Short-term rental ordinance could be pushed back in wake of reduced budget

The long-awaited ordinance that will regulate a growing number of apartments and homes being marketed on sites like Airbnb may have to wait a little longer after city staff has recommended a phased-in approach.

The ordinance has yet to be approved by the City Council, although it agreed to move forward with crafting an ordinance nearly a year ago. But during a September budget discussion, the council suggested delaying the implementation of the program so that funding set aside for enforcement and administration of the local law could be diverted to other needs.

In December the council laid out guidelines for what a future ordinance should include. Among other things, the ordinance is set to include a 12% transient occupancy tax on rental rates charged by hosts to be collected by the city. It also requires hosts to be Long Beach residents and limits the portion of a single building that could be set aside for short-term rental use to 10%.

The cost to register a short-term rental unit was set at $250 during the most recent budget cycle.

That ordinance is not expected to return to the City Council for preliminary approval until next month. All ordinances require two votes by the council and typically go into effect 30 days after the mayor signs it, but in this case, regulations may not go into effect for six months.

Officials move to regulate short-term rentals in Long Beach

A memo sent from Long Beach Director of Development Services Linda Tatum to acting City Manager Tom Modica this week put that date around April. However, that date would likely be pushed back a month as Tatum’s timeline had the City Council approving the ordinance this month.

During the delay, the city would work to hire an administrator and building inspector to run the registration and enforcement of units in the city, but the program would not be fully staffed until next fall.

That means that there could be a full year from when the ordinance is adopted to when the city starts enforcing the ordinance, as the inspector for the program is not anticipated to be hired until the end of the 180-day grace period in which units can be registered, rented and taxed by the city.

Tatum’s memo puts the reasoning for pushing back the hire dates to next fall as a means to deal with a reduced budget for the program after the City Council opted to divert about $150,000 to other programs, including the city’s office of aging. By pushing the hire dates back, the positions will be funded by the next fiscal year’s budget which starts in October.

The City Council is expected to vote on the ordinance at its Nov. 12 meeting.

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Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post.
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