NEW ORLEANS -- The New Orleans City Council Chamber was nearly at capacity on Tuesday evening as the City Planning Commission opened a public hearing on short term rentals, or STRs.
The rentals have become popular ways for property owners to make money on their vacant rental property or even unused bedrooms in their homes. Mobile apps like Airbnb and HomeAway are like the Uber and Lyft of the vacation rental business, allowing people to rent a place to stay at what is often far below hotel rates.
In New Orleans, the city estimates there are between 2,400-4,000 listings. 70% are whole unit rentals, generally houses or condos.
But critics of the STRs say that the push to rent to tourists is reducing the number of affordable rental homes for people who live in the city. Mitch Landrieu was the first of the city's mayors to begin to look at the creation of regulations for the STRs. The city came up with a list of regulations that went into effect on April 1, 2017.
Now, Mayor LaToya Cantrell and current city council members are hoping to review and finalize a subsequent plan.
After months of study, the City Planning Commission released a 150 page report on the rentals, including suggestions for regulating them. Tuesday evening, a crowd at the commission's public hearing commented on virtually every part of the plan.
The commission's plan calls for a current ban on much of the French Quarter to be lifted. Tuesday, some property owners in the Quarter said that the money they'd make from STRs would help them maintain their homes. But others said they dread having different neighbors on a weekly if not daily basis.
"The Quarter already gets ten million visitors a year. For every resident there are at least 2,500 tourists," the VCPORA's Meg Lousteau told WGNO. "We don`t need to convert any more space in the order to accommodate tourists. What we need to do is continue The band which has already resulted in hundreds of housing units returning to the market, and we`re going to have neighbors moving back into the neighborhood."
There's also a debate over whether property owners must be on the premises, which would ban out-of-town landlords from using STRs. And while some people want to have the rentals also banned in the Garden District, other property owners urge the city to have uniform standards for every neighborhood.
The City Planning Commission has until October 5 to make any additional changes to the plan and present it to the council.