WeHo Might Ban Airbnb
West Hollywood is considering a ban on Airbnb and other room sharing services, much like Silver Lake and Venice before them. West Hollywood Shared Economy Task Force recommended that WeHo's City Council ban short-term rentals at a meeting last night, WeHoVille reports. The Shared Economy Task Force was formed in February of 2014 to look into services like Airbnb and Uber and make recommendations on how they should be regulated.
A short-term rental is defined as any space you can rent overnight for less than 30 days, which is essentially what you get in a hotel or when you use Airbnb. In WeHo, these are not allowed in any residential area. Hotels, the Task Force's report notes, typically wouldn't be allowed there either. However, a casual glance on the Airbnb website reveals hundreds of listings in WeHo alone.
While the Task Force's report indicated a concern for noise complaints and neighbor safety, many WeHo residents spoke at last night's meeting on behalf of the service. Some Airbnb hosts said they do it not only for the extra cash, but also because they enjoy meeting and socializing with their guests. There are also distinctions to be made between people who rent out portions of their apartment, who are likely violating their own renter's agreement with their landlord; those who own the home or building they're listing on Airbnb; and landlords who intentionally keep spaces open to make more money using Airbnb.
As for Airbnb's primary competitors—hotels and motels—the task force found that most of them don't see roomsharing as competition, but would like to see listers subject to similar taxes. In September of last year, Los Angeles officials told staff to begin messaging Airbnb and roomsharing hosts that they needed to start collecting a "transient occupancy tax." This California tax applies to short-term rentals, and accounts for 14 percent of the rent charged. Hotel and motels already do this.
Neighborhoods in L.A. have fought against Airbnb, too. Silver Lake had a similar battle in 2013, with residents complaining about traffic, transients and possible safety issues, Curbed LA reports. Other residents stood up in favor of roomsharing, and ultimately, Silver Lake was not successful in banning the services. Neither was Venice. WeHo may also get some resistance from Peers, a pro-sharing economy group that resisted both Silver Lake and Venice's attempts to ban roomsharing. Mayor Eric Garcetti has previously proposed a whistleblower program where neighbors who are upset by noisy or annoying rentals near them can complain, LA Weekly reports.
The task force made an additional recommendation regarding ridesharing apps: they suggested looking into making companies like Uber and Lyft use designated zones where users can be picked up or dropped off. This would be somewhat of a hassle for those users who rely on the ridesharing apps to be dropped off safely at their front door at night, especially after a night of partying.