Laguna Beach latest to freeze Airbnb, other short term rentals

Airbnb, the online home-rental service, says it will start collecting hotel taxes in a few American cities.
Airbnb, the online home-rental service, says it will start collecting hotel taxes in a few American cities.
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Laguna Beach is the latest Southern California city to slap a moratorium on short-term rentals popularized by sites like Airbnb and HomeAway. The city council voted unanimously Tuesday to grant a 45-day stay on new requests for short-term rentals while it studies what to do in the long term. 

The move comes after city residents complained of an increase of loud parties, traffic congestion, littering, and vandalism, which several at the council meeting attributed to the growing popularity of the rental sites, the L.A. Times reports

The moratorium means the city won't grant any new permits to those wishing to rent out their homes for less than 30 days. That may not stem the problem, as few appear to be registering with the city in any case. 

The Times reports: 

Owners pay $275 for a permit that allows them to rent out space under Laguna's current ordinance. But city staff said many owners do not register with the city and rent rooms in secret. When people don't register, the city misses out on the revenue from so-called transient occupancy taxes.

 Popular short-term rental websites list hundreds of available rooms in the city, which is a “great disparity” to the 64 permitted businesses, a city staff report found.

In their report, the city council found dozens of complaints related to short-term rentals, and says its found some clever ways owners avoid penalties: 

Many owners of unpermitted units have become adept at avoiding detection through the use of several strategies including encouraging their renters to inform investigating code enforcement staff that they are related to the property owner and not paying to stay in the unit...

You can read their full report here

Laguna Beach joins nearby cities Santa Monica and Aliso Viejo in enacting legislation against the popular rental sites. West Hollywood has also been considering an outright ban on short term rentals in their city.

Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti laid out a plan in his State of the City speech to tax Airbnb rentals and use the proceeds to create more affordable housing.