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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Short-term Rentals Pass Planning; To Return to Planning for Review Before City Council Vote

Short-term rental rules passed the Planning and Land Use Management committee (PLUM) this week. All will return for review before going to City Council for vote.

Here are highlights:
Primiary residences qualify for short-term rentals but for only 120 days per year. An extension could occur but extension qualifications is not clear. Cost of extensions are not stated but they could run from $1000 to $5660.

Carl Lambert at Venice won a battle recently that stated an apartment can be rented for less than 30 days. So apartments can be used for short-term rentals. New law would prohibit rent stabilized units and apartments with affordable housing covenants from being rentals.

Enforcement would be a fine of $500 per day for advertising an illegal rental. Platform advertising such unit would be fined $1000 daily for an illegal listing or for refusing to hand over addresses of unregistered rentals.

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_share.aspx?guid=a36a5e0e-c8a0-4830-ac0c-8877e2737aaf

STR Is There/Will There Be Enforcement?

The Venice Canals Action Committee reports that the same short-term rental house on Sherman Canal that international attorney Ed Rucker provided the facts to the City for enforcement/prosecution of violation of the short-term rental law is once again being used as an Airbnb short-term rental.

The old or present LA Planning ordinance states that single-family residences cannot be rented for short-term rentals. The new, proposed ordinance that will govern short-term rentals states that one can use a portion of a single-family residence as a short-term rental if the owner resides on the property and then for no more than 120 or 180 days.

In this case, the owner is in violation with either the old or the new ordinance.

Short Term Rentals (STR) have been bantered around significantly of late and followed by the press, organizations have sprung up to protect neighborhoods, unlimited meetings and town halls have occurred to stop this disruption. What started out as a protection for neighborhoods soon evolved into preserving the rent-controlled rental inventory, and seems to have found traction in the latter, as evidenced by the recent law suits, such as in Venice against Venice Suites and Venice Beach Suites.

Law suits have occurred with cities and Airbnb. Will Airbnb collect the taxes, will they register their clients?

But the bottom line is will there be enforcement in neighborhoods? Neighborhoods want to know. Neighborhoods do not care about the transient tax collections. They do not care if Airbnb registers the units. They want that house with the transient occupants out of the neighborhood. They want that party house out of the neighborhood for sure. They want a neighborhood, not a block of houses rented as hotels.

Violation of neighborhoods was the original reason Keep Neighborhoods First and other organizations, not in Venice, were organized. That party house is what was illegal before and will be, according to the new planning document, unless the owner lives on the property and rents for only 120 or 180 days of the year.

The question is: Does this provide more loop holes?–Did the owner just step out? Who keeps track of the days? And many, many more questions.

Where is everyone with this Airbnb now?

By Barbara Broide

This article claims Airbnb (http://www.dailynews.com/20160718/los-angeles-airbnb-guests-on-the-hook-for-new-lodging-fees)   will collect taxes on behalf of LA properties that are listed on Airbnd and do so for a three-year period. Airbnb sues San Francisco to block rental registration  ( http://www.wsj.com/article_email/airbnb-sues-san-francisco-to-block-rental-registration-law-1467081805-lMyQjAxMTE2NDIzODgyMTgyWj ).Santa Monica convicted a violator.

At its meeting where the Planning Department staff report on short term rentals was considered, the City Planning Commission increased the number of days allowed for renting short term (now renamed and referred to as “shared housing” by the City) to 180 days/year per property. The staff report recommended 120 days. The measure hasn’t yet returned to PLUM or full Council but there is an apparent agreement to have Airbnb collect and pay the transient occupancy tax to the City for those hosting on its platform.

How is the agreement structured to ensure host compliance with City law and what else is in the agreement?

How does this agreement compare to the agreement/ordinance passed in San Francisco that Airbnb is now contesting in court?

Does the City have the ability to enforce an adopted ordinance as a result of the agreement?

What happened to the City registration requirement and the listing of only registered units? How will this be monitored?

Will Airbnb be providing information to the City to ensure that hosts will not rent for days beyond the legal limit? How will the City be able to monitor hosts who advertise on multiple (or other) platforms beyond Airbnb?

