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.