Glendale officials soften proposed Airbnb rules

Glendale City Council members are still tweaking rules to regulate Airbnb and other short-term rental practices. Recently, they tentatively walked back several restrictions they advocated for a year ago.
(Carl Court / Getty Images)

Glendale officials made several tentative concessions to Airbnb and other short-term rental hosts who showed up in force at a City Council meeting on Tuesday to voice their concerns about regulations that are in the works.

Glendale City Council members said they would reconsider a total ban on vacation rentals — where a host isn’t present during a guest’s stay — after hearing from several hosts and an Airbnb representative.

They also eliminated a cap on how many days a host who is present during a guest’s stay — known as home-sharing — can rent out a portion of their dwelling.

Last fall, the same council members indicated a desire to do away with all vacation rentals, citing nuisance issues they were creating — including noise, late-night parties and theft.

Previously, the proposed regulations included a 180-day rental cap for home-sharing.

“Our Airbnb income has allowed us to stay in our beloved family home,” said Shawn Kelly, a 60-year resident of Glendale who has lived in the home for 19 years, during the meeting on Tuesday.

Kelly said she and her husband would consider selling the home where their children grew up if a 180-day cap went into effect. They currently rent out portions of their four-bedroom house in La Crescenta about 300 nights a year, she added.

None of the revisions of the ordinance that were made during the meeting are set in stone.

Changing the timeline of a vote on the legislation that was expected to happen within two weeks, council members asked city staff to instead meet with industry representatives and stakeholders for additional information and guidance.

As a result, the proposed ordinance will likely return for consideration in 45 days, according to Bradley Calvert of the Community Development Department.

Despite the concessions, several council members said they still have concerns about the impact of short-term rentals on the city.

Councilman Vrej Agajanian said units that could be occupied by long-term residents are being gobbled up as short-term rentals — which shrinks the housing stock and contributes to rising rents.

“Basically, landlords are asking tenants to leave,” Agajanian said. “They can’t stay in those units that they were renting because Airbnb can take it and hand it to somebody else for more money.”

Renting out even portions of single-family homes brings an element of business to what are supposed to be residential-only areas, Councilman Vartan Gharpetian said.

“The quality of life … the sense of having residential neighborhoods, it takes it away,” Gharpetian said, pointing out that a person’s neighbor might change every week or less if they live next to a short-term rental house.

Echoing others, local Airbnb host Amelia Pitti said she didn’t think the way the regulations had been initially crafted would actually solve the problems council members identified.

“A long-term renter can be just as obnoxious as a short-term renter,” Pitti said, presenting an example of how the regulations might be missing the point with regard to nuisance problems.

In July, Los Angeles rolled out its own set of regulations that limit short-term rentals to a person’s primary residence and include a rental cap of 120 days, with some exceptions.

In Glendale, the city code is silent on short-term rentals, according to Yvette Neukian, with the city attorney’s office.

John Choi, a policy manager for Airbnb, in addition to several local hosts, said on Tuesday they welcome some form of regulation of the gig-economy industry in which they’re participating.

On Tuesday, there was minimal pushback on other aspects of Glendale’s proposed regulations, including requiring hosts to obtain a license from the city, report their earnings and pay the same tax hotel operators pay.

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