LA County to crack down on short-term rentals in unincorporated areas

Rules would limit venues to primary residences and levy annual fee of $914

LA County to Crack Down on Short-Term Rentals

From left: Kathryn Barger, Lindsey Horvath and Hilda Solis (Getty, Lawsoup)

Los Angeles County plans to crack down on short-term rentals such as Airbnb in unincorporated areas in order to protect permanent homes for working-class residents.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to restrict short-term rentals, with an updated ordinance expected to be heard on March 19, the Whittier Daily News reported.

Since 2019, the average number of short-term rentals across the county has more than doubled, according to First District Supervisor Hilda Solis, who has seen vacation rentals soar in East Los Angeles, City Terrace, Hacienda Heights and Rowland Heights.

“I am deeply concerned about the growth of short-term rentals in unincorporated county areas and the impact on our supply of affordable housing in these unincorporated areas,” Solis said. “There’s evidence that commercial entities and corporations are taking advantage of cheaper housing stock in East L.A. to make a profit.”

Many residents, including those who have to move farther away to find an affordable apartment or are faced with $400 rent hikes, said the short-term rentals are gobbling up long-term rental options. 

There are more than 2,600 un-hosted short-term rentals in unincorporated county areas, according to the nonprofit Better Neighbors L.A. “Un-hosted” refers to sites where the owner is not present during the rental.

If approved, the ordinance and change of zoning regulations within coastal regions of unincorporated L.A. County, such as Marina del Rey, the Santa Monica Mountains and Catalina Island would not take effect without the approval of the California Coastal Commission.

A draft ordinance on such short-term vacation rentals would:

• Limit rentals to primary residences, while barring rentals of accessory dwelling units, guest houses, tents, unpermitted rooms or additions and apartments designated for low-income residents.

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• Ban commercial rentals and “party houses.” 

• Restrict rentals to a maximum of 30 consecutive days, while restricting “un-hosted rentals” to 90 nights a year.

• Limit each rental to two people per bedroom, plus two more elsewhere in the house, with a maximum occupancy of 12.

The draft requires all hosts to register with the county and pay an annual licensing fee of $914.

After hearing from landlords who rent their home or a room for short-term stays to pay expenses, the supervisors asked that the new version of the ordinance include a mechanism for subsidizing or lowering this fee for low-income hosts.

A revision requested by Third District Supervisor Lindsey Horvath, and approved by the entire board, would allow a host to live in an ADU or a trailer on the property while renting out the main house to guests. 

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Fifth District Supervisor Kathryn Barger was concerned about senior adults who are using short-term rentals to stay in their homes. She wanted to know why the staff did not carve out exceptions for these cases.

Enforcement would mostly come from responses to citizen complaints, according to the newspaper. Staff would be hired to collect overdue licensing fees and enforce restrictions, the county reported.

— Dana Bartholomew