Los Angeles STRs and Police Permits: Necessary Regulation or a Hotel Lobby Ploy?

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By: Brad Greiner, CEO of Open Air Homes and OpenAiRE Brokerage

Open Air Homes is Embracing this Regulation, Yet Skeptical of It’s Motives

In the ever-evolving landscape of Short-Term Rentals (STRs) in Los Angeles, a new development has surfaced: the Los Angeles City Council’s recent approval of a law requiring Airbnb hosts and hotel operators to obtain police permits. 

The LA Times journalist Dakota Smith had some great reporting on this development, and snuck in a quote at the end of the article from the City Council President’s aid that sums up what we have long been suspecting – the hotel lobby is pushing city councils all over the country to push for more regulations on the STR industry. 

“Karo Torossian, Krekorian’s chief of staff, said the issue of the police permits emerged during talks with the hotel union and hotel industry.”

As a leading player in the STR space in Los Angeles for over a decade, Open Air Homes has always advocated for being good neighbors.   We have also blogged about this subject numerous times over the years. 

We’ve implemented policies like requiring guests to commit to respectful behavior, setting minimum night stays, and avoiding instant bookings to ensure respect and harmony within communities. 

However, the newest regulation raises an eyebrow, not for its intent but for its underlying implications.

The Regulation: A Closer Look

The law, backed by City Council President Paul Krekorian, aims to curb party houses and illicit behaviors at rental properties. This move introduces a new layer of regulatory oversight, empowering local neighborhoods and the City Council to have a say in the issuance of these permits. In principle, this move aligns with our ethos at Open Air Homes – we believe in regulation that ensures the safety and respect of our neighborhoods. 

But, Why the Police?

The involvement of the Los Angeles Police Department in the permitting process, however, raises concerns about increased workload for an already stretched department. The requirement, which extends to a range of businesses from car valet services to antique stores, now encompasses STRs and hotels, mandating criminal background checks and potentially hefty fees.

The Hotel Lobby’s Shadow

The notable aspect of this ordinance is its genesis – conversations between the hotel union and the Los Angeles City Council members. 

Krekorian’s chief of staff, Karo Torossian, mentioned that the issue of police permits emerged during these talks, aimed at protecting communities and travelers.  As mentioned above, this was buried towards the end of the article, yet shows the hidden money by the hotel lobby at play to restrict short term rentals.  This revelation can’t be overlooked; it hints at the influence of the hotel lobby in shaping STR regulations. 

This isn’t just about community safety; it’s also a strategic move by the hotel industry to limit competition.  The hotel lobby is represented by the large hotel players, who can easily handle filing for these Police Permits.  However, the small hotel owner is in a similar position to STR homeowners – this adds work to their plate when they are already overworked. 

A Double-Edged Sword

While Open Air Homes welcomes regulations that promote responsible hosting and community safety, we can’t ignore the potential ulterior motives of this new regulation. 

The hotel industry, instead of competing with STRs on service and quality, seems to be leveraging political channels to create more hurdles for STR operators. This approach, while possibly effective in the short term, could lead to higher accommodation costs for guests (in chain hotels, nonetheless) – a trend already observed in cities like New York where hotel prices surged following similar crackdowns on STRs.

Our Stance: Responsible Hosting

At Open Air Homes, we remain committed to responsible hosting. We’ve always pivoted our business to comply with evolving regulations, and this scenario will be no different. We believe in creating a harmonious balance where STRs can coexist with communities and complement the local tourism and hospitality industry, without being unfairly targeted by competing interests.

If you are a homeowner considering short term rentals and are fed up with the continual hoops that the city of Los Angeles is making you jump through, please reach out.   

Open Air Homes is committed to continuing to pivot through all of the regulation changes that the city of Los Angeles sends our way – this is our commitment to our homeowner partners. 

Looking Ahead: Fair and Balanced Regulation

As the STR industry matures, it’s crucial that regulations are crafted in the spirit of fairness and balance, considering the interests of all stakeholders – hosts, guests, communities, and yes, even hotels. Open Air Homes will continue to advocate for responsible hosting practices while calling for transparency and equity in regulatory processes. 

Only through a collaborative approach can we ensure that the vibrant tapestry of accommodations in Los Angeles, from charming STRs to luxurious hotels, thrives in harmony, offering diverse and enriching experiences to all who visit this dynamic city.



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