TENANTS, COMMUNITY LEADERS & LABOR RALLY FOR TOUGHER REGULATION OF AIRBNB AND SHORT-TERM RENTALS TO PROTECT AFFORDABLE HOUSING

On the eve of Airbnb Open, dozens of tenants and housing advocates call on L.A. City Council to pass new legislation cracking down on illegal short-term rentals

Coalition releases new video – “Los Angeles Is NOT For Sale” – and launch digital media campaign highlighting Airbnb’s negative impact on the local housing market

LOS ANGELES – On the heels of major legal and legislative setbacks in Airbnb’s top markets of San Francisco and New York, and on the day before their biggest event of the year – the Airbnb Open in Downtown L.A. – dozens of tenants, community activists and labor leaders rallied in support of tougher regulations to crack down on illegal short-term rentals that deplete affordable housing and increase rents across Los Angeles. The rally will kick off a series of grassroots mobilizations, where tenants and housing advocates will be handing out leaflets throughout the downtown area where the Airbnb Open will be taking place.

To highlight the negative impact of Airbnb on the L.A. housing market, the coalition of housing and community activists rallied outside of the $200 million luxury development called “8th + Hope” that has become a symbol of the city’s affordable housing crisis. Controlled by an out-of-state real estate investment trust, 8th + Hope was one of the first luxury buildings built and sold after the Great Recession. Instead of providing housing for local residents who are facing a vacancy rate of just 2.7% – the lowest of any metropolitan area in the country – the building has become a perfect target for Airbnb, which has already taken over dozens of units with illegal short-term rentals, further diminishing the supply of available housing for local residents.

To coincide with the Airbnb Open, the coalition is launching an aggressive digital media and grassroots mobilization campaign to build support for the passage of new legislation that would significantly expand and strengthen regulations on Airbnb short-term rentals. Featuring a new web video – “Los Angeles Is NOT For Sale” – and a series of digital ads running across all social media channels, the media program will highlight Airbnb’s negative impact on the L.A. housing market, including its role in depleting the city’s already severely limited supply affordable housing and driving up rents in communities across the city. As hosts come to L.A. for the Airbnb Open, they will also be met by a robust campaign of grassroots organizing to put a human face on the effect Airbnb is having on the city.

Maria Elena Durazo, UNITE HERE General Vice President for Immigration, Civil Rights, and Diversity, and former Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO said:
“Airbnb’s glossy propaganda cannot paper over the affordable housing crisis in Los Angeles. Instead of expanding housing opportunities for working people, Airbnb is incentivizing unscrupulous landlords to evict tenants and turn residential buildings into illegal luxury hotels. We are fighting back on multiple fronts because no matter how much money Airbnb spends, our tenants and the neighborhoods they call home are not for sale.”

Becky Dennison, Venice Community Housing Executive Director said:
“From Venice to East L.A. and everywhere in between, short-term rentals are making the affordable housing crisis worse for hardworking Angelenos. As Airbnb is sitting down to drink champagne with celebrities this week, we are standing up against their theft of affordable housing.”

Chanchanit Martorell, Thai Community Development Center Founder and Executive Director said:
“Los Angeles is already facing the worst housing shortage in the country, and the proliferation of short-term rentals on Airbnb is pouring gasoline on the fire. If Airbnb were truly ‘Open,’ it would join us in support of common sense regulations to prevent more evictions and a further erosion of Los Angeles’ already limited stock of affordable housing.”

Cathy Youngblood, Andaz Hotel Workers and Watts Resident said:
“It’s ironic that Airbnb is celebrating their success when our communities are struggling with rising rents and lack of affordable housing. Airbnb’s growth has meant higher profits for landlords, but less housing for local tenants and families. Our message to Airbnb is clear: you can’t buy our communities.”

Carrie Kirshman, evicted tenant said:
“I was thrown out of my home of 21 years so Airbnb and landlords could make a quick profit. They are turning cities like Los Angeles into gated communities where only those at the top and on the inside reap the benefits while the rest of us are shut out. Airbnb says it is ‘Open,’ but its illegal short-term rentals are closing off the city to the people who actually live here.”

A report published by LAANE (Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy) showed that Airbnb has removed over 7,000 housing units from the residential rental market – the equivalent of seven years of affordable housing construction. Additionally, the report found that rent increased 20% higher than the citywide average, in top Airbnb neighborhoods, and that nearly 90% of Airbnb’s revenue came from commercial operators, not local area residents.

In response to Airbnb’s unchecked growth and impact on the housing market, the Los Anegeles City Planning Commission proposed a new ordinance in June 2016 to significantly strengthen the regulation of short-term rentals. The legislation would primarily limit home-shares to only to a host’s primary residence; require hosts to register with the city; ban home-shares in rent-stabilized housing; and prohibit the advertising of illegal home-shares. Arguably some of the strongest provisions of this legislation include platform accountability measures to ensure that Airbnb shares data with the city and polices its site for illegal listings, including requiring Airbnb to prevent and/or remove listings that are in violation of the law. Having passed the Planning Commission, this legislation is expected to go before City Council in early December.

Key Provisions of the Proposed Legislation

• All short-term rentals must be registered with the City

• Only primary residences may be used as a short-term rental, and rentals are capped at no more than 180 days per year.

• Primary residences that are subject to the city’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance are prohibited from being used as short-term rentals.

• Hosts must provide a registration number for each listing that is advertised on a short-term rental site.

• The hosting platform must prevent, remove, or cancel any illegal listings and bookings of short term rentals from their website.

• The hosting platform must provide the city with host data including registration number, addresses, total number of nights a unit was occupied, and the amount paid for each stay, on a monthly basis.

• Hosts who advertise illegal rentals face a $200/day fine, or a fine that is the equivalent of two times the nightly rent charged to the short-term guest per day – whichever is greater, and hosts who break the 120-day limit, will face a fine of $2,000 per day for every day over the limit.

• The hosting platform will face a fine of $500 per day for the posting/advertising of an illegal listing, including listings with no registration number, multiple listings from an individual host, and listings rented for more than 120 days, and the hosting platform will face a fine of $1,000 per day for any refusal to provide the addresses of unregistered hosts or the refusal to submit monthly documents on TOT to the city.

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