By Bruce Meade
Looked for a place to live in Venice lately? Then you know rents are astronomical for even the smallest spaces. Big demand, small supply.
A supply that is dwindling even further as landlords convert long-term rental units to short-term (under 30 days), which happens to be illegal in a residential zone. But since when does the law matter when Big Money is involved?
Advocates of affordable housing decry the loss of units, which squeezes the rental market even tighter.
Advocates of the “sharing economy” decry the loss of a chance to make a buck, or save a buck, as the case may be.
Here are some of the players in the short-term rental game:
Online Brokers such as AirBnB, etc.: they take their percentage from each side of the transaction and look the other way when things go south. Just another multi-million dollar industry. Tenants, be aware: if you sub-rent your place online your landlord can evict you. Most lease agreements have provisions against sub-renting, sub-leasing and against having guests over for more than a week or two. If you are a landlord, be even more aware: it is a zoning code violation to run a hotel in a residential area. Building and Safety is currently zoning in on these code violations with fines.
The Los Angeles Short Term Rental Alliance (LA-STRA) is a recently formed group of landlords alarmed by the fact that some cities, like New York and New Orleans, have already banned short-term rentals. They want to make sure Venice remains a gravy bowl of profit. They want less stringent rules and oversight on short-term rentals. If they have their way, affordable housing in Venice will be harder to find than a pay phone.
Keep Neighborhoods First is a grass-roots Venice organization set up to educate and inform the public about the onslaught of short-term rentals in Venice. Go to their website, keepneighborhoodsfirst.com, to learn more about getting involved in this looming economic issue. The Venice Neighborhood Council is currently thinking about addressing the issue: get involved by attending meetings and taking a stand.
And a final thought: just because something is profitable does not make it right. Without affordable housing, Venice can say good-bye to whatever diversity is left here. Short-term rentals, left unchecked, may turn Venice into a city of strangers.
Categories: Short-term rentals
Dear Mr. Mead, I am the Alliance Coordinator for the Los Angeles Short Term Rental Alliance. I read your article and am dismayed that you have not even bothered to look at our website to find out who “we” are. Los Angeles Short Term Rental Alliance includes professional vacation and corporate rental managers, AirBnB hosts, property owners, management companies, and members of the Los Angeles business community as members. The Los Angeles Short Term Rental Alliance supports preserving the character of Los Angeles neighborhoods and protecting the quality of life of its residents. As advocates for property rights and neighborhood stability, LA-STRA maintains that homeowners also have a right to provide short term rentals, and encourage that all homeowners and businesses participate in safeguarding the right to do Short Term rentals by joining LA-STRA, educating guests on “good neighbor” code, and paying the City Transient Occupancy Tax.
After close examination of your website and a bit of digging on LA-STRA, I must agree with Mr. Meade’s assessment.
Though you claim to defend a homeowner’s “right to provide short term rentals,” your membership consists primarily of individuals who buy or rent multiple properties and then convert them into short term rentals. These are not homeowners renting out a room in order to make ends meet, but rather real estate developers and mass market property managers. They grab up every available rental – including those protected by rent control – and offer owners inflated prices for “master leases,” making it nearly impossible for long-term residents to find housing.
Furthermore, I have it on reliable authority that, during a public LA-STRA meeting, your leadership recommended that such managers pursue illegal short term rentals in anticipation of a change in legislation.
By what “right” do homeowners illegally operate short term rentals in residential zones? By what “right” do “members of the Los Angeles business community” stockpile affordable housing at the expense of families in need of a home?
Ok, I’ll step off my pedestal now. Just couldn’t let that one go unanswered. And, in the spirit of fair visibility, here’s the link to Ms. Raine’s opposition: http://www.keepneighborhoodsfirst.com
Correction: Mr. Meade