Opinion: The City Council Should Enable Home-Sharing for Everyone, Not Just the Wealthy

The City of West Hollywood has always been known for championing new ideas and adopting progressive policies that support all residents, especially those who have traditionally been marginalized. That is why I was disappointed, and frankly embarrassed, to hear that the City Council voted at its last meeting to move forward with an ordinance that puts the interest of wealthy homeowners before the needs of West Hollywood’s most vulnerable residents who depend on home sharing income.

The ordinance that will go before the City Council on March 5 will continue to ban home sharing in all rental units, limiting the possibility for the majority of West Hollywood residents – 80% — to earn important supplemental income to stay in this increasingly expensive city.

I have lived in West Hollywood for 26 years and proud to call this city my home. For over a decade, my partner, John, and I rented two separate studio apartments in the same building. And, since 1999 we have run our own business, The Paradise Group Talent Agency.

In 2013, my partner was diagnosed with a Glioblastoma brain tumor. In the following months we had to make drastic changes to our lives in order to survive. Doctor visits and hospital bills took over and ultimately I had to put the business on hold in order to become his full-time caretaker. Inevitably, our savings ran out and we struggled to pay our monthly bills.

In order to make extra money, we decided to rent one of the studio apartments on Airbnb and live together in the smaller, cheaper studio. It turned out be a fantastic decision. We had income and could afford to pay our rent, and I was able to be by his side at all times.

In 2016, John passed away. At that time, I decided to reestablish the talent agency in his memory. The income from the Airbnb has allowed me to pay my rent while I spend time working to grow the agency. Without the Airbnb, I would not have the flexibility to carry out John’s legacy and pursue our passion of being entrepreneurs in the creative industry.

Next Monday, I hope that the City Council consider sensible policies that preserve the benefits of home sharing for the majority of West Hollywood residents, not just the most wealthy, to ensure everyday people benefit from the city’s vibrant tourism industry.

  1. I highly recommend our citizens of West Hollywood read this article (Link Below) from the LA Times last May 2017. I personally spoke to HUD about our homeless population and the severity of the situation. The average income for a family of four is $56,000 a year. A one bedroom apartment on average in Weho or the surrounding county is $2000 and up a month. That means one person needs to earn $72,000 annually before taxes to qualify. For those earning the average income they need to find a place for their family that costs $1550. a month and accommodate a family. Good luck folks. Our homeless population is essentially generated by stagnant wages and huge increases in rents. Airbnb is an avenue to prevent this from happening. Reasonable restrictions are warranted. I’d rather have a vetted guest than that mean scary roommate of my neighbor who pounds on my wall should I be on my phone making a business call. He’s not vetted. And he’s scary! Read the FACTS! LA has a ten year plan to fix this problem of homelessness. What should these people do in the meanwhile? Tent anyone? This could be anyone reading this. If one ops for a roommate who loses their job or decides to be a squatter the tenant is responsible for eviction. Meanwhile they occupy your apartment and you don’t have their share of the rent. Been there done that. So how about some regulations and use that tax money to build real affordable housing. Housing that is 30% of one’s income. Not 80% of one’s income. How about it?

    1. Generally people find places to live that they can afford. You believe because some scenario has appeared that it is right for the author of this article and any individual(s) to contort the laws and ordinances of a municipality to conform to the special circumstances of some individuals. Live within your means in a place you can afford and be less stressed. Where is the element of common sense. Be responsible. Good Luck.

  2. Airbnb is the curse of renters. Period. The drive up rents to astronomical levels because THE WEALTHY buy them up to lease out to short-term renters, causing EVERYONE to suffer. As someone who lived in a building that had people subrenting, it was a nightmare. People partying at all hours, trashing the place, and instead of knowing your neighbors, strangers come and go threatening life and property. There are plenty of ways to earn income. Pushing total strangers onto your neighbors is the height of selfishness, and should remain illegal.

  3. A major reason why the West Hollywood City Council limited Airbnb rentals was due to the fact that the politicians are beholden to the developers. Developers of course build hotels. Hotels do not like Airbnb and that means the politicians don’t like Airbnb because the only way they get donations and stay in office is to sell their souls to the developers.Just ask the Townscape Three.

  4. I wonder what percentage of single residents have two apartments at their disposal. I sympathize with the author on a personal level, but it does not extend to the gig economy & mentality.

    I cannot imagine that any sane person wants to share their home (under the same roof, specifically) with strangers.

    We need more affordable housing, PERIOD.

  5. Most rental/lease agreement forbid sub leases because landlords, as property owners with legal obligations/responsibilities, wouldn’t have any control over those “tenants.” With tough rent control laws, it would be next to impossible to remove a sub-let tenant who is causing problems. The same applies to home sharing “guests.” It is landlords’ right to have absolute control over their property, whether that be guests, sub-leases or running a business on their property. They would be liable for any/all negative events, not the tenant. That is on top of everything that Woody McBreairty stated.

    If you do not agree with the terms of the lease, then don’t rent there, or move out. If that means they can raise the rent…that is our capitalist economy, put forth from day one. If one doesn’t like that, then move to a different country which has a different economic structure. If one can no longer afford to live in WeHo despite living here for so many years – which indeed SUCKS, and on face value, seems very unfair – then unfortunately, you must move elsewhere 🙁 When I was a child, my father told me “life is unfair so get used to it.” Indeed, he was correct.

      1. Bill, of course tenants have rights!

        The provisions of the WeHo Rent Stabilization Ordinance guarantee that, in terms of maximum allowable rent, allowable increases, and vacancy increases. Certainly you are familiar with the WeHo Coalition for Economic Survival – they led the drive for West Hollywood city hood in the early 80’s.

