Los Angeles, CA – November 29, 2023
In a landmark decision, the “Los Angeles City Council” on Tuesday voted “14 to 0” in favor of a new ordinance mandating police permits for hosts of short-term rentals, including Airbnb operators, and hotels. City Council President Paul Krekorian, a vocal supporter of the proposal, believes that this permit requirement will be instrumental in curbing issues related to party houses and properties that attract illicit behavior.
The primary objective of the law is to establish a regulatory hurdle for short-term rental and hotel operators, providing the City Council and local neighborhoods with the means to challenge permit issuance. The move aims to enhance community safety and create a mechanism for addressing concerns related to the operation of such establishments.
The approval of the law comes after weeks of deliberation and discussions within the City Council. Notably, Councilmember Kevin de León was absent during the voting process.
Several business sectors in Los Angeles, including car valet operators, antique stores, and bowling alleys, are already required to obtain police permits for operation. Many of these permits involve criminal background checks, with initial fees reaching hundreds of dollars.
During a council committee hearing last week, numerous Airbnb hosts expressed concern about the proposed police permit requirement. Some argued that the need for a police permit, coupled with fingerprinting as part of a criminal background check, was excessive. Additionally, questions were raised about the financial implications of obtaining the permits.
“I just ask that you not buckle us in with doing extra hoops to jump through and extra police checks and extra fees,” urged Kevin Stevens, a homeowner in North Hollywood.
Peter Hillan, a spokesperson for the Hotel Association of Los Angeles, expressed uncertainty about how many of the association’s 600 members currently hold police permits. He also raised concerns about whether the Los Angeles Police Department has the necessary staffing to oversee the additional permits.
The LAPD recently proposed initial fees of $260 for short-term rental operators, though Krekorian emphasized that these fees are not finalized. He expressed hope that the background check process could be streamlined without requiring fingerprinting.
“My goal is to make [obtaining a police permit] as easy and painless and nearly automatic as I can,” said Krekorian. “The idea will be that if someone applies for it, unless there’s some complaint from someone, that it would be routinely granted.”
The approximately 6,725 short-term rental units listed with the city, according to the Planning Department, will now be subject to the new police permit requirement. The move is part of a broader regulatory package targeting new hotels, striking a compromise between the city and the hotel workers union. The union initially sought a ballot measure vote related to hotel rooms and housing for homeless residents.
Under the approved ordinance, new hotels will undergo a more extensive approval process, and developers will be obligated to replace any housing demolished for their projects by building new residential units or renovating existing ones.
Kurt Petersen, co-president of Unite Here Local 11, representing thousands of hotel workers, sees the police permit requirement as a step toward ending “illegal short-term rentals,” which he believes exacerbate the homelessness crisis. KaroTorossian, Krekorian’s chief of staff, highlighted that the issue of police permits arose during talks with the hotel union and the hotel industry.
As Los Angeles takes this significant step toward regulating short-term rentals and hotels, the implications for the city’s housing landscape and hospitality industry remain in focus. The move reflects a commitment to community well-being and safety in the face of evolving challenges posed by the sharing economy.