After two hours of heated debate, the Long Beach City Council remained divided Tuesday about the topic of short-term rentals in the city.
The measure, suggested by Director of Development Services Linda Tatum, expanded the rights of property owners to operate short term rental properties, or STRs, which are currently unregulated within the city.
Councilmember Jeannine Pearce of District 2 vehemently opposed the measure’s allowance for over 1,000 properties to exist as STRs as well as championing an option for communities to “opt-out” of having said homes in their neighborhoods.
Before discussion amongst the council began, open comments were heard, fielding over 50 community members expressing their concerns surrounding the establishment of regulations that would allow the existence of STR properties.
Some, like Anne Anderson, a Naples resident, opposed the measure in its totality.
“We have lived next door to a short term rental in Naples for several years and I can tell you it’s a nightmare from hell,” Anderson said. “When 10 strangers arrive every few days and a business is created three feet away from your next door…you just can’t imagine when the house next door to you instead of becoming a family home becomes a business.”
Others, like Leah Horgan, a resident of District 2, supported the establishment of STRs with stricter regulations than outlined in the measure.
“It’s not about single home-sharing,” Horgan said. “This is a struggle between profit maximization and those of who are looking to keep roofs overheads, month-to-month and ensure that there’s housing for residents who keep the city running.”
STR operator Giovanni Brony advocated for Tatum’s measure and said that operating an Airbnb helped him financially after a job loss.
“I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to host my home,” Brony said. “It has actually taken the place of my job, about five years ago I lost my job, so now I use this as my main income.”
Pearce began the council discussion by asking the staff representing the measure questions regarding the version presented to the council.
Discussions focused on the removal of the requirements to hold a business license to operate a STR as well as a residential requirement that previously held owners of an STR had to be Long Beach residents to operate within the city.
Tatum responded by citing the low number of permitted rentals not warranting a need for licensing.
“Business licenses were removed from the requirement because of the small number of units that we are going to STR operators,” Tatum said. “Currently, people that do rentals, it starts at four units, so it would have to go back to the voters.”
Discussions shifted focus to the actual number of STR properties that should be permitted. The initial measure by Tatum allowed for 1,700 total properties. Pearce advocated for a cap of 500, which was ultimately overruled in a 5-3 vote favoring a cap of 1,000 units.
Councilmember Stacy Mungo of District 5 argued for more units to accommodate a growing market.
“While I would prefer .6%, which is 1,000 units, so that as we add units to the marker more become available,” Mungo said. “Would you be open to .6%, which is approximately 1000? It’s between 950 and 1020.”
Her request was denied by Pearce, who maintained her new cap, influenced by council discussion, at 1,000.
An “opt-out” option was also addressed for communities that, as a whole, did not want STR properties in their neighborhoods.
Dave Hough, a resident of District 3, showed support for this portion of Pearce’s challenge to the measure.
“I agree with several people that it should be a 50+1 as far as the petition goes,” Hough said.
The “50+1” threshold would require 51% of community members to sign a petition stating that they wish to not have STR properties in their community. It was passed by a vote of 8-0.
Councilmember Daryl Supernaw of District 4 advocated for longer periods to accommodate residents’ needs, such as student housing. Pearce advocated for no longer than 90 days.
“So classes just started at Cal State Long Beach, and they’ll end May 8,” Supernaw said. “I think that’s 108 days, so if there’s nothing magical about the 90 days, you could extend it to say, 120 days and accommodate student housing for a semester.”
Pearce called for a motion to reconsider the resolutions decided and to add some administrative terms to the decision.
“You got me guys,” Pearce said. “I thought that we had parsed out being able to vote in different things that I wanted to get in.”
A unanimous vote to reconsider and adopt her terms were accepted.
Her terms included calling for repercussions for platforms, such as Airbnb, that list unauthorized STRs in Long Beach, as well as changing the language of measures to “host” from “STR.”