Residents are emotional about Wednesday’s short-term rental vote

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New Orleans (WGNO) - The heated debate over whether or not short-term rentals should be allowed inside city limits - and if so, how they should be regulated - continues in New Orleans. The City Council is expected to vote on the issue Wednesday morning at 10 a.m.

The two most popular companies involved are Airbnb and VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner). Both services have websites with listings for privately-owned accommodations around the world, including shared housing, apartments and full home rentals. Travelers shop for accommodations and connect with potential hosts via the websites. The properties generally offer guests more space and lower prices than the average hotel, and supporters praise the fact that they offer an experience that allows travelers to "live like a local."

Those against the idea of short-term rentals say they turn residential areas into "hotels with no onsite managers" - and can be damaging to the quality of life for the long-term residents who live next to properties hosting short-term renters.

Lower Garden District resident Brandt Vicknair lives next to a short-term rental that sleeps 24 people.

"They want to stay in these culturally significant areas, but a lot of times they don't leave the house," Vicknair said. "There's beer pong on the front porch, escorts, strippers in the streets, urinating, vomiting. It's the French Quarter in a residential neighborhood."

Vicknair says he has tried to discuss the matter with the landlord responsible for the situation, with no success. He says the person never approached his neighbors about the matter prior to establishing the short-term rental.

But Ed Azemas, who is an Airbnb host for two apartments in the French Quarter (both are two bedroom apartments that sleep four to six people), says that from his experience, renters are genuinely interested in the local culture - and that they do follow the rules. He says he's in favor of short-term rentals becoming legal - and hosts paying taxes - money he says could be used to help fund better roads and more police officers.

"We want to be legal," Azemas said. "People come here to the city. They don't come to destroy a neighborhood or do anything bad. They just come to be a part of it. I took an apartment that long-term people came in and saw flaws in and short terms come in and see a beautiful thing. They love it," he says.

One of his apartments has small windows with no view. Azemas says he tried to find a long-term renter and even lowered the price -- but eventually turned to Airbnb at the suggestion of a friend. Now he says he's having no problem paying the bills.  He says his second apartment was shunned by long-term renters, despite its prime French Quarter location, because it has no washer and dryer. But like the other one, it gets top reviews from Airbnb renters.

Wednesday morning's vote was originally set for October 6th, but was postponed.




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