What happens on those platrforms that claim that they cannot collect taxes for the City? Will they provide the information needed to enforce and regulate the short-term rentals? Can they be halted from listing properties in the City if they do not provide data and/or collect taxes?

How can the City enter into an agreement with Airbnb to collect taxes on an activity that is illegal?

Will it be collecting taxes on illegal units (or will the City rush to adopt an ordinance without doing outreach)?

It would be an understatement to say that the City lacks credibility on matters of enforcement. Where is the framework for enforcement and the full enforcement plan? What are the legal tools, penalties, staff plans and costs (for enforcement and litigation)?

Why isn’t the City taking action NOW to enforce against operators who are renting out multiple locations NOW (as opposed to just going after the most obvious violators who own rent controlled units and who have evicted their tenants in preference to doing short-term rentals)? Operators/”hosts” have left Santa Monica and are now renting properties in LA exclusively to operate as short term rentals. Many operators list multiple locations. Where is the plan for inspectors and the numbers of inspectors needed per a specific number of units? How will the City enforce?

Or, as many have suspected, was this just about getting the money from the tax and the rest doesn’t matter….. ?

THE CITY OF LOS ANGELES CLAIMS TO BE FOCUSED ON ADDRESSING THE AFFORDABLE HOUSING CRISIS AND THE HOMELESS ISSUE. SO, WHAT DOES IT DO? IT MOVES FORWARD TO LEGALIZE SHORT TERM RENTALS THAT WILL DISPLACE TENANTS IN HOMES AND APARTMENTS THAT ARE NOT RENT CONTROLLED. IT HURRIES FORWARD TO LEGALIZE SHORT TERM RENTALS THAT WILL ADD TO RENTAL PRICE INFLATION BY ALLOWING LANDLORDS TO RENT SHORT TERM FOR MORE $$$, RATHER THAN HAVE MORE PERMANENT TENANTS SUCH AS REGULAR WORKING PEOPLE, FAMILIES, THE ELDERLY AND/OR STUDENTS.

WHEN YOU DISPLACE REGULAR TENANTS IN FAVOR OF SHORT TERM VISITOR RENTALS, WHAT DO YOU DO? YOU DECREASE THE SUPPLY OF AVAILABLE RENTAL UNITS TO LA RESIDENTS. BY DECREASING THE SUPPLY YOU INCREASE THE COST, AND ALSO INCREASE THE NUMBERS OF THOSE AT RISK OF BECOMING HOMELESS.

THERE IS A RATHER HUGE PARADOX AT PLAY HERE. THE MAJORITY OF THE 10 PERCENT TAX THAT IS BEING COLLECTED ON THE SHORT TERM RENTALS WILL BE USED TO FUND HOMELESS HOUSING EFFORTS. DID ANYONE ATTEMPT TO ESTIMATE HOW MANY UNITS WILL BE LOST SHOULD SHORT TERM RENTALS BECOME LEGAL? THERE IS AN EDUCATED ESTIMATE AS TO THE NUMBER THAT EXIST IN TODAY’S MARKETPLACE WHERE “HOSTS” ARE WILLING TO BREAK THE LAW TO TAKE IN SHORT TERM RENTERS. WE DO NOT KNOW HOW MANY MORE WILL CHOOSE TO ENTER THE SHORT TERM RENTAL MARKETPLACE ONCE THE PRACTICE HAS BEEN DEEMED LEGAL BY THE CITY. IT DOESN’T SEEM AS THOUGH THOSE IN CITY HALL CARE.

This discussion doesn’t begin to address the issues related to the challenges of enforcing any ordinance eventually adopted. How will the City know whether a host has reached his/her/their maximum number of days for renting? How can the City ensure that all short term rentals are reported? How do you stop a repeat renter from dealing directly with the host and therefore bypass the platform? There are many questions and issues that have not yet been answered and that apply no matter the number of days eventually permitted. They include: negative impacts on neighborhood stability, inabiity to maintain neighborhood and individual building security integrity, undermining of neighborhood watch programs that encourage neighbors to get to know their neighbors and look out for one another which is difficult to do if your neighbors are changing every night or two (or three). The ability of a block to absorb large parties with multiple vehicles and many individuals. What are the cumulative impacts on neighbors’ and neighborhood quality of life? How to reconcile the operation of a business in a residential zone? What does it mean to live in a residential zone?

