The Los Angeles City Council recently took a significant step by advancing an ordinance that would introduce a requirement for police permits for both hotels and Airbnb rentals. This move has drawn criticism from hotel owners, who argue that it is a politically motivated decision. In return for the ordinance, the Unite Here union opted to withdraw an initiative set for the March ballot. The dropped initiative had aimed to mandate hotels to provide vacant rooms for housing homeless residents.
The proposed ordinance is designed to enforce background checks and inspections for both traditional hotels and Airbnb units. Proponents assert that this measure will provide authorities with the necessary tools to regulate and address issues related to problematic operators causing disturbances such as party houses. Los Angeles City Council President Paul Krekorian emphasized the importance of having additional tools to deal with operators who create nuisances for neighborhoods.
However, hotel owners, particularly from smaller establishments, have expressed reservations about the ordinance. They question the logic of amalgamating the hotel and Airbnb industries under a single ordinance. Ray Patel, representing Northeast Los Angeles Hotel Owners, voices concerns about the lack of sense in combining the two industries within the same regulatory framework.
During the City Council meeting, LAPD officials provided insight into the potential impact of the proposed ordinance on their workload. They estimated that issuing permits would take approximately 30 days and projected a substantial increase in their workload. An LAPD officer highlighted that the annual permit issuance, which currently stands at 4,000 to 5,000 permits, could almost triple under the new program, reaching around 9,000 to 9,400 permits if fully compliant.
Airbnb has chosen not to comment on the proposed ordinance. Hotel owners, especially those operating smaller establishments, have raised questions about the qualification criteria for the permits. They are particularly concerned about provisions that could result in the automatic loss of permits if a hotel employs someone with a certain type of conviction or other specified issues.
The Los Angeles City Council is set to conduct a second vote on Friday to finalize the approval of the ordinance. If the ordinance receives approval, it is slated to go into effect in July, marking a significant development in the regulatory landscape for both traditional hotels and short-term rental properties facilitated by platforms like Airbnb.