El Segundo extends short-term rental pilot program – Daily Breeze
El Segundo is preparing to expand its home-sharing pilot program.
City Council must approve an ordinance to do so after a second reading and vote early next month.
At the council meeting this week, city staff had recommended that the committee permanently adopt the program, which allows landlords to apply for permits to rent out their properties. But instead, the council asked the city attorney to rewrite the order on the fly to extend the short-term rental program, which was due to expire next month, until December 2023 so officials can keep tabs on attendees and any potential violations.
The board gave initial approval at the same time. But a second vote, scheduled for December 6, is needed to formally adopt the extension.
The program was initially approved in 2020, but was discontinued soon after due to pandemic constraints. The program began in earnest in the fall of 2021.
“There was a proliferation of short-term rentals (about five years ago),” planning manager Eduardo Schonborn said at the council meeting this week, “and many cities were trying to figure out what To do.”
The planning commission and city council held multiple hearings on regulating short-term rentals from around 2017 to 2019, Schonborn said, ultimately landing on a home-sharing pilot process that allows landlords to apply permit rent space in their home for 30 consecutive days or less.
The caveat was that landlords should primarily live in residences, in an effort to ward off party renters and property buyers who want to acquire homes just to rent them out full-time.
A five-bedroom short-term rental in the city that generated complaints from residents in 2018 triggered the creation of the licensing program. This rental is still listed on Airbnb as a place to “entertain (in) El Segundo” for 30 days or more.
An Airbnb search on Tuesday, November 15 showed 20 short-term rental listings in El Segundo, while Vrbo showed 16.
Since the pilot program began, 20 landlords have received permits to host short-term rentals, which staff say is a sign of progress.
Board members, however, said at Tuesday’s meeting that they weren’t convinced that having the process in place would bring all the nonconformists into shape.
The 20 licensed properties are scattered throughout the city, Schonborn said, with no known clusters that might bother neighbors. He noted a decrease in non-compliant home-sharing listings since the permit program was created and no complaints among authorized individuals.
The city’s code compliance inspector verifies listing agency websites and provides reports to staff with which to cross-check city-authorized rentals, Director of Development Services Michael Allen said Tuesday.
Councilman Chris Pimentel, however, said short-term rentals on the street where he lives are not on the city’s map of licensed homes. The scheme, he said, has not yet shown enough success to expect non-compliants to apply for permits from the council making it permanent.
“We have enough runaways there that I would be more comfortable if we had a more robust app to keep them under control,” Pimentel said. “Even with a cursory check of online sites, there are plenty of unlicensed listings.”
Councilwoman Carol Pirsztuk agreed, adding that adopting the program permanently would make it harder for the city to regulate rentals and their operators.
Councilor Lance Giroux, for his part, suggested a fine of $5,000 for first offences.
“There shouldn’t be three strikes at this point,” Giroux said. “They had 15 months to comply.”
In a permanent program, permits should be renewed annually, like a business license.
If approved Dec. 6, the temporary pilot program will continue for another year so staff can consider how to proceed with a potential long-term house-sharing program and penalties for non-compilers.