Dozens of Airbnb users gathered on the lawn of City Hall to protest the second reading of an ordinance that promises to crack down on short-term rentals in the city.
Numerous reporters showed up to council’s meeting to watch City Council adopt the ordinance in less than a minute without any discussion; a first reading of the ordinance passed unanimously last week after more than an hour of public comment and debate. Second readings are almost always approved and are largely procedural.
The ordinance, which was the brainchild of Unite Here, Local 11, a hospitality union, and Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights, the city’s largest political party. The organizations tend to work hand in hand during election campaigns but they split over several candidates in November.
It reinforces the fact that short-term rentals are illegal, as they have been, in the city but adds three new workers to City Hall’s enforcement team. It legalizes home-sharing, which was previously illegal, but requires those who wish to do it to get business licenses, pay transient occupancy taxes, and notify city officials when tenants will be sharing their homes.
Landlords have long complained that the City Hall has done little to crackdown on the hundreds of illegally operating units within the city.
The ordinance will go into effect next month.
On Tuesday, on top of approving a Zoning Ordinance that includes the allowance of two medical marijuana dispensaries and askig city officials to study ways to reduce the impacts of emissions at the Santa Monica Airport, both of which the Daily Press has covered previously, council handed two residential properties over to Community Corporation of Santa Monica (CCSM), the city’s largest affordable housing provider.
Council voted unanimously to have the city manager execute an agreement with the housing provider that ensures that the Ocean Avenue properties, which are currently occupied by rent controlled tenants, would not remain affordable housing. The current tenants won’t be ousted. When they decide to leave, the tenants will be replaced with low-income renters.
“People live here,” Mayor Kevin McKeown said. “This is the home for some people currently and it is always been the policy of our city that we protect the residents who already live some place.”
If after 80 years, CCSM decides it wants to get out of the affordable housing game, City Hall would be allowed to purchase the units back for one dollar apiece.
“I’m not a big fan of actually selling city land,” Mayor Pro Tempore Tony Vazques said, “but in light of what’s happening with the housing dollars I will be supporting this motion.”
With the dissolution of the Redevelopment Agency, resources for the production of affordable housing have run dry in recent years.
Council also voted unanimously to sell a vacant lot on 19th Street. The money from that sale will be put back into an account that will support the production of future affordable housing. The lot is zoned to allow developers to build four units, if they so choose.
City officials will first try to sell the land to a public entity before offering it up to the general market.