Airbnb listings tumble in Santa Monica

Restrictive 2016 ordinance and higher fines are likely dampening industry

Jul.July 18, 2018 03:00 PM
Santa Monica Pier, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, and Santa Monica Mayor Ted Winterer

The number of Airbnb listings in Santa Monica fell by 17 percent over the last year, a possible indication that the city’s stricter home-sharing laws are having a cooling effect on the industry.

There were 1,016 listings in Santa Monica in June, down by 199 compared to June 2017, according to data from Airbnb market tracker AirDNA that was first reported by the Santa Monica Daily Press. Many of those appear to be illegal. Only 303 operators have registered with the city, as required by a 2016 ordinance meant to restrict short-term rentals in the city.

Higher fines for illegal listings, which Santa Monica upped in January to $500 from $75, could also have contributed to the drop in listings. A resident told the Daily Press that Airbnb would not allow him to post a guest room in his home without the license required by the city. The Santa Monica ordinance also bars hosts from renting out their homes when they are not present.

Other cities in California have strict rules regulating home-sharing, including San Francisco, where hosts can only rent for a maximum of 90 days per year. San Diego passed restrictive laws this week that will come into effect next year. They limit yearly renting to 180 days and outlaw home-sharing of second homes.

Santa Monica has fought a pitched court battle with Airbnb and smaller platforms over the ordinance. The city scored a major victory at the end of last month when a federal judge tossed Airbnb’s appeal that it violated a number of federal and state statutes. Airbnb has vowed to appeal another way and is fighting another case over the California Coastal Act, which protects public access to the coastline.

Airbnb is embroiled in other battles with lawmakers in cities across Los Angeles. A number of cities have passed their own ordinances restricting home-sharing, including West Hollywood and Pasadena, but the company’s biggest threat in L.A. is a proposed ordinance making its way through Los Angeles City Hall. [Santa Monica Daily Press] – Dennis Lynch 

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