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New Orleans city council member is going to ban ‘whole home’ vacation rentals

Kristen Gisleson Palmer’s measure had been awaited with anxiety by some property owners who own short-term rental properties.
(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

A ban on “whole-house” short term vacation rentals in New Orleans, it was proposed Thursday by a city council, a move long-awaited by critics, who say that investors have helped drive the cost of housing and disfigure the character of historic districts by buying up properties and renting them out-of-towners.

Kristen Gisleson Palmer’s measure had been awaited with anxiety by some property owners who own short-term rental properties. And drew a rebuke from Airbnb and HomeAway, two of the most well-known online platforms for short-term rentals.

Airbnb’s e-mail statement said the plan would “devastate” some New Orleans property owners who depend on a short-term rental income.

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HomeAway spokesman Philip Minardi said that the proposal is an extreme measure that would penalize owners who have invested in the community.

“This framework would be in danger of those who are responsible homeowners without cause, decline of tax collections, and the prevention of tourism dollars spread throughout the city,” Minardi said in a press release. Backers of non-owner-occupied short-term rentals say that the practice can help in revitalizing the sick wards.

A homeowner who wanted for the rental of parts of his or her home to vacationers can still do so in the proposal, as long as the owner remains on the premises. But Palmer wants to stop investors from buying up houses in neighborhoods used only for the purpose for which they are in holiday places.

Complaints about the short-term tenants are taking the place of long-term residents are especially strong in the Marigny and Treme neighborhoods, where critics have said vacationers have sometimes noisy, pushed the limits of the city is the tolerance for the event.

“If you kill the neighborhoods you kill the reason people come here,” Palmer told reporters Thursday.

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Palmer’s proposal also extends an existing ban on short-term rentals in the French Quarter and around the city’s Garden District. And it requires that owners of a building in one of the commercial areas with their short-term rentals, with an equal number of affordable homes.

Opponents of a short-term, whole-home rentals won council approval in May of a temporary prohibition on the issuance of new licenses for the whole house to rent, a forerunner of the Thursday in the proposal. The council is expected to be the first official look at Palmer’s proposal next week. A final vote is expected in April.

Cities and states are wrestling with the question of how best to regulate short term rentals for a year.

In November, for example, news outlets reported that the Washington city council voted to limit short-term rentals to primary residences, and limit rentals in which the owner is not present is 90 days per year. In the South of Portland, Maine, the Portland Press Herald reported that a ban on non-owner-occupied short-term rental takes effect Jan. 1.

San Diego City Council’s October vote to repeal the ordinances that, among other things, barred short-term rentals of second homes.

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Airbnb is the statement says the polling shows residents support short-term rentals, such as those used as a full-time Airbnb rentals. The company said Palmer’s proposal was “crafted in a backroom without the input of stakeholders.” Palmer countered that there were months of meetings and public input that went into the proposal. And there will be more public hearings, and study for the proposal comes up for a final vote.

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