By Dan Jamieson
Even though HB has more than 800 short-term rental units (such as typically offered through Airbnb and other services), owners of the properties are in the awkward position of breaking the law.
That’s because short-term rentals (STRs) are not allowed in the city.
But the HB City Council looks like it will seriously consider legalizing and regulating short-term rentals.
At a September 4, 2019 study session, Council members seemed willing to move forward after hearing from residents who said they rely on rental income to pay bills and remain in the city.
And notably, the city’s hotel industry appears willing to accept the change. Kelly Miller, head of Visit HB, which represents hotels and other tourist businesses, told the Council that handling short-term rentals was a “tough issue” but that Visit HB would support what the Council comes up with.
Legalizing and taxing short-term rentals would generate between $450,000 and $800,000 in bed taxes yearly for the city, according to consultant Lisa Wise’s estimates given at the study session, although that doesn’t include costs of regulating rentals. Still, Ursula Luna-Reynosa, HB director of community development, said that the four cities HB analyzed that have legalized STRs (Carlsbad, Carpinteria, Newport Beach, Pismo Beach) all found that legal STRs were revenue-positive.
A big issue for HB may be whether to allow non-hosted rentals (renting from an absentee landlord). Council members Erik Peterson, Jill Hardy and Lyn Semeta had reservations about allowing non-hosted rentals, while Kim Carr favors the idea.
Council members were also concerned about STRs’ potential effects on home prices and housing stock, and how to handle multiple-unit properties like apartments.
Kathryn Levassiur, who leads the HB Short-term Rental Alliance, a group of STR hosts, tells Huntington Beach Tomorrow that her group wants all existing STRs grandfathered, with bed tax-collection done through Airbnb.
Operators of STRs can be required to give contact information to abutting neighbors, have quiet hours and for unhosted rentals, install noise monitors, Levassiur said.