New Orleans Passes Measure to Restrict Airbnb Rentals

The New Orleans City Council passed a sweeping ban this week on short term rentals in the historic city.

The move was prompted by residents who complained that short-term rentals are not only leading to increased property taxes but are also destroying the character of historic neighborhoods, according to the Associated Press and other news reports.

In particular, the presence of such rentals has forced working-class people to move out of their communities as more and more properties are converted to serve tourists, reported WWL radio.

“They do not have an affordable place to live anymore,” a woman, who was almost in tears, said at a council hearing on the matter earlier this week, according to WWL radio. “They are being pushed out of the city that they grew up in. They are the ones who produce the culture and the meaning of New Orleans.”

Yet another woman at the hearing called on the council to preserve the neighborhood fabric of the city.

“Do not let this moment pass you by. It is almost too late to save New Orleans. You can make this change,” she said.

Ultimately, the New Orleans City Council voted 7-0 to ban Airbnb-style short-term rentals of whole houses that are not occupied by owners.

The new measure also puts limits on the number of short-term rentals on commercial properties and bans all short-term rentals in most of the historic French Quarter and the Garden District, according to the Associated Press.

There was a round of applause in the council chamber when the measure passed.

But to be clear, there were opponents to the measure.

Eric Bay, a city resident who manages short-term rentals, said the council was bowing to a “well-funded hotel lobby” and wrongfully taking away property rights, the Associated Press reported.

“While this vote provides much needed regulatory certainty for home-sharing in New Orleans, the rules unfairly punish responsible short-term rental hosts who are contributing to the local economy,” Laura Spanjian, of Airbnb, said in an emailed statement.

Expedia Group, the parent company of vacation rental platforms Vrbo and HomeAway, has issued a statement on the measure. Spokesman Philip Minardi called the move “shortsighted.”

Under the new regulations, homeowners will still be able to rent out part of residences that they occupy to short-term visitors. In addition, individuals who own multiple units on one property can get short-term rental permits, provided the person lives on the property.

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