Angelenos who rent out their digs through sites like Airbnb or VRBO may soon find themselves with a little less cash: Yesterday, City Councilmen Mike Bonin and Herb Wesson put forth a motion to regulate the home sharing trend through stricter regulations and a transient occupancy tax (the same tax that hotels are subject to).
Bonin and Wesson are tasking city lawyers and legislative analysts with examining home sharing systems in cities like San Francisco and Portland, asking that they come up with a similar arrangement for L.A. According to Bonin, the city needs “a regulatory model that will put neighborhoods first while paving the way for short-term rentals to thrive in an appropriate fashion in Los Angeles. The current system, which turns a blind eye to an important industry and its impact on our neighborhoods, our rental stock and the city treasury, works for no one,” he explained.
Bonin and Wesson contend that unregulated rentals have “begun to change the stable and familiar feel of many residential neighborhoods.” We can’t say we wholeheartedly agree—it would take quite a deluge of outsiders to retool the feel of an entire neighborhood—but Bonin’s other concern is worth noting: He pointed out that the home sharing system is being abused by commercial ventures, which often purchase rentals or even entire buildings en masse. These units, Bonin argues, are essentially “de facto hotels” that are “reducing and threatening the city’s stock of rental housing and affordable housing.”
Airbnb is on board with the motion, probably because they don’t want to lose the income that a tourism-centric city like L.A. provides. “L.A. is the creative capital of the world, and Councilman Bonin’s motion is a sensible step toward developing fair, progressive policies,” the company said in a statement.
With reporting from Jesy Odio