Airbnb hosts in Santa Monica will be prohibited from renting to more than two groups of guests at a time and allowing more than two people to stay in each room.
The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to tighten Santa Monica’s home-sharing ordinance after a five-bedroom, landmarked home at 710 Adelaide Place was converted to an Airbnb housing up to 36 people earlier this year. The 2015 ordinance is meant to prevent permanent housing from being converted to vacation rentals while allowing residents to earn some extra income by hosting guests in their home for 30 days or less while living on-site.
It did not include a limit on the number of guests, however, allowing some Airbnb hosts to turn homes into de facto hostels.
The rules adopted Tuesday night will prohibit hosts from accepting more than two bookings at a time and from acting as the host for more than one home-share.
Only two people, excluding children, may stay in one bedroom, and no more than 10 people may stay in one dwelling, which is consistent with state building and fire codes. Visitors may only bring one vehicle per bedroom, or, if the home-share is in a preferential parking zone, no more than two vehicles total.
Hosts must be people, not companies, and only rent rooms in their primary residence that they have lived in for at least one year. Hosts were previously required to provide one proof of primary residency and now must submit at least two.
They must also provide proof of insurance of $500,000, comply with the city’s noise limits and maintain fire extinguishers, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
Hosts will be required to pay a $100 permit application fee and renew their application annually at a cost of $50. The fees will cover the costs of reviewing the applications and enforcing violations, according to city staff’s report on the ordinance.
City staff originally recommended prohibiting hosts from renting to more than one group at a time, but Councilmember Sue Himmelrich extended the limit to two after Airbnb host June Stoddard told the council that she rents out two rooms on Airbnb so she can afford to stay in her Ocean Park home, which she has lived in for 30 years.
“I’m exactly who your home-sharing law helps and protects,” Stoddard said. “If you only allow me to rent to one group, you’ll cut my income in half.”
Councilmember Ted Winterer suggested strengthening the home-sharing ordinance last month with the intention of preventing commercial operations like 710 Adelaide Place.
“We took some initial stabs at regulating Airbnb, but we learned from experience that … there are some loopholes in the original ordinance,” Winterer told the Daily Press in August.
The Daily Press reported in July that the landmarked home known at the Zuni House 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 is being operated as a hostel and disturbing the neighborhood.
“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.
Shimizu has an active business license registered to 710 Adelaide Place and the city approved his home-sharing application, said city spokesperson Constance Farrell.
He states on the property’s Airbnb listing that he is present in the home during guests’ stays, but he also makes the same claim on another listing for a home at 2002 20th Street. 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.
Mayor Gleam Davis said the updates to the home-sharing ordinance strike a balance between limiting commercial home-sharing and allowing residents to continue supplementing their income by hosting guests in their homes. Unlike the Los Angeles City Council, the council did not decide to cap how many days per year hosts can rent out rooms.
“We need to be sensitive to the fact that Santa Monica has become more expensive to live in, and renting out an extra room on a permanent or frequent basis allows them to stay in their home,” Davis said.