Los Angeles Airbnb hosts would need permission from the police to do business under an ordinance being considered by the Los Angeles City Council.
A "responsible hotel" ordinance that earned the unanimous support of the council Tuesday would require hotel and short-term rental operators to obtain a police permit each year to do business. Getting that permit, in turn, would require a criminal background check, the payment of fees totaling hundreds of dollars, and possibly submitting fingerprints to the police.
The new regulations come as part of a "compromise" between hotel owners and the hotel workers union Unite Here Local 11, which has been engaged in strikes against individual hotels over this past year.
One of the union's demands had been that hotel owners support an initiative the union placed on the Los Angeles city ballot in March 2024 that, if passed, would require hotels to give vacant rooms to the homeless.
In exchange for the passage of Tuesday's ordinance, the union has agreed to pull that initiative from the ballot.
The bulk of the Responsible Hotel Ordinance layers additional regulations on new hotel developments.
It requires that city planning officials, before issuing permits for new hotels, study how the new hotel's employees will impact housing, public transit, and child care services.
Per the ordinance, city planning officials will also have to produce findings on whether the new hotel is hiring from the surrounding neighborhood as a means of reducing additional traffic, whether it's agreed to support nearby small businesses, whether it encourages its employees to ride transit or bike to work, and whether the hotel will negatively impact affordable and rent-controlled housing.
The findings of city planning officials can also be appealed up to the city council, giving it a direct role in approving individual hotel projects. As with similar discretionary approval processes, these new permitting procedures will give third parties greater ability to wring concessions out of the sponsors of new hotel projects.
Short-term rental hosts, who've largely been on the sidelines in that fight, are coming out in strong opposition to the police permitting requirement.
"Subjecting these hosts to further permitting, mandatory fingerprinting, and additional fees is not equitable in practice as it discourages more residents from becoming hosts, impacting economic opportunities available to residents less willing to interact with LAPD," said James Privette, director of civic innovation policy at Chamber of Progress, a tech business trade association, in a comment to the Los Angeles City Council.
A Los Angeles Police Department representative told the city council during Tuesday's hearing that the police permitting requirement for short-term rentals would triple its permitting workload, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Some councilmembers, while supporting the permits, have said they'd consider ways to lower fee costs and avoid fingerprinting requirements, reported the Times.
A motion introduced by Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson also asked the city to examine alternatives to requiring short-term rental owners to obtain police permits.
The city council will vote again on the Responsible Hotel Ordinance on Friday.
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