Editor’s note: This letter was submitted to the City Council as part of the debate over regulating short-term rentals.

The Short Term Rental Advocacy Center (STRAC), a coalition made up of short-term rental companies, owners/hosts and others who support short-term rentals, writes today to urge the Santa Monica City Council to reconsider the proposed ordinance to govern short-term rentals within the city.

Short-term rental technology companies have created a vibrant marketplace for travelers and property owners, expanding the travel landscape by offering alternative accommodations and providing economic benefits to communities around the world. We believe the Santa Monica City Council should more broadly consider public policy that would formalize and legalize all short-term rentals in the city, allowing both travelers and residents the ability to benefit from the fantastic travel and economic opportunities that short-term rentals provide.

STRAC supports formal regulations that legalize short-term rentals, and in addition believes that owners, property managers or hosts should be required to register their property with the city and pay the applicable local taxes. However, regulations and requirements for registration and taxation must be reasonable, affordable and easy to comply with, so that those interested in renting their property can easily understand and comply with the regulations. Expensive, onerous and complicated registration and taxation schemes, including those that differentiate between the types of short-term rental properties permitted, will only be a deterrent to compliance. Making the process easy and reasonable will result in greater accountability and compliance by owners/operators and hosts, leading to greater benefits for both travelers and residents.

At the heart of successful short-term rental regulation is an equal playing field that does not discriminate between the renting of a primary residence or owner-occupied/hosted residence and a secondary residence. It is imperative that cities adopt sensible regulations that apply to all short-term rentals equally, so that travelers, owners, hosts and property managers, the city and the surrounding communities can all benefit from the great economic opportunity that short term rentals offer. Subsequently, travelers seeking alternative accommodations to the traditional hotel model should see Santa Monica as a viable travel destination that is willing to offer travelers and their families, choices when it comes to accommodations.

To date the Santa Monica community has been, and continues to derive a very real economic benefit from the presence of short-term rentals and the travelers who occupy them. Quite simply, it is the difference between living like a local or just visiting. Travelers rely on short-term rentals for various reasons, including the need to accommodate larger families that would otherwise require multiple hotel rooms, travelers with special needs or special needs children, or simply a desire for more lengthy affordable stays. Regardless of the reason travelers chose short-term rentals, numerous studies have shown that those in short-term rentals stay longer and spend more money during their travel versus hotel stays. Municipalities should embrace this opportunity rather than stifle it.

We encourage the Santa Monica City Council to work toward developing sensible short-term rental regulations that can be easily complied with by renters and operators. If regulations are enacted in this regard, the city and surrounding communities have much to gain. Should Santa Monica fail to address short-term rentals in a reasonable and thoughtful way, or seek to enact regulations that hamper the widely recognized advantages of short-term rentals to all involved, it would represent a missed opportunity to benefit from and strengthen the travel and tourism industry of the city in the future.

Matthew Kiessling is executive director of the Short Term Rental Advocacy Center.

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