WeHo Planning Commission Opposes Ban on Corporate Short-Term Rentals

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story based on a report from the city Community Development Department to the Planning Commission erroneously stated that Planning Commissioner Sheila Lightfoot opposed a ban on short-term apartment rentals by corporations. In fact Lightfoot supported such a ban, and the story has been corrected to reflect that.

While the City of West Hollywood has banned short-term apartment rentals by individuals through services such as Airbnb, the Planning Commission is asking that it permit such rentals by corporations.

The Planning Commission has on its Thursday agenda a proposal to communicate to the West Hollywood City Council its opposition to a proposed ban against corporate short-term rentals. The proposed ban was initiated last year by Councilmember John Heilman and passed in a 3-to-2 vote. Councilmembers John D’Amico and John Duran opposed it.

At its Oct. 20 meeting, commissioners discussed the City Council’s proposal to clarify the ban on short-term rentals by specifying that it includes renting to corporations who use the apartments for employees who are visiting or on temporary assignment in Los Angeles. The owner of at least one WeHo apartment building — the Dylan at 7111 Santa Monica Blvd. at La Brea — has been warned by the city that it was violating the short-term rental ban by letting companies rent apartments for visiting employees.

Airbnb for Business logo
Airbnb for Business logo

At the Oct. 20 meeting, all of the planning commissioners but one opposed banning short-term corporate rentals, arguing that such a ban would discourage company employees from both living and working in West Hollywood and that there is no evidence that short-term corporate rentals are a problem.  Commissioner Sheila Lightfoot supported the proposed ban.

Like many cities across the country, West Hollywood has tried to stop or restrict short-term rentals of local housing, arguing that they give landlords an incentive to take housing units for long-term tenants off the market and compete unfairly with hotels. An apartment that might rent for $1,800 a month could produce three times that revenue if rented to tourists. That is a major issue in West Hollywood given the city’s high rents and shortage of available housing. In July last year the City Council amended its zoning ordinance to clarify that such short-term rentals are illegal.

So-called “shared economy” services such as Airbnb typically have focused on vacation rentals. However Airbnb has begun to focus on corporate short-term rentals with Airbnb for Business. That service works like a hotel booking site, letting a company’s employees book a room in a house or condo or apartment through Airbnb and bill it directly to his or her employer.

The Planning Commission will meet at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday at the City Council Chambers, 625 N. San Vicente Blvd. south of Santa Monica.


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Kaycee
Guest
Kaycee

I lived in a building that had illegal short term rentals going on, both vacation and corporate. There was absolutely no difference between them as far as the disruption to the other tenants and neighbors. They were not making a permanent home here, the landlord did not live on site, they had no local accountability, so they did not care. Sometimes there would be 4-6 of them in a 2 bedroom apartment. In our small building, this was a huge problem. Blasting music and slamming doors at all hours, trash and food left in common areas, smoking in prohibited places,… Read more »

Richard K.
Guest
Richard K.

How will the City know whether a ‘corporate’ weekender or a ‘private’ weekender has rented a house or condo for a short term rental? If the property owner says it’s a work associate or an employee how will the City suss this out? The City is struggling to enforce the current ban as it is.

What would the difference be to neighbors living next door that have to listen to partying until the early hours of morning whether it’s from ‘corporate’ or ‘private’ guests?

Keep the current code as it is, 31 day minimum rental, corporate or private.

Bill G Skywatcher
Guest

There should be no distinction between whether a short-term rental is made by a corporation or an individual. If short-term rentals deplete the housing stock, then they do so regardless of who is doing the renting. I don’t think in the entirety that I’ve lived in West Hollywood that I thought the Planning Commission was working on behalf of the residents and not the developers. It’s a disgrace. The Planning Commission of West Hollywood won’t be happy until a single goes for $5000 and every was built in the last three years. Every single commissioner needs to be replaced, they… Read more »

Rudolf Martin
Guest
Rudolf Martin

Of course they rolled their eyes if she questioned their otherwise unanimous idea of allowing corporations to get into the business of short term rentals that “people” are banned from.

This is outrageous and any serious candidate for city council should be asked if they would appoint (or remove) a commissioner who supports such policies.

Rick Watts
Guest
Rick Watts

The Planning Commission proposal is nothing but a loophole through which all manner of ILLEGAL “entrepreneur hosts” will deftly exploit by operating through all manner of corporate shells. WeHo Needs to get serious in dealing with these scofflaws by (a) RIGOROUS enforcement and (b) raising the fines SO high that violating this intrusion on neighbors, violation of zoning codes, and theft of tax dollars makes it cost-prohibitive and no longer a mere “cost of doing business.

Follow Miami Beach’s example:

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/biz-monday/article117332773.html

Steve Martiin
Guest
Steve Martiin

“Corporate Housing” is effectively Air BnB for well heeled corporations; allowing this sort of temporary corporate housing brings no benefits to the community and artificially inflates rents. I was at the Planning Commission and Lauren Meister’s commissioner Sheila Lightfoot was the only commissioner to vote in favor of the ban of corporate housing. Apparently the Staff report incorrectly reported the vote; Lightfoot’s comments on the issue were hard to miss.

fine7760
Guest

Steve Martin, Sheila Lightfoot is still way over her head as a Planning Commission member. Instead of studying what is scheduled on the agenda it seems she questions facts that have already been deliberated on and agreed upon in the past instead of the issue at hand. On more than one occasion I have witnessed other commissioners roll their eyes as Ms. Lightfoot continues on with her uninsightful questions and statements.

Duff Bennett
Guest
Duff Bennett

Well said Rudolf Martin, my hope is our elected and appointed City Officials would have the residents best interest in mind, unfortunately some put their own interest first. It is becoming all to common in Politics, unfortunately.

Rudolf Martin
Guest
Rudolf Martin

So we’ll allow corporations to do the exact same thing that we banned private citizens from doing? Who needs Republicans in this town where we have the WeHo Planning Commission?

There are good arguments for and against a ban on short term rentals (personally I think it’s too blunt an instrument and unenforceable) but discriminating in favor of corporations, especially when the only motivation is fear of losing out on revenue would be the height of cynicism.

Who are we?

fine7760
Guest

Perhaps the answer is to restrict airbnb to new buildings and require a permit to engage in that type of business. In addition, if a building has reached it’s rental capacity the few units used as airbnb must be converted to conventional rentals.

Jerome Cleary
Guest

Just lower the rents and be more competitive to get great long term tenants.

Alison
Guest
Alison

They let them build those hulking buildings at Santa Monica and La Brea and La Brea and Fountain and now they can’t rent them out. Of course they want to let short term rentals there. The Developers will never get their money out of those buildings any other way. Next up is Movietown Plaza.