Next month the community is being invited to help shape the ordinance that will govern short-term rentals in Long Beach, one year after the city council asked to explore how it could legislate the industry in the city.

A kickoff workshop scheduled for Wednesday, May 2 at 6:00PM will be hosted inside a banquet room at Recreation Park Golf Course where an interactive presentation on a proposed short-term rental ordinance will be given and live polling will be conducted, according to a release from the city.

Short-term rentals (STR), more commonly referred to by the websites they’re secured through like Airbnb, are currently banned in Long Beach but listings on such sites still persist. At a meeting last year city staff acknowledged that it lacked the resources to enforce the ban so some members of the city council asked if they could amend the city’s municipal code to regulate them.

The request came from a group of council members headed by Second District Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce who recognized that the industry is taking units that could otherwise be rented long-term to tenants, off the market. Short term rentals are just part of the issue that has led to Long Beach’s vacancy rate dipping into the low single digits and the seemingly endless upward march of the cost of monthly rent.

Within the current municipal code the city allows for room rentals but stipulates that the owner of the home must live in it and limits the number of rooms that can be rented to two.

One of the options the city is considering is establishing a transient occupancy tax (TOT) like the ones paid by persons who stay at hotels in Long Beach to be charged when short-term rentals are purchased within the city. Another could be to continue the ban that’s already in place with more enforcement, something that was proposed during last year’s meeting when staff was directed to seek out options on short term rentals.

However, the city’s financial management team has already factored in Airbnb revenue as a means to close some of the $15 million shortfall projected for the 2019 fiscal year.

“These community workshops are meant to gather public input, all of which will help shape staff’s recommendation that will go before the council,” said Jacqueline Medina, a spokesperson for the city’s department of development services.

A date for that council hearing is currently expected to happen sometime in the Fall of this year.

Despite the ban there are numerous listings for short-term rentals in Long Beach ranging from single room rentals to whole-home rentals where customers are able to rent out entire apartments or houses for a period of time. Last March, Pearce estimated that the number of units like these was above 1,000 in the city, something that city staff speculated was likely a low estimate.

In January a report published by McGill University in Montreal looked at the Airbnb effect in New York City from September 2014 through August 2017. Titled “The High Cost of Short-Term Rentals in New York City” it showed that Airbnb had removed anywhere between 7,000 to 13,500 units of housing from the city’s long-term rental market and on average increased rents by $380.

It also found that a minority of hosts made nearly half of the Airbnb revenue during the report’s window of study, meaning that a majority of listings had been consolidated between a small number of hosts, something Pearce also pointed to in March 2017. The report concluded that nearly 75 percent of the people in neighborhoods at risk of gentrification because of Airbnb listings were non-white.

An additional public review workshop is expected to be held in the future and an online survey will be circulated to gather feedback from the community during the process to craft the ordinance that will govern short term rentals before it is presented to the council for a vote later this year.


Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.