        I encourage every tenant in WeHo to check out the history: http://www.cesinaction.org/IssuesActivities/WestHollywoodOrganizing.aspx

        and know your rights:


  6. I’ve heard “it’s like a hotel” so many times I feel compelled now to address that. A “hotel” would have many people coming and going all day long, with staff and management bustling about doing their jobs. An AirBnB host would have no more than one guest per day. How disturbing can the sound of rolling luggage be, really?! The yapping dog on the first floor is disturbing, I’ve complained, nothing has changed, so I’ve learned to deal with it. It’s a part of urban living.

    I have addressed on other occasions everything Woody McBreairty said here, so I won’t repeat it, but just know, there is a response to his opinion.

  7. I feel bad for Jason Record and what he had to deal with. Horrible loss. But I still cant support an AirBNB situation in apartments or condo’s. He said he was renting. I’m guessing probably both units were rent-controlled, thus at a lower rate for them…and they rented out one of their rent controlled studios for double what they owed the landlord. Doubtful the landlord knew of it. Its just not fair for other people living in close proximity to that “now hotel” like business. Sure, many people work from home. But they live there. If you cant live in Weho for the prices…then you move on. If you’ve lived there years…odds are you’re fine and AirBNB is just an excuse to make money doing absolutely nothing. Tall tell sign of our culture in wanting something for nothing.

    1. Whether you oppose home sharing or not, you don’t know of what you speak when you say that hosts “want something for nothing.” Or, as you said, doing “absolutely nothing.” I own my home, I live across the border in Los Angeles, and I rent one my spare bedroom. I don’t advocate apartment dwellers as hosts, and would never allow one of my tenants to do it.

      But regarding your “something for nothing” comment, know that I take my hosting job very serious, and with responsibility. Not only is there cleaning and maintenance involved, but there is vetting guests, communicating back and forth, making arrangements for greeting and handing out keys, etc.. And most important (for me, anyways), I am a host for my guests. I give them recommendations of places to go, things to do. I send people into West Hollywood all the time. People who are spending money at local businesses and contributing to the economy. Some people who couldn’t afford a hotel room, which is $220 on average in this area. Most are very grateful to be able to visit the West Hollywood area, and not be stuck in some crappy hotel somewhere in touristy Hollywood.

      It is more time-consuming that you might imagine.

  8. I’m incredulous that, no matter how long so many people have lived in West Hollywood, they suddenly claim they cannot afford to live here without AirBnB. Really? “Home Sharing” has become a business on residentially zoned streets & are a menace to once quiet & peaceful neighborhoods. Those who rent their apartments & condos to travelers are imposing extra inconvenience & stress on all of their neighbors. Strangers wandering about their buildings can be a perceived threat to their safety & security & sometimes are. There is the extra wear & tear on the property, extra expense to the buildings for utilities & cleaning. People don’t want strangers/tourists wandering in & out of their buildings (homes) at all hours of the night & day, dragging luggage behind them & otherwise making loud disruptive noises Residents/unit owners resent strangers using their pools, rec rooms, laundry rooms etc. “Shared housing” also adds to our already stressful parking problem on residential streets, already hogged by employees of neighborhood businesses. There is also the growing problem of loud parties & special events being held in private homes/apts, & only getting worse, that cause neighbors to lose sleep & cause hostility among residents. The threats to safety & privacy rights & to the right to quiet enjoyment of one’s home outweigh the right of their neighbor to sell those rights for personal profit. Summarized, “home sharing” is not simply renting out your space to transients who have the money, it is renting out the space of everyone else around you & our buildings/homes should not be allowed to be turned into “motels” that reduce our quality of life & degrade our neighborhoods. If the City Council keeps feeding the monster, it will eventually turn back on them & the problem will then be much harder to control.

  9. Donald E Azars, it will be the rare landlord who would allow this. There is nothing in it for them, and they would likely be pleased to have you move so they could rent out your apartment at a higher rate.

    I’ve spoken here on WeHoVille.com on this topic every time the subject has come up, so I won’t repeat myself on this occasion other than to say it really is no one’s business whom I have in my home, nor what arrangement I may have with my guests. Lots of people operate businesses out of their homes, and this is no different.

    1. Unfortunaley even more rare is the tenant of a rent stabilized unit hosting to make ends meet, too often it’s someone using their under market rental as a hospitality business, no longer living there, making it that much easier for landlords to eventually dismantle tenants rights, and rent stabilization ordinances, ruining it for the honest majority of renters in our community.

      1. Any reasonable person would agree that renting out an apartment through AirBnB that the tenant doesn’t live in is way out of bounds. It is unfair to everyone involved, including that it distorts the vacancy rate, which raises the rent to new residents. I can’t imagine that someone who does that would not be quickly discovered and reported.

        1. I completely get what your expressing, but in reading Mr. Records “Opinion”.. that’s exactly what he has done for years by his own admission.

    1. What landlord WOULDN’T want to permit short-term rentals? They’d never have to worry about a vacancy and could charge any outrageous rent and get them rented. Why should the other renters of your building having to suffer so you can earn a few extra bucks? At least to be fair you should share the money with your neighbors.

      1. Many landlords wouldn’t want this, myself included. You think every landlord trusts their tenants to vet people who stay in their buildings? That they don’t care about liability issues? That they are OK with their tenants potentially pulling in a profit off their rent, or enough to live rent free? You think landlords are going to blatantly violate rent control laws because their tenants are running an AirBnB? And lastly, do you really think that landlords are worried about vacancies, living in one of the cities with the lowest vacancy rates in the country? Other than some shady landlords taking kickbacks, I can’t see where many would want this in one of their buildings.

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