New Orleans City Council votes to prohibit new short-term rental licenses for nine months

(From Airbnb/CNN)

NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans City Council voted Thursday to ban new short-term rental licenses for nine months while the city’s planning commission conducts a broader study of the industry’s effects on neighborhoods.

The council unanimously approved the legislation, which was broken down into three motions:

  1. Establishing a nine-month Interim Zoning District prohibiting issuance of new and renewal temporary licenses in the Historic Core, Historic Urban, CBD, Mixed Use -1 and 2 zoning districts. Most of Gentilly, Lakeview, New Orleans East and the suburban parts of Algiers are excluded from the Interim Zoning District
  2. No longer prohibits issuing new commercial STRs except on the first floor of a multi-story building allowing for residential uses
  3. Directing the City Planning Commission (CPC), which issues STR licenses, to conduct a broader study of the program within 120 days

“I applaud the individual New Orleanians, neighborhood associations, and business owners who participated in today’s Council’s meeting to voice their concerns,” said District C Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer, who authored the legislation.  “We have said from the beginning that this was going to be a process that involved those impacted, and today was a great example of that. This legislation is a first step towards revising and improving the STR regulations to restore and preserve the residential fabric in historic areas of the city, many of which I represent such as the Marigny, Bywater, Treme, and Old Algiers.”

In addition, the CPC must expand the scope of the current study to include local data on STRs, regulations in other cities, and possible updates to the Council’s new regulations. The CPC is required to hold a public hearing within the next 60 days or by the July 23rd deadline and release their study’s findings 60 days thereafter due September 21st.

Airbnb, one of the most prominent short-term rental companies, released the following statement in response to the council’s decision:

“It is disappointing the city council chose to punish many law-abiding New Orleans residents who depend on home sharing to support their families,” said Laura Spanjian, Airbnb Public Policy Director. “We have worked closely with the City for more than two years to develop and implement fair rules, which provide the City data and tools to enforce the law and millions in tax revenue, and today’s vote flies in the face of the collaborative spirit with which we’ve approached our work with the City.”

Council President Jason Williams said what began as a way for locals to share their properties has evolved into “corporations buying up houses and apartment units and turning them into hotels.”

“These national and sometimes international corporations are artificially driving up the cost to buy a home or rent a home in our city,” he continued. “That is patently unfair to people of New Orleans. I have a serious problem with that. There was not effective enforcement from the previous administration or voluntary compliance on the part of these companies and platforms. This study will look at all of this and more so that we can take next steps to protect our city.”