February 25, 2021 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Vacationers Sent Packing As City Bans Short-Term Rental Listings:

Santa Monica has taken a monumental step towards protecting housing stock in the city, banning short-term vacation home rentals across the board and taxing home-sharers.

The move has been welcomed by some community groups but has raised the question of privacy for industry organizations and home-sharers alike.

Riding on the platform that housing units should be made available for residents, not tourists, Santa Monica City Council passed Tuesday night the first reading of an ordinance that will ban short-term vacation rentals, with home-sharers required to register as a business and pay taxes as such.

The ordinance will see all short-term rental units come off the holiday market, with the City hoping to force online platforms such as Airbnb and VRBO to report violators who try to list their properties for short-term lease and to provide lists of home-sharers to City staff.

Industry groups said they are glad that the City is considering changes to enable hosts to share their homes and earn extra money, but they have concerns about specific aspects of the ordinance.

“The proposed law significantly impacts the expectation of privacy most Santa Monica residents have when they use online platforms like Airbnb,” an Airbnb spokesperson explained. “The law would require platforms to hand over large swaths of confidential, personal information to City regulators who will sift through this data in search of potential zoning code violations.”

Hearing from more than 60 concerned residents on the issue at City Hall Tuesday, April 28, during a scheduled City Council meeting, council members unanimously passed the ordinance that includes the enforcement of civil penalties on anyone who tries to list a vacation property for less than 31 days or who is home-sharing without being registered as an official business.

The ban is inline with current City legislation that prohibits the leasing of property for less than 31 days, according to the City.

The new ordinance ban applies to a “complete” housing unit with its own title where the host is off-site.

“People can’t engage in a business model where they purchase condominiums or rental units and then literally abandon them as residences and turn them into a defacto hotel in a residential neighborhood,” explained Councilwoman Gleam Davis.

“Home-sharing” refers to an on-site host residing on a single-title property with a room or guest cottage for lease. The ordinance makes room for house-swaps or “hosted” home-stay rentals where, “at least one of the primary residents lives on-site throughout the visitors’ stay,” according to the City.

In this case, the home-sharing host would have to procure a Santa Monica Business License and pay Business and Transit Occupancy Tax (TOT).

The collection of TOT will be enforced via agencies and hosting platforms such as Airbnb and VRBO, council members agreed.

The enforcement of the new ordinance will require the addition of three full-time permanent positions and supplies and expenses to the City at a total of $410,029 in financial year 2015-16 and a cost of $266,898 annually, according to the City.

“With 100 percent compliance, the program will generate estimated annual revenues of approximately $138,500 in Transient Occupancy Tax,” the City stated.

Due to the ramp up time to achieve compliance, City staff estimates total revenue of approximately $69,000 (50 percent compliance) for financial year 2015-16 and $110,800 (80 percent compliance) for financial year 2016-17.

“Higher amounts would be realized sooner if hosting platforms begin collecting TOT on behalf of the City,” staff added.

The City also estimated that in the first year of enforcement, fines totaling approximately $85,000 could be collected.

Despite the initial costs involved, council members were unanimous in their sentiment of not having Santa Monica neighborhoods transform into tourist lodgings.

“What we’re doing tonight effectively is legalizing some of the platforms, like Airbnb,” explained Councilwoman Pam O’Connor.

“We want to make sure that someone who remains in their home and wants to rent out a room can, but we don’t want to become Balboa Island,” said Davis, explaining that for many people, the extra money makes a significant difference to augmenting their income.

Several council members acknowledged that there may currently be reservations in place for short-term rentals in Santa Monica later this year, and that the enforcement of any new legislation should take into consideration people who booked, planned and paid for short-term lodgings before such legislation comes into play.

At the conclusion of the almost three-hour discussion, Mayor Kevin McKeown added a direction to City staff to include the creation of an education campaign for residents that highlights the issue that individual leases trump City legislation, and that if “no subletting” is clearly stated in a lease, then this stands.

in News
Related Posts

Video: Free LA Metro Rides Could Begin Soon

February 24, 2021

February 24, 2021

LA Metro could begin offering fare-less rides as early as next year as part of a $300+ million program. Learn...

Danny Trejo’s Tacos Coming to Santa Monica

February 24, 2021

February 24, 2021

Popular restaurant owned by legendary actor coming near Promenade By Kerry Slater Legendary actor Danny Trejo is bringing his popular...

Violent Crime Declining in Santa Monica: Santa Monica Beat – February, 22, 2021

February 22, 2021

February 22, 2021

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * Violent Crime Declining in Santa Monica * Santa Monica Animal Shelter...

Santa Monica Convicted Felon Indicted for Multiple Firearms Charges After Shooting into Neighbor’s Yard

February 22, 2021

February 22, 2021

Jason Walsh faces federal prison time for January 9 incident By Sam Catanzaro A Santa Monica man previously convicted for...

Westside Hotel to Homeless Shelter Sparks Debate

February 21, 2021

February 21, 2021

A proposal to convert a Westside hotel into a homeless shelter has sparked a debate. Learn more in this video...

Housing Backers Start Facing Post-Pandemic Reality

February 21, 2021

February 21, 2021

By Tom Elias, Columnist The mysterious blindness that apparently affected California’s top legislative housing advocates all through 2020 seems to...

Santa Monica Awarded Over $5 Million for Affordable Housing Production

February 21, 2021

February 21, 2021

The California Department of Housing and Community Development has announced two awards to the City of Santa Monica for future...

Asian Woman in Brentwood Verbally Assaulted in Racially Motivated Attack

February 18, 2021

February 18, 2021

While walking near the intersection of Bundy and Montana an Asian woman was verbally assaulted by a man walking his...

Video: Catalytic Converter Theft Spikes In Westside Neighborhoods

February 18, 2021

February 18, 2021

Catalytic converter theft is on the rise, what vehicles are most at risk and prevention techniques in this video brought...

Poll Reports Santa Monicans Think City is on Wrong Track

February 18, 2021

February 18, 2021

Local anti-union watchdog group Eyes on 11 releases survey results By Sam Catanzaro “The decay we feel in Santa Monica...

From Donuts to Bone Broth in Santa Monica

February 18, 2021

February 18, 2021

Alfalfa opens on Main Street in Santa Monica By Toi Creel A new restaurant has opened in Santa Monica, bringing...

Food Review: Highway Robbery on PCH

February 18, 2021

February 18, 2021

An unmemorable breakfast burrito at Rockwell Kitchen By Kerry Slater A gourmet food truck on Pacific Coast Highway near the...

Edify TV: Westside Schools to Reopen?

February 16, 2021

February 16, 2021

Health officials have given the green light for certain Los Angeles schools to begin in-person instruction but Westside parents may...

Looking for Book Recommendations to Add to Your 2021 List?

February 16, 2021

February 16, 2021

Reading proven positive mental health benefits including stress relief, broadening empathy, fighting off dementia, and even helping those with depression,...