Airbnb operators in LA would need a police permit under the proposed law

(Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times)

Airbnb operators in LA would need a police permit under the proposed law

LA Politics, Homepage News

Dakota Smith

November 28, 2023

The Los Angeles City Council will consider a new law Tuesday that would require owners of short-term rentals, including Airbnbs, and hotels to obtain a police permit.

City Council President Paul Krekorian and other supporters of the proposal said the permit requirement will help the city crack down on party houses and properties that invite illegal behavior.

More broadly, it would create a new regulatory hurdle for short-term rental and hotel operators, allowing the City Council and neighborhoods to challenge the issuance of the permits.

Dozens of businesses, including car parks, antique stores and bowling alleys, already require police permits to operate in LA. Many permits require criminal background checks and the initial cost can be hundreds of dollars.

Several Airbnb hosts expressed concerns about the proposal during a city council committee hearing last week. They called the police clearance requirement excessive and said they don’t want fingerprints taken as part of a criminal background check. Others question the price of the permits.

“I just ask that you don’t burden us with extra hoops to jump through and extra police checks and extra costs,” Kevin Stevens, a homeowner in North Hollywood, told council members.

Peter Hillan, a spokesman for the Hotel Assn. of Los Angeles, said Monday he did not know how many of the association’s 600 members already have police permits, but said the group is concerned about the requirement.

Hillan also questioned whether the police department has sufficient staff to oversee the additional permits.

A recent report from the Los Angeles Police Department suggested initial fees of $260 for short-term rentals. Krekorian said charges have not yet been finalized and he is hopeful the background check can be conducted without fingerprinting.

My goal is to create [obtaining a police permit] as easy and painless and almost automatic as I can, Krekorian said. The idea will be that if someone asks for it, unless there is a complaint from someone, it will be granted routinely.

Airbnb declined to accept the proposal on Monday.

According to the city’s Planning Department, there are approximately 6,725 short-term rental units listed with the city.

Under the proposal, the police permit would be issued to the operator of the short-term rental unit.

The police permit requirement is part of a package of regulations aimed at new hotels that was announced earlier this month.

The regulations are a compromise between the city and the hotel workers’ union, which initially tried to force a vote regarding hotel rooms and housing for homeless residents.

Under the ordinance being considered Tuesday, new hotels would go through a more extensive approval process. Hotel developers would also have to replace homes that are demolished to make way for their projects by building new homes or purchasing and renovating existing homes.

In return, the union’s ballot proposal, which aimed to place homeless residents in vacant hotel rooms, would be voluntary for hotel operators.

Kurt Petersen, co-president of Unite Here Local 11, which represents thousands of hotel workers, said the police licensing requirement would help end “illegal short-term rentals,” which he said was worsening the homelessness crisis.

Karo Torossian, Krekorian’s chief of staff, said the police licensing issue came to light during discussions with the hotel union and the hotel industry.

We discovered there was an additional section that would help further protect communities and the traveling public, Torossian said.


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