Short-term rental (STR) rules need tweaking


Short-term rental public hearings continue at the city level. I just watched the city planning commission’s latest public hearings, this since the recent commission study commissioned by the city has been released.

As readers of my blog know, I am in favor of STRs being allowed, albeit with STRONG provisions including increasing public profile sites, neighbor reviews, and data sharing between sites.

After reading quickly through the long report (will read more thoroughly over the next weeks), it is clear to me that there are some flaws that need to be addressed including taxation and data sharing.

(by the way, I don’t appreciate how many residents of other neighborhoods when testifying feel the need to dismiss the French Quarter and state that it is not a neighborhood; we are and remain the classic version of the mixed-use neighborhood with residential, commercial, short-term and entertainment districts. Even the NOCVB feels the need to oversimplify the requests of visitors looking for “authentic New Orleans” and things to do outside of the FQ; let’s be clear that the Quarter is authentic New Orleans and that many of those visitors ask about other areas after they have visited previously, using the Quarter primarily.  I believe QoL enforcement is likely higher in our neighborhood by our residents who are hyper-vigilant in watching their block and larger area. So stop dismissing us as a neighborhood.)

As a matter of fact, the French Quarter knows best what STRs can do well and what they can do badly. Because of that, a few owner-occupied rentals should be allowed but fined at a high rate in the Quarter.

•As Meg Lousteau pointed out in her 2 minutes, why not require data from sharing sites instead of shrugging and saying it is impossible to regulate this industry?

•I also disagree with opponents who stated that this is a commercial use with residential impacts; I think that the best and most use of STRs is the opposite and should be regulated as such.

•If the current regulations for rentals require two months in the French Quarter and one month at a minimum elsewhere in city, then why not cap STR at that numeric level? so 6 for year in the Quarter and 12 elsewhere per rental?

•I’d suggest changing the renewals to every 18 months and not every 3 years; since this is for SHORT TERM uses, everyone should have to reconsider the use of their property every 18 months.

•I do agree with the proponent who pointed out that since the largest STR site offered to start to collect taxes on their site, we should at least consider it as the potential taxing entity, rather than immediately going to the state to increase sales tax.  That taxation plus fees in the permitting stage and in fines can assist with the functionality of this oversight; most of the taxes and fees should go to managing this set of regulations, but 10% of the fees should go back to the neighborhoods each year to be used for QoL improvements. The amount given to each neighborhood should be based on the percentage of permits it includes.

•First out of the box permitting is not the best idea; I agree with the CPC commissioner that this will benefit the biggest STRs and those most active which is not the right use.

It might be better to ask for online registration of permitting requests and spend time researching STR sites and asking for plans (how often they hope to rent, how many nights they will require, other rules of the house which will be listed on the STR sites) from each applicant which must include pictures and description of the site. The initial permits would then be offered to those who provide the most information and based on the permits available. Additionally, once the permitting begins, renewals should be partly based on the neighbors’ reviews and the online profile.

•All of the enforcement should include reviews and written online input by neighbors (that input should require leases, utility payments or primary residence property in Orleans parish to allow that input) along with a special STR commission that meets every 6 months to mediate immediate issues. Anytime a property owner is brought to the mediation process, that record should be added to the public profile of the STR.

Reviews by neighbors abutting should be included in the STR public reviews.

The online profile should be reviewed by STR staff at least once every year, with notes added to that file.

The conditional use process is probably the right process for allowing FQ STR permits except for owner-occupied rentals.

•What is termed as MG rentals of a total 30 days or of 4 rentals per year need special rules and should require re-permitting yearly.

•6 people should be allowed in any STR with 1200 sf or less, 9 people for 1201-2000 s.f. with a cap at 9 people at these rentals. 3 max for less than 600 sf. Nothing under 80 s.f. in rental space should be allowed.

•I agree with Dana Eness of Urban Conservancy that the STR parking requirements are counter to the water management goals of the city and parish.

•All STRs should be listed on sites under the formal leasee or property owner and linked to their city property tax rolls, and not allowed to be listed under other accounts.

•The online system should show a real time map of permitted STRs AND un-permitted STRs listed on online sites. That map and set of listings should be used for every permit and renewing permit.

Thank you for the CPC staff Rivers for pointing out that density is a constantly-changing reality in every neighborhood; He pointed out that density has decreased in the Marigny over the last 40 years because of duplexes and fourplexes turning back to single homes. That density has to be considered in the present day, which is often not the case with opponents arguments on STR. Density changes and with that, uses change, but simply because your residence has changed to a single-family residence does not mean the entire neighborhood has as well.

Thank you to the commissioner (chair?) for pointing out that different densities offer different privacy shields and that it may be best that the historic corridor have different requirements because of that fact.

Thank you to Commissioner Marshall who asked for causality on the assertion that the in-demand neighborhoods are going to see higher rents because of STRs, rather that in-demand neighborhoods have always had higher rents  and that the market of development has driven the skyrocketing rents (and I’ll add THAT  the lack of affordability in every neighborhood should be addressed by City Council separately and immediately and with as much attention as the STR fight has been given.)


About DW

New Orleans resident, writer, activist. Public market consultant.

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