Why Venice Beach is Ground Zero for Airbnb’s backlash

Los Angeles has proven to be quite favorable to the app economy. It has agreed to share information with traffic app company Waze, and this will likely allow Uber to start picking up passengers at LAX, despite some last-minute efforts from the taxi industry.

Airbnb, on the other hand, turns out to be a much stickier kiosk.

Next week, the Los Angeles City Council Land Use and Planning Committee will hold the first hearing on a City Council motion to regulate short-term rentals in LA Currently, short-term rentals are illegal but Widely available, the same type of legal gray area used by the city’s medical marijuana industry for over a decade.

The new proposal would make short-term rentals legal, but only if the accommodation is the owner’s primary residence.

In other words, you could short-term rent your couch, your back house, or even your entire house if you work out of town for four months. But you couldn’t rent your second home in Malibu, or a quadruple that you own. Because you don’t live there.

It is not surprising that the motion is co-sponsored by Councilor Mike Bonin, who represents Venice Beach. The hippie-filled seaside district, which not too long ago was a pretty sketchy place at night, is now one of the city’s most popular areas, especially for tourists.

“There has been a real increase in the number of tenants complaining that they have been evicted under false pretenses, so that the landlord can switch to short-term rentals,” said Amanda Seward, a tenants’ lawyer.

Elena Popp, founder of the Eviction Defense Network, has seen the same trend across the city, but especially in Venice.

“Venice is a nightmare,” she says.

Everyone knows that finding accommodation in Venice Beach is a bitch. But there are over 1,000 units for rent at Venice Beach on Airbnb. According to a study published by the Los Angeles Association for a New Economy (or LAANE) in March, it’s more than any other neighborhood in Los Angeles, and it accounts for over $ 13 million in income for owners – income that is not taxed by the city like actual hotel income.

Credit: LAANE

Credit: LAANE

According to the Airbnb website, the average rental in Venice costs less than $ 200 per night, for a weekday night. Weekends average about $ 225. The more expensive places cost over $ 1,000 per night.

From a landlord’s perspective, there is money to be made in the short-term rental game, whether it’s using Airbnb or just doing it the old-fashioned way, on Craigslist, or on your own. website. And if a landlord’s unit falls under the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Order (that is, all apartments built before 1978), landlords are prohibited from raising the rent above of a certain amount, and these buildings can only be demolished or withdrawn from the market under certain circumstances. . For owners with limited stabilized rents, the temptation to transform their buildings into unofficial hotels is even greater.

“People are being kicked out, harassed, intimidated into leaving their homes,” says Judith Goldman, co-founder of Keep Neighborhoods First, a group fighting the spread of short-term rentals across LA. “Converting buildings to short-term rentals in these destination neighborhood [like Venice] became a tsunami.

Now Goldman’s group is fighting back by hiring a public relations person and a lobbyist.

Tomorrow, August 19, at the meeting of the planning commission for the western area of ​​the city, they will appeal a decision in which they claim that the tenants of Venice Beach were forced to give up their apartments, which were then converted into short term rentals.

Goldman says many apartment buildings in the area have been completely turned into unofficial hotels.

“These opportunistic landlords are playing with the sharing economy to illegally convert affordable housing into disguised hotels,” she says. “It’s not house-sharing, it’s snatching.”

Mike Bonin spokesperson David Graham-Caso says his office is aware of the situation and the order he co-wrote is designed to address it.

“It really abuses the interest of sharing the house,” Graham-Caso explains. “Hotels are devastating [our] affordable housing. And we really can’t afford that in Venice.

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