On the labor side of things, it is the hospitality industry that provided for the most significant job increases in the May LA employment report. Do we really want to encourage the undermining of the hotel segment of our business community? There were no smaller operators of franchised or individual hotell/motel operations speaking at the hearing. What is the potential impact on their business and occupancy figures? Which segment of the industry is likely to be most impacted and how?

AS THIS IS A CITYWIDE ISSUE OF GREAT INTEREST AND CONCERN, IT IS CRITICAL THAT NEIGHBORHOOD COUNCILS AND COMMUNITY GROUPS HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE INFORMED ABOUT THE CITY PLANNING COMMISSION’S RECOMMENDATIONS, THE AGREEMENT WITH AIR BNB, AND TO REVIEW THE PLANNING DEPARTMENT STAFF REPORT BEFORE PLUM MEETS TO CONSIDER THE ORDINANCE. WITHOUT OUTREACH AND ADEQUATE TIME TO CONSIDER THE ISSUE, THE VOICES IN THE HEARING ROOM WILL CONTINUE TO PRIMARILY BE THOSE HOSTS WHOSE LAWBREAKING ACTIVITIES ARE AT RISK — AND THEIR LOBBYISTS.

I end where I started. What to do?

STR Owner Convicted, Fined in Santa Monica

Landlord who specialized in short-term rentals was convicted in Santa Monica and fined. See LA Times http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-santa-monica-airbnb-conviction-20160713-snap-story.html

What Impact Will STR Ordinance Have on Venice Rental Market?

Marie Hammond asked the question: What impact will the new Short-Term Rental (STR) ordinance, when operative, have on the Venice rental market? Hammond provided the AirBnB map showing 1500 units in Venice as of January 2016. The information also shows that the City Planning Commission considers Venice a focal point for the STR market. Will this put a glut of vacancies in Venice? Will the rents go down?

City Planning

Short-Term Rental Ordinance Hearing, Thursday

Short-term rental ordinance hearing will be heard by the City Planning Commission Thursday, 10 am, Council Chambers, room 340, Los Angeles City Hall, 200 N. Spring Street. The short-term rental ordinance is now referred to as the Los Angeles Home-Sharing Ordinance.

City Attorney Files Actions Against STR; Venice Suites, Venice Beach Suites Named

 

LOS ANGELES – Seeking to preserve much-needed affordable housing, City Attorney Mike Feuer is taking action against the owners of four properties for allegedly unlawfully converting and operating rent stabilized apartment buildings as short-term rentals or hotels.

“In a city with a profound shortage of affordable housing, unlawfully converting rental units to operate hotels has got to stop,” said Feuer.  “My office will continue to intervene to keep rent-stabilized units on the market and hold owners accountable for not complying with the law.”

The City Attorney filed civil cases against the owners and operators of three apartment buildings each subject to the City’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO), alleging that the property owners are illegally operating and advertising as hotels. The lawsuits seek a court appointed receiver to operate the properties until they are brought into compliance, as well as restitution and significant civil penalties.

Carl Lambert, the owner of Venice Suites (417 Ocean Front Walk), allegedly has operated and advertised the 32-unit apartment building in Venice as a hotel complete with its own website and regular hotel amenities. In January, 2015, the Department of Housing and Community Development (“HCIDLA”) issued Orders to Comply to discontinue use as a hotel. Those orders allegedly continue to be ignored by the defendant.

William Andrew Layman, Rose Layman and Matthew Moore, the owners and managers of Venice Beach Suites (1305 Ocean Front Walk), allegedly operate the 30-unit apartment building as a hotel, extensively using internet sites to advertise the apartment units as hotel rooms for reservations, though the zoning for the location does not allow for its current use. In January 2015, HCIDLA issued Orders to Comply to the property owners citing the illegal use as a hotel. Those orders allegedly continue to be ignored by the defendants.

