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Impact of Short-term Vacation Rentals Discussed by Culver City Officials

Image is a picture of the Airbnb app on a smart phone.Culver City officials and local residents gathered together on September 20 to begin devising a plan to regulate short-term vacation rentals within the Culver City Real Estate area.  The meeting was held in part to address a study by a consumer watchdog group, which showed that short-term vacation rentals could exacerbate shortages of affordable housing in a community.

Martin Feinberg, Realtor, notes that Airbnb WATCH, a consumer group that also promotes affordable housing, released a report in the beginning of September on the effect of short-term vacation rentals in Los Angeles County.  This study showed that lax regulations in L.A. have allowed about 28,000 residential units to be rented to short-term tenants.

This means that roughly 28,000 residential units were removed from the market and not being offered to full-time tenants or sold to families looking for affordable housing.

The report also stated that the number could rise to around 33,000 by 2020 if the L.A. City Council didn’t approve a proposal to regulate short-term vacation rentals, such as those offered by Airbnb and HomeAway.

Likewise, the Culver City Council is also interested in understanding the impact of short-term vacation rentals to the Culver City community.  A growing number of rental investors and homeowners in the city are temporarily renting their properties out for a few nights to a few weeks, and the practice is affecting affordable housing and tax revenue.

When units are being used as short-term vacation rentals they are no longer available to permanent tenants.  In such an environment full-time renters and moderate-income buyers are forced to pay more for a decreasing number of apartments and houses.

Short-term rentals have also been known to cause other problems in communities.  Temporary tenants are more likely to throw loud parties, vandalize neighborhoods, and disregard neighborhood traffic and parking regulations.

While Culver City residents have an interest in the effects of short-term vacation rentals in their neighborhoods, Culver City officials also have cause for concern. Culver City collects millions of dollars each year through its “transient occupancy tax.”  This is a daily tax levied on visitors who stay at the City’s hotels and motels.

Many single-family homeowners and landlords, who are renting their bedrooms or apartments out as short-term vacation rentals, aren’t licensed or paying the city’s occupancy tax. That means that Culver City is losing out on a lot of tax money each year.

According to the City’s website, Culver City staff have been working to secure a voluntary collection agreement (VCA) with Airbnb to help offset the loss of taxes currently being experienced.

Image is of a person holding a phone with the airbnb app open, while standing in a bedroom.The VCA would simplify the process of collecting transient taxes from short-term rental bookings, which would add to City revenues.  This money could then be used for public safety, parks, recreation and community services.

Local listing agent Martin Feinberg acknowledges that such an agreement would not solve all problems related to short-term vacation rentals within Culver City however.  Residents and City Officials would still have much to consider in regards to future regulations.