01/24/23 CPC Public Meeting

5 Major Revisions to the City Planning Staff Recommendations for Short Term Rentals (ZD 002/23)

City Planning Commission
January 24, 2023, at 1:30 p.m.
City Council Chambers, 1300 Perdido Street

On Tuesday, January 24, the City Planning Commission held a public meeting to review the newly proposed Short Term Rental recommendations. VCPORA attended, alongside other neighborhood groups, advocacy organizations, and concerned citizens. Inside Airbnb has identified 6,927 STR listings in the city, yet only 2,340 are actually licensed. That means two-thirds of all New Orleans STRs are illegal!

The staff report calls for a density cap of 1 STR on each side of a block in all residential zones. Additionally, they recommend that the operator must live on site, with multiple pieces of proof of residency.

Because of the accelerated timeline to have the new regulations in place by March, the staff has not addressed Commercial STRs, enforcement mechanisms, or changing the current existing bans in the French Quarter or Garden District. However, the City Council can make revisions to the final ordinance through the amendment process, so these can potentially be taken up later.

And we absolutely need to discuss enforcement! We can pass the best legislation possible, but without robust enforcement nothing will change.

In summary, the staff recommends:

  • Replacing the owner occupancy requirement for Residential Short Term Rentals and Bed and Breakfasts to operator occupancy.
  • Changing the use type of RSTRs to a temporary use which can be issued for a one (1) year term.
  • Consolidating the Partial-Unit, Small and Large permit types into one (1) Non-Commercial STR permit limited to five (5) guest bedrooms and ten (10) guests.
  • Adding a blockface limitation for Non-Commercial Short Term Rentals of one (1) permit per blockface.
  • Limiting each lot to only one (1) Non-Commercial permit.
  • Requiring that both the property owner and the operator be a natural person.
  • Limiting the operator to only one (1) Non-Commercial Short Term Rental permit.
  • Removing all Short Term Rental Residential uses from the use tables and adding the zoning districts to the new temporary use category.

Read the full report here.

We believe that STRs are fundamentally a commercial use. They should be prohibited in all residential zoning districts city-wide to protect housing opportunities for New Orleanians at all economic levels. The hardest hit neighborhoods need even stronger protections. However, in response to the staff report, we have found areas that need improvement and addressing.

  1. Accessory Bed & Breakfasts

These must be included in the recommended density cap. Accessory Bed & Breakfasts will essentially bypass the density cap by allowing the conversion of homes into tourist accommodations on “capped” blocks. This omission undermines the entire purpose of having a density restriction.

Pg. 36, 20.3.I.2.g In residential districts and HU-B1A Neighborhood Business District, HUB1 Neighborhood Business District, HU-MU Neighborhood Mixed-Use District, S-LM Lake Area Marina District, MU-1 Medium Intensity, Mixed Use District, and MU-2 High Intensity Mixed-Use District, only one (1) Accessory Bed and Breakfast, Principal Bed and Breakfast, or large Non-Commercial Short Term Rental short term rental, is permitted per blockface.

  1. Density Restriction – 1 per block face is too permissive

One STR per blockface allows 2 per block on every block. Multiply that by the number of available blocks in the city and the results are much larger than the current number of listings (including the illegal ones). If we truly want to restrict the over-proliferation of STRs in all neighborhoods, a better approach would be to restrict STRs by square. Many properties have multiple addresses on corners, creating confusion for safety and permits and permit seekers. Restrict all STRs and Bed and Breakfasts to one per square.

  1. Commercial STRs need to be addressed

New Orleans traditional neighborhoods are noted by pockets of commercial corridors, main streets, and corner-store style businesses. These areas immediately abut residential homes. By not addressing the Commercial STRs, this will allow unfettered conversion of properties within the HM-MU, HU-MU, HMC-1, HMC-2, and HU-B1 districts. Additionally, it will invite an unrelenting stream of zoning change applications that will monopolize City Hall resources.

  1. Owners need to be restricted, not just operators

The owner, not just the operator, must be restricted to 1 STR per person. Investors can purchase 6 properties and hire an on-site operator for each. This loophole still allows wealthy, individual investors great profits from the commodification of housing. Ideally, the owner and operator should be the same person, with the same residency requirements outlined already.

  1. 10 is too many!

Ten occupants in a single residential dwelling unit is too many. Consider capping the occupancy limit to 6 people in residential neighborhoods.