Onni Group wins battle over short-term stays at DTLA condo tower

A coalition of groups claimed the developer was operating an “unpermitted hotel”

Onni group president Rossano de Cotiis
Onni group president Rossano de Cotiis

Onni Group has been handed another development victory in Downtown Los Angeles.

City officials said the developer can continue providing short-term rentals at its DTLA condominium high-rise, rejecting an appeal from activist groups that argued the company was operating an “unpermitted hotel.”

It follows the city’s move to give the Canadian company the go-ahead on its redevelopment plans for the former Los Angeles Times headquarters. Opponents had wanted the entire complex designated a cultural historical monument.

Since last year, Onni has been offering furnished units for short-term rentals, dubbed Level Furnished Living residences, at its 35-story building at 888 Olive Street. Shortly after Onni began advertising the units, a coalition of groups — including a labor union and tenant advocacy organization — demanded the city investigate, alleging the practice was illegal.

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The Department of Building and Safety awarded Onni a permit last year to convert 97 condos at the Olive Street tower to extended-stay units. The remaining 206 units were to continue operating as residential condominiums.

The Department of City Planning upheld that permit earlier this month, according to a filing.

Onni won that right because of a provision in city law that was introduced decades ago. The so-called “transient occupancy residential structure” allows building owners in certain commercial areas to convert residential units to hotels, as long as the occupants stay for less than 30 days.

That didn’t stop the building’s residents and other groups from protesting the conversion. They argued the hotel-type uses at a condo would further contribute to the city’s affordable housing problem.

A representative for Onni did not respond to requests for comment.