The City Council could strengthen Santa Monica’s home-sharing ordinance after a five-bedroom home was converted to an Airbnb housing up to 36 people.
Councilmember Ted Winterer has asked city staff to tighten the part of the ordinance that requires home-share hosts to be permanent residents. He has also proposed limiting the number of home shares that a property owner can operate in the city and how many guests can stay in one room or dwelling.
Council will consider Winterer’s request at its Tuesday meeting and if approved, staff will come back with a detailed proposal at a future meeting.
“Any time there’s a disruptive technology, whether it’s Airbnb or scooters or Uber and Lyft, it’s always going to take local governments time to develop policies and laws that address those new technologies,” Winterer said. “We took some initial stabs at regulating Airbnb, but we learned from experience that … there are some loopholes in the original ordinance.”
The city of Santa Monica passed its home-sharing ordinance in 2015. The law is meant to prevent permanent housing from being converted to vacation rentals and allows residents to host guests in their home for 30 days or less while living on-site throughout the guests’ stay. It does not set a limit on the number of guests allowed, however.
The local rules recently withstood a legal challenge from Airbnb and Homeaway.com.
The Daily Press reported last month that a landmarked home at 710 Adelaide Place has been listed on Airbnb since March, when it was sold for about $2.9 million, according to the Multiple Listing Service. The host, Ryusei “Ryan” Shimizu, is still listing the home online.
Neighbors say the home, a 1924 Pueblo Revival home known as the Zuni House, is being operated as a de facto hostel and disturbing nearby residents.
“There are people coming and going at all hours of the day and night, scooters blocking the sidewalk and cigarette butts and beer cans left on the street and sidewalk,” said George Preonas, who lives down the street.
It is unclear whether Shimizu is violating any provisions of the home-sharing ordinance as written.
He has an active business license registered to 710 Adelaide Place and states on the property’s Airbnb listing that he is present in the home during guests’ stays.
But he has also hosted another home in Santa Monica at 2002 20th Street through Airbnb, where he stated he is present while hosting guests. The business license at that address is registered to Chisato Tanabe.
The Adelaide Place and 20th Street properties are also listed on another website, relaxtay.com. The website also lists several apartments in Los Angeles as short-term rentals.
Neighbors of 710 Adelaide Place say the owners of the property live in Texas. The house rents for $16,000 a month, according to the Multiple Listing Service.
City spokesperson Constance Farrell said the city approved a home-sharing application for 710 Adelaide Place that indicated the property could host a maximum of 16 overnight guests. The Code Enforcement Division is investigating multiple complaints that neighbors have made regarding the use of the property, she said.
Winterer said that the home-sharing ordinance is designed to allow residents to earn extra income by hosting travelers in their homes without disrupting neighborhood character.
“We want to provide these opportunities for our residents, but not at the expense of neighborhood peace and quiet,” he said. “I think our legal staff is prepared to come back to the council with some changes to the ordinance.”
The city of Los Angeles’ home-sharing ordinance, which the City Council adopted last December, only allows hosts to book one listing at a time. Preonas said that provision alone would prevent hosts like Shimizu from hosting dozens of people in one house.
“If you can only book one listing at a time, you won’t have 36 people sleeping in bunk beds,” Preonas said.