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Santa Monica Bans Most Airbnb Rentals

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The carefree days of renting an Airbnb vacation home in Santa Monica are pretty much over. The city voted on Tuesday to ban most Airbnb rentals—and the stringent rules will go into effect in a month's time.

The new rules state that Airbnb renters won't be able to rent out their entire unit if it's for fewer than 30 days, the L.A. Times reports. What is legal is "home-sharing," meaning that it's fine if they rent out just an extra room or a space on the couch. However, there's a catch: they'll have to get a business license, pay Santa Monica's 14% hotel tax, and the owner or host will have to be on site when their renter stays at their place.

With this new crackdown, a whopping 1,400 out of 1,700 Santa Monica vacation rentals listed on the Airbnb website will be banned when the new law goes into effect in 30 days.

The reason behind this ban is that Santa Monica residents have been complaining to city officials that the Airbnb rentals are part of reason there's a housing shortage, CBS Los Angeles reports. "When we in Santa Monica found that over a 1,000 dwelling units that should be homes to permanent residents had been converted instead to de facto hotel rooms, we felt we had to act, and we all felt the same way about it," Mayor Kevin McKeown said.

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Not everyone is happy about these new rules. Over 100 people who support Airbnb rentals rallied outside of Santa Monica City Hall yesterday afternoon, a protest that was organized by Airbnb. Some said that the rentals helped them afford the expensive housing in Santa Monica while they travel occasionally. Many of them told KPCC that they didn't mind paying the tax, but were upset because they would like to be able to rent out their place when they are traveling out of town.

Airbnb spokesperson Alison Schumer told KPCC that the Santa Monica ban was a first that they've seen. "The unnecessarily restrictive proposal would prohibit hosts from sharing their home with guests while the host is out of town — a unique provision which has never before been proposed," Schumer said.

Residents are afraid that the effects of this ordinance will reverberate to other cities. “That is one of our tremendous fears,” Robert St. Genis, spokesman for the Los Angeles Short-Term Rental Alliance, an association of short-term rental property managers, told the Times. “We don’t want to see this end up in Pasadena, Manhattan Beach, you name it.”

They won't go quietly without putting up a fight either. St. Genis said, "We believe this legislation is flawed, constitutionally questionable and likely to lead to litigation."

Related:
Santa Monica Moves To Ban Most Airbnb Rentals
How Airbnb Is A Blessing And A Curse For L.A. Renters