The Long Beach City Council is considering an ordinance to regulate short-term rental units within the city during its December 4 meeting.

A short-term rental (STR) is defined by the City of Long Beach as “a property that is typically furnished and rented for a short-term stay.” Listings of these units are available on online platforms such as Airbnb and HomeAway.

On its website, Long Beach Development Services (LBDS) notes that STRs benefit the local economy via increased tourism activity and business revenues, but may also present challenges in the form of increased traffic and decreased parking availability. According to an October assessment by LBDS, there are 1,328 active STRs in the city, representing about 0.75% of Long Beach’s housing stock.

Airbnb estimates that Long Beach residents have been hosting Airbnb guests “for nearly a decade.” In a 2017 economic impact report, the company stated that, from January 2017 to January 2018, Long Beach Airbnbs hosted 70,000 guests for an average of 3.8 nights each. The local estimated economic impact of these visits amounted to $42 million spent by guests, according to Airbnb.

Last year, the city council called for a review of the regulation of STRs, which would require an update to Long Beach zoning regulations. A new ordinance would implement safety and operational guidelines for STRs as well as a transient occupancy tax (TOT) to generate revenues for the city.

Currently, regulations on long-term rentals of residential units exist under the Long Beach Municipal Code, but not short-term rentals. In a 2017 memorandum to the city council, City Manager Pat West noted that, “If a use is not called out or specified in the zoning code, the use/activity is prohibited by default.”

After a period of community outreach, in which the city provided opportunities for the public to give input, three options for an STR ordinance were presented for review on October 10.

Three Ordinance Options

The three options outlined regulations and prohibitions for both hosted and un-hosted STRs. As defined by LBDS, “hosted STRs” refer to units in which the host is present on site during the short-term rental activity. “Un-hosted STRs” refer to units in which the host is not present while the short-term rental activity is occurring.

All three options would require hosts to do the following:

  • Register their STRs with the city
  • Provide a local 24-hour contact and a 24-hour hotline to resolve issues and complaints
  • Pay the city a 12% Transit Occupancy Tax

STRs in income-restricted units and student housing would be prohibited.

In general, the first option provides the lowest level of regulation. The second option includes additional regulations to address community concerns, such as limiting the number of STRs per host and establishing maximum occupancy for STRs. The third option is the same as the second, with an additional provision that allows neighborhoods to prohibit un-hosted STRs within their boundaries.

More specifically, options two and three set limits regarding:

  • How many STRs residents can operate
  • How long guests can stay in un-hosted STRs (90 nights for a rental that is a primary residence and no limit for a non-primary residence)
  • Requiring that hosts establish residency for 60 days before registering their property as an STR
  • Quiet hours
  • How many occupants are allowed per bedroom, with a maximum limit of 10 per unit

When reached for comment on the proposed regulation, Airbnb Public Policy Manager John Choi said, “We support reasonable regulations such as a 24-hour, on-site contact requirement and a streamlined permitting process for our hosts, but we strongly urge the council to avoid policies that would pit neighbors against neighbors. We look forward to working with the community and lawmakers to enact regulations that are fair, affordable and streamlined.”

City staff are refining the three STR options presented at the October workshop before presenting them to the city council on December 4.