George Panoussis owns a 59-unit apartment building (830 N. Van Ness Avenue) allegedly operating and advertising as the Hollywood Dream Suites Hotel in direct violation of the area’s residential zoning requirements. Panoussis and his co-defendants allegedly have denied inspectors access to the premises at least eight times. In January, 2014, HCIDLA issued Orders to Comply to the property owner for illegally using the property as a hotel without proper permits from the Department of Building and Safety. Those orders allegedly continue to be ignored by the defendants.

At a fourth property, Carol Jean Alsman, the owner of a 4-unit property located at 500 N. Genesee Avenue, was charged with six counts in a criminal case alleging:  failure to comply with an Order to Comply, zoning violations; illegal use without proper building permits, failure to file notice of intention to re-rent, failure to offer rental to displaced tenants, and renting property within five years after withdrawing from the rental market under the Ellis Act.

The complaint alleges Alsman applied under the Ellis Act to remove her rent-controlled property from the rental market and complied with all regulations to have tenants compensated and relocated. However, Alsman allegedly began renting those units shortly thereafter through Airbnb and failed to allow former tenants an opportunity to re-rent those units, in direct violation of the provisions of the Los Angeles Municipal Code.

The City Attorney will be sending a list of Ellis Act properties to Airbnb and other short-term rental platforms as a preemptive measure to prevent listing of similar properties.

Assistant City Attorney Tina Hess and Deputy City Attorney Andrew Wong are handling the litigation.

 

Public Hearing for Short-Term Rentals, 21 May

Public hearing for the draft Short-Term Rental ordinance that was released by the Planning Department 15 April will be held 10 am, 21 May at Ronald F. Deaton Auditorium, 100 W 1st Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012.

Note that the public refers to the ordinance as the “Short-Term Rental” ordinance while the Los Angeles City Planning Department refers to it as the “Home-Sharing” Ordinance (CF 16-1435-S2) that addresses the short-term rentals in Los Angeles.

After the hearing, the ordinance will be considered by the City Planning Commission, likely at 8:30 am, 23 June meeting in the Van Nuys City Hall, 6262 Van Nuys Blvd, 91401, according to Tricia Keane, planning director for Councilman Mike Bonin.

“There will be further notice for that meeting, and there will be a staff report made available two weeks prior to the meeting,” Keane wrote.

Comments can be sent to Matthew Glesne, Housing Planner, matthew.glesne@lacity.org, 213-978-2666, prior to 6 June.

New Short-Term Rental Ordinance Draft Out

By David Graham-Caso, communications director for Councilman Mike Bonin

LOS ANGELES – After months of work and collaboration with neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles, the Department of City Planning today released a draft ordinance regulating short-term rentals in Los Angeles that will protect both affordable housing and neighborhoods while still allowing people to rent their primary residences for home-sharing.

Councilmember Mike Bonin and City Council President Herb Wesson, who originally proposed the regulations, applauded the draft ordinance.

“This draft ordinance proposes an enforceable system to protect affordable housing and our neighborhoods from rogue hotel operators, while still allowing people to make ends meet by sharing their primary residence,” said Bonin. “I appreciate the hard work of the planning staff and the input of hundreds of neighbors who helped get these smart regulations ready to be considered by the Planning Commission and City Council.”

“From the beginning we sought a solution that balanced the needs of neighborhoods while protecting the city’s affordable housing stock,” said Wesson. “Today we are a step closer to maximizing the L.A. tourist experience while allowing the city to use new transit-occupancy tax revenues to deliver constituent services.”

Under the proposed regulations, people who would like to offer their homes as short-term rentals would need to register as a host with the Department of City Planning, which would include signing up with the Department of Finance to pay Transient Occupancy Taxes to the City. Once registered, hosts would be required to include their registration number on all advertisements for the rental. This would prevent speculators from purchasing entire buildings, evicting tenants, and replacing scarce rental stock with de facto hotels.

Additionally, hosts would not be able to register properties that are under affordable housing covenants or the city’s rent stabilization ordinance, and hosts would only be allowed to register their primary residence for short-term rentals. Finally, hosts would only be allowed to rent their property for a maximum of 90 days a year.

“The draft ordinance establishes clear guidelines for how people can honestly homeshare,” said Bonin. “Even better, the registration process would make it very easy to know if a host is offering a short-term rental that is not allowed under the new rules, which will help the City enforce these new rules and protect affordable housing in our neighborhoods.”

