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Santa Monica Wants to Ban All Full-Unit Airbnbs

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Touristy Santa Monica is one of Los Angeles's most lucrative areas for Airbnb, but it could be seeing its numbers drop very soon if a proposed new set of rules for short-term rentals takes effect in the city. The new guidelines would allow only "home-sharing" rentals, meaning that "hosts" would have to be living in the unit while guests were there (as is the case when people rent out a room or guesthouse or couch), says the LA Times. That alone would cut Santa Monica listings on major short-term rental sites from 1,700 to 300.

The new guidelines "explicitly prohibit" rentals where the owner or main occupant is not splitting the unit with guests, meaning no more professional landlords renting out entire units. A recent study found a rash of professional landlords on Airbnb; the site skirts regulations against short-term rentals with the claim that its "hosts" are just renting out their extra space, not creating new hotel units, but in Los Angeles at least, that's not at all true. (After the study came out, Airbnb kicked a handful of big LA landlords off the service, but made no similar move in other cities.)

Furthermore, the rules would only allow home-sharing rentals if the landlord gets a Santa Monica business license and agrees to pay the city's 14 percent hotel tax. But the most contentious part of the new plan is that it would require short-term rental sites to tell the city who is hosting, where they're hosting, and how much they're charging. Airbnb says that this would compromise hosts' privacy, but it's probably necessary to make sure that they're complying with the potential regulations.

Airbnb has had a lot of prominent trouble in the Los Angeles area lately in the wake of that report, which found the site is being used to take rental housing off the market and to turn units into full-time, unofficial hotels—something that's especially troubling given LA's already completely unaffordable rental market.

Santa Monica officials will hear the new rental rules this week and could vote on them next month. If adopted, SaMo would join Malibu in regulating Airbnb; that city recently started collecting taxes on short-term rentals, which it allows with some restrictions. West Hollywood voted this year to double down on its ban on short-term rentals. While the city of LA hasn't made any official steps to regulate vacation rentals yet, Mayor Eric Garcetti has suggested using taxes from the rentals to fund affordable housing.
· Santa Monica considering tough new restrictions on short-term rentals [LAT]
· The Nine Neighborhoods That Make All the Airbnb Money in LA [Curbed LA]
· Meet LA's Most Prolific Airbnb Host, With 78 Units For Rent [Curbed LA]
· Can Airbnb Survive in LA Without Big Professional Landlords? [Curbed LA]