November 24, 2020 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Cracking Down on Home Sharing ‘Hostels’

City Council to explore limiting numbers of guests in vacation rentals 

By Keldine Hul

In 2015, the City of Santa Monica adopted a home-sharing ordinance that aimed to clarify and impose regulations on home-sharing and prevent permanent housing from being used as a vacation rental. According to the ordinance, while at least one resident lives on-site during their guests’ stay, residents can host visitors in their home for up to 30 consecutive days. While residents applying for home-sharing are required to provide a list of each room and maximum number of overnight guests allowed, the ordinance did not set a limit on the number of guests permitted to stay at once. 

An Airbnb listing for a five-bedroom, three-bathroom landmarked property in Santa Monica that can potentially house up to 36 guests at once has members of the community frustrated. According to neighbors, the house is being used as a hostel, with people coming and going at all hours and disturbing residents in the area. Designed by Robert Stacy-Judd, the 1920’s Pueblo and Mayan Revival home known as the “Zuni House,” located at 710 Adelaide Place, was designated a landmark in 2003. According to the Los Angeles Conservancy, it was originally constructed as a duplex and covered into a single-family house sometime between 1940 and 1950. 

According to the Airbnb listing, “Expect the bathrooms and the common areas get a bit busy especially on weekends and also DO NOT EXPECT you will share this house with a small number of people when you book.” The listing continued, “In the past, some guests canceled their reservations because they expected they would share this house with fewer people. This is not fun for both of us so please understand this sharing situation. For socializing events, I may invite my friends and guests from another shared house of mine.” 

According to news outlets, the listing also previously mentioned that a maximum of 36 people in total can stay at the same time but has since been edited. 

During an August 27 Santa Monica City Council meeting, an item up for discussion by Councilmember Winterer addressed potential improvements to the Home-Sharing Ordinance. Winterer requested that the Council direct staff to propose revisions to the ordinance, including limiting the number of home-shares any one property owner or entity can operate in the City of Santa Monica as well as guests allowed per room or dwelling.

“I think we’re all cognizant that there’s been some issues with one particular rental operation up in Adelaide,” Winterer began. “But even prior to that we’ve heard some concerns about a property in Sunset Park that was being rented in a similar fashion. I think we got out in front of this issue and did what I think is a great job with our ordinance, but you can always learn from experience. I think there’s opportunity to tighten it up and make sure that it works even better for the residents who want to do home sharing to generate some extra income but is not being abused by people who are just dropping whole scale businesses right in our residential neighborhood.” 

Winterer continued, “I know the City attorney’s office has already been working on this for some time, but I thought we ought to go out there and make it clear to the public this evening that we’re cognizant of these concerns and attend to address them. I might suggest that while we do the things I’ve enumerated, we also kind of take a look at whether the penalties we have in place are adequate to deter bad behavior, and I welcome suggestions from my colleagues about other things we might attempt to address in revision.” 

The motion was met with support from fellow members of City Council and directs City Staff to explore ways an ordinance could prevent such activity to occur in Santa Monica homes. 

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