Neighborhood character would also be protected by the draft ordinance, which would make hosts legally responsible for all nuisance violations by their guests. Violations of the ordinance would be a misdemeanor, and the draft outlines financial penalties for listing rentals without a valid registration number or listing a rental for more than 90 days in a year.

The draft ordinance would also place enforcement and reporting requirements on homesharing sites, which would help the City enforce the new rules. Sites would be required to actively prevent listings without a host registration number and they would need to provide a monthly inventory of rentals in the city.

The first public hearing to gather input on the ordinance is being scheduled for Saturday May 21st at 10am at the Deaton Auditorium (100 W 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012). The ordinance will then be considered by the City Planning Commission on June 23rd.

The ordinance can be found at:
http://www.11thdistrict.com/bonin_and_wesson_applaud_draft_short_term_rental_ordinance

There Goes the Neighborhood–Is it Yours?

By Judith Goldman
Judith Goldman is a co-founder of Keep Neighborhoods First, a community group that opposes the widespread commercialization of short-term rentals. She feels Los Angeles needs comprehensive regulations to curb short-term rental abuses

Perhaps no other area of Los Angeles is feeling the intense negative impacts of the short-term rental industry more than Venice.

Most of us have experienced partying vacationers disrupting our streets and impeding safety. It’s no understatement to say they are everywhere. Loud visitors who have little to no regard for the sanctity of our homes and communities have replaced formerly stable streets filled with neighbors we could trust and rely on.

Perhaps even more alarming is that money-hungry landlords are victimizing our longtime neighbors. Young tenants are being intimidated. Senior citizens are being harassed until they agree to relocate. Tenants who have lived in their homes for decades are being forced to wait weeks for repairs. Why? Because landlords can make thousands of dollars more per month by offering an apartment as a short-term rental, and many are doing whatever they can to vacate residents.

Los Angeles is losing many homes once protected under the city’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance. In Venice in particular, it seems like virtually every apartment complex is involved with short-term rentals in some capacity. Many RSO buildings have been completely cleared out of long-term tenants and are essentially operating as rogue de-facto hotels.

Some landlords are allowing units to sit vacant in order to convert each empty unit into a short-term rental. Remaining tenants face a loss of community, security and, in some cases, available parking. They sit and watch as empty units are upgraded to attract tourists, while their own units sit in disrepair — leading them to eventually give in and move out. Landlords are evading the city’s rent-control regulations to unfairly cash in on higher nightly rates.

Just recently, local media reported a story of two Hollywood residents that had been wrongfully evicted, only to have their units later listed on Airbnb for use as short-term rentals. While these tenants are suing the landlord, we at Keep Neighborhoods First know of many other landlords who are doing the same thing and facing zero repercussions.

Meanwhile, the entire city of Los Angeles is grappling with a severe housing shortage. It is heartbreaking to see affordable housing units taken off the market and converted to short-term rentals by greedy landlords.

We love having visitors in our beach communities. Tourism is one of our biggest economic stimulators, and the increase in illegal de-facto hotels — some of them being purchased by overseas owners —shows that tourism is booming on the Westside.

Do we need additional hotel rooms to accommodate visitors? Perhaps. But let’s study that and create a legal process for moving forward. We must find a balance between tourists’ access to beach communities and the loss of long-term rental housing that threatens community character and cohesion.

Keep Neighborhoods First was formed to protect our neighbors and neighborhoods from abuses. We are working to influence the regulations currently being proposed in Los Angeles. Specifically, we hope city leaders will enact short-term rental regulations that are comprehensive and enforceable.

To get the job done, local government must work with hosts and rental platforms. We are calling for an online registration system that would allow hosts to provide information needed for enforcement, but the city will also need the rental platforms to require that all their hosts register with the city.

Finally, we believe that only a home’s primary residents should be allowed to offer short-term rentals, with a firm prohibition against landlords converting rent-controlled units into short-term rentals.
As similar discussions take place all over the world, Keep Neighborhoods First will continue the fight until the city of Los Angeles adopts regulations that shelter renters from abuses and protect the integrity of our communities. We are counting on our leaders to do this right.