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New Orleans City Council temporarily bans several short-term rentals

The council needs more time to figure out how to handle short-term rentals

Nearly a year after New Orleans City Council approved short-term rental regulations, the council has banned the addition and renewal of temporary short-term rental licenses throughout parts of the city. District C Councilmember Kristen Gisleson Palmer led the proposal.

On Thursday, May 24, city council passed a nine-month ban that prohibits new temporary licenses; freezes the renewal of temporary licenses; and restricts short-term rentals in mixed-use districts across New Orleans. The council created an Interim Zoning District, where the temporary ban will apply to short-term rentals.

Primarily impacting residential zones, the Interim Zoning District covers short-term rentals in the Marigny, Treme, Bywater, Central City, Lower Garden District, Uptown, and Central Business District neighborhoods. It also affects parts of Mid-City and the 7th Ward. The affected neighborhoods are apart of New Orleans’s Historic Core, Historic Urban, or the city’s Mixed-Use Zoning districts.

Most of Gentilly, Lakeview, New Orleans East, and suburban parts of Algiers will not be affected by this Interim Zoning District, Palmer said in an official release.

In short, the ban will prevent the addition and renewal of whole-home rentals, which require a temporary license to operate legally in New Orleans. Homeowners that use rental services such as Airbnb to rent rooms in their primary residence—where they have a homestead exemption—or rent part of an owner-occupied multi-family home, are not affected by the temporary ban in the Interim Zoning District.

Active temporary licenses will be honored until their expiration dates. Although, under the current city council motion, licenses will not be renewed under the temporary ban. According to The New Orleans Advocate, temporary rental licenses are the most common type of licenses in the city and are heavily affected by this temporary ban.

To view a list of short-term rentals across New Orleans, The Lens has a visual database of licenses and applications.

City council’s recent motion affects short-term rentals in commercial buildings, as well. Unlike in residential-zoned buildings, owners of commercial-zoned short-term rentals can apply and renew commercial licenses. However, during the ban, licenses for short-term rentals will not be allowed in ground-floor-units of multi-story buildings. This will reserve the ground floor for residential use, Palmer wrote.

Along with the ban, city council directed the City Planning Commission to assess short-term rental regulations in four similarly-sized southern cities—Austin, Charleston, Nashville, and Savannah—and determine which of the cities’ short-term rental models will apply best to New Orleans.

The Commission will have 120 days to complete the study. The Council mandated the City Planning Commission to host a public hearing session by July 23, 2018, and complete the study by September 21, 2018.

“My colleagues and I are committed to finding a balance on how we keep the [short-term rental] program but address the concerns of historic neighborhoods,” Palmer said in an official release.

In response to the ban, Airbnb public policy director Laura Spanjian released an official statement from the company, saying “It is disappointing the city council chose to punish many law-abiding New Orleans residents who depend on home sharing to support their families. We have worked closely with the City for more than two years to develop and implement fair rules, which provide the City data and tools to enforce the law and millions in tax revenue, and today’s vote flies in the face of the collaborative spirit with which we’ve approached our work with the City.”

In a separate move, city council directed the City Planning Commission to conduct an additional study on the potential effects of allowing short-term rentals on the upper-floors in buildings on Canal Street. In an official release, Councilmember-At-Large Jason Williams asked the Commission to determine if the short-term rentals would attract “more diverse and upscale retails on the bottom floors and also relieve the demand for [short-term rentals] in residential neighborhoods.”

“[The Canal Street corridor] has languished in disrepair for decades, and we must tend to it and restore it to its vitality and grandeur with deliberate haste,” Williams added.