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Long Beach could ramp up enforcement on short-term rental operators

The city could deploy another inspector and toughen consequences for instances of violence at short-term rentals.

Long Beach could ramp up enforcement on short-term rental operators
A screenshot of the Airbnb website.

Long Beach could make it easier to crack down on problematic short-term rentals by increasing penalties for instances of violence at rental properties and increasing the number of inspectors the city has to issue citations.

A shooting in early January at a rental property in East Long Beach prompted the City Council to begin looking at changes to the city’s ordinance governing short-term rentals.


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Proposed changes to the city’s ordinance won’t take effect until the council votes on new language at a future meeting, but they could include small clarifications to note that units have to be rented for at least one full day.

But larger changes could require special event permits for filming or weddings, speed up how quickly a citation can be issued by the city and make violent incidents at rental properties subject to two citations.

Under the current ordinance, all violations are subject to one citation, and a property owner could have their license to operate within the city revoked after three citations in one year.

The changes could also give the city’s Community Development Department director the ability to cancel a license if an owner doesn’t work to remedy a violent incident at their property.

At a council meeting on Tuesday night, a resident group wearing red T-shirts emblazoned with “Homes not Hotels” shared stories of loud parties, drug use and confrontations with rental guests near their homes. They said these issues have diminished their quality of life.

The group called on the council to toughen penalties for operators violating the city’s law and to make sure the existing rules are being enforced.

“How is a nuisance motel any different than an Airbnb?” said Andy Oliver, who lives in the College Estates neighborhood. “I’d assume a motel at least has hired security and isn’t plopped into a single-family neighborhood.”

Others called for a new process for how short-term rental operators obtain a permit. Currently, they apply directly to the city but some suggested they should have to circulate a petition among neighbors to get a permit.

Currently, neighbors have to petition to block a short-term rental from coming to their neighborhood and cover a $1,050 petition fee. That fee could go up as well as the fees owners pay to register their units with the city; however, several council members said that neighbors should not have to pay for an increase to the petition fee.


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“When you want to have a block party you have to petition 66% of the people who live on your street before they do it,” said Stephen Carr, who lives in East Long Beach. “Why aren’t we doing that with STRs? We’re paying for the petition and the burden is on us to do it.”

Other property owners wore Airbnb shirts and said that their homes helped supplement their income and that the city should focus on “problem” operators.

‘They hurt the good hosts who are responsible and are trying to run a successful business,” said Jean Young, who operates an Airbnb.

Whether the city will be able to increase enforcement could depend on the upcoming budget and how much more funding the city’s Community Development Department, which oversees code enforcement, is allotted.

Karl Wiegelman, the code enforcement bureau manager for the city, said that the department currently has one inspector assigned to the over 600 un-hosted short-term rental units in the city. Under the current ordinance, code enforcement inspectors must witness a violation for a property owner to be cited.

When the city adopted its original ordinance in 2020, the city implemented a cap of 800 un-hosted units, which don’t have owners on-site during guest stays.

Wiegelman said the department would pursue additional funding this year to pay for another inspector. However, city officials said having those inspectors work during the night would require additional review.

The council is expected to get a report later this year on the city’s options for expanding inspections to evenings when violations might be more likely to happen.

Councilmember Daryl Supernaw — who asked for the update to the ordinance after January’s shooting in the College Estates neighborhood — said he was happy with the proposed changes. He said Wednesday that it would strengthen the system and could settle future disputes without the help of individual council offices.

“The way the College Estates STR was handled was through a lot of work from our office,” Supernaw said. “It’s not that we’re afraid to work, but the system should be able to handle it.”

A draft of the proposed ordinance could return to the council for a first vote in the coming weeks.

Jason Ruiz, city hall reporter for the Long Beach Post, is currently on strike. Donate to help laid-off and striking workers of the Long Beach Media Guild here.

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