”
“The proliferation of short-term rentals in every city including ours has contributed to the housing crisis and lowers quality of life for residents,” Mayor Sepi Shyne said. “We have made enforcement of our short-term rental ordinance a priority and our vote against expanding guesthouses to our home sharing program will help to make sure our priority is met.”
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