This past Tuesday at City Hall was a busy one, especially if you have any interest in the developing short-term rental policies that our City Council is creating. Short-Term Rentals are the Airbnbs, HomeAways, and VBROs that operate across our city.
Depending on what side of the fence you’re on, they are an economic boom or a residential bust. In the 10 months since taking office, pressure has been on the New Orleans City Council to address the way these rentals operate.
The Council is looking for a balanced approach that supports residents, without shutting out the economy of the future. The City Planning Commission, a sub-body of the City Council, has issued a recommendation on specifics of the legislature. It puts New Orleans one step closer to a resolution.
Planning Commission Meeting
On Tuesday, the City Planning Commission moved to send a proposal for stricter short term-rental regulation to the full City Council for consideration. The vote from the Commission was 5-2.
In the proposal, several issues are addressed. A ban on short-term rentals in the French Quarter was upheld. However, an extension of that ban to the Garden District neighborhood was struck down. Additionally, the proposal required that all short-term rental operators need a homestead exemption in order to run their business. This means that they would have to live on the property in order to rent it out.
The Commission’s proposal recommended three types of short-term rental classifications:
- Partial Unit. This is for those renting a spare room in an otherwise occupied house.
- Small Unit. This would, for example, give the owner of a shotgun the ability to rent out one half while occupying the other.
- Large Unit. Here, up to three units could be rented out within a multi-family residential or mixed-use building. The owner would still have to live on the property.
A special exemption for the CBD in which larger complexes allow the capacity to offer up to 25% of their stock as short-term rentals. In this case, affordable-housing units would also have to be provided.
Currently, short-term rental owners have the ability to rent their whole home. Many of these operators have been operating for several years. During the meeting, they argued that policies should “grandfather in” those with previously issued “whole-home rental” licenses.
Overall, the commission’s plan takes a limiting approach to the spread of short-term rentals across residential areas. Proponents of the policy argue that the recommendation helps keep city residents from losing their properties to investment companies. A recent article by the Guardian took a look at this issue.
It’s hard to argue against the economic necessity of allowing short-term rentals into the local economy. But in doing so, we must always consider that local is the most important part of that. We must expect our representatives to establish fair conditions for the people who make the city what it is.
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