City Council Due to Consider Banning Short-Term Rentals

The La Cañada Flintridge City Council is slated to consider in the coming month a recommendation to locally ban short-term rentals and the advertising of such rentals.
On Jan. 23, the city Planning Commission advocated forbidding the vacation rentals made popular by platforms such as Airbnb and VRBO platforms.
Council is expected to consider a proposed ordinance on the matter in February. “The first reading will be scheduled for Feb. 18, the second reading will likely be March 17, with the ordinance effective 30 days after the second reading and adoption,” Susan Koleda, LCF director of community development, wrote in an email to The Outlook.
Short-term rentals have become a popular alternative to hotels, with some homeowners renting out abodes, or a portion of them, on websites.
Under the proposed ordinance, a city statement said, a short-term vacation rental is defined as “a dwelling unit or portion of a dwelling unit as defined by the city’s zoning code that is rented for dwelling, lodging, or sleeping purposes by the owner of another party for a period of less than 28 consecutive days in exchange for any form of monetary or non-monetary consideration, such as, but not limited to, trade, fee swap, or any other in-lieu of cash payments.”
During the commission meeting, the number of consecutive days was updated to 30 to keep the proposed ordinance in line with an emergency accessory dwelling unit ordinance the City Council recently passed.
The term “short-term vacation rental” does not include the terms “rooming and boarding houses” or “bed and breakfast,” according to the statement.
Koleda said there are two sections in the municipal code for administering fines for violators. They each can range up to $1,000, depending on how many violations occur during a certain period of time, and “can be punitive when cumulative,” she said.
According to the city statement, LCF has experienced several complaints about the use of short-term vacation rentals for parties in the area.
A house on Gould Avenue where a large pool party was held last June 15 was “the most obvious complaint,” Koleda said in an email. Another home, on Ivafern Lane, generated numerous complaints to city staff members, she added.
Resident David Haxton, who asked during the commission meeting about fines for violators, suggested banning advertising, which he said was mentioned in a 2016 report about vacation rentals.
“For practicality, I think you need to prohibit the advertising, because then the city can actually look at the online places that do the advertising and you can tell people, ‘No, you can’t do that because of this ordinance and you’re going to stop it,’” Haxton said.
Commissioner Jeffrey McConnell said he believed the City Council wanted to go in the direction of banning advertising and said he wanted to include the banning of advertising on platforms on “all of the platforms” about short-term vacation rentals.
He said there were multiple companies that “scrape the internet” to see who is posting rentals in a geographic area and send reports out based on that information.
McConnell said the ordinance might help the city to discover whether platforms and property owners were listing properties here and to thwart them.
In response to a question, Assistant City Attorney Elena Gerli said she did not think commercial speech advertising an illegal activity was protected by the First Amendment. Shortly after that, the Planning Commission voted to recommend an ordinance.
The commission also will have a series of zoning code update meetings starting at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 1. The meetings are open to the public. To view the schedule, visit cityoflcf.org/zoningupdate.

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