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Santa Ana surprisingly ends ban on short-term home rentals – Anaheim extends moratorium on them

Santa Ana surprisingly ends ban on short-term home rentals – Anaheim extends moratorium on them

SANTA ANA – In a surprising turn away from a staff recommendation, the Santa Ana City Council on Tuesday unanimously voted against extending a moratorium on short-term rentals like Airbnb for an additional 10 months and 15 days.

Council members, spurred by residents’ uproar over a short-term rental in the West Floral Park neighborhood, on Sept. 15 adopted a 45-day emergency moratorium prohibiting new short-term rentals or the expansion of existing ones.

During the ban, staff has been “looking at several different models in several different cities” that regulate the rentals, said Hassan Haghani, executive director of the city’s Planning and Building Agency, and recommended an extension of the moratorium to develop appropriate use standards in Santa Ana.

Unlike the council meeting last month that drew overwhelming support for a moratorium, three spoke during public comment on Tuesday, all against a ban extension.

Santa Ana resident Julie Herrick, 36, who has rented one of the two bedrooms in her condominium on Airbnb for the past three years, said council members would be “overreaching” by extending the moratorium.

“I haven’t had a single complaint from neighbors. I am there with my guests and I generally have one or two guests at the most,” Herrick said. “Even for hosts who are renting their whole unit, I think there are a lot who are also not a problem.”

West Floral Park homeowner Sarah Greenberg, whose short-term rental drew complaints of noise and traffic from neighbors, informed the city by the 45-day ban that she had decided to cease her operation and put her house up for sale.

Councilwoman Michele Martinez, who brought the moratorium up last month, said, “My goal is not to be restrictive, prohibitive and overreaching.”

Martinez proposed that the council, instead of extending the moratorium, move the short-term rentals regulation issue for consideration by the Development and Transportation Council Committee and that staff continue to study the issue. Council members unanimously voted in favor of her motion.

The committee’s work on developing an ordinance around the rentals would then be brought before the council for consideration.

“I’m pleasantly surprised that the city was so considerate and wise in taking into consideration the needs of the community,” said Santa Ana resident Douglas MacLeith, 59, who has put a spot at the back of his house on Airbnb for two years for extra income.

Tuesday’s vote is one the council cannot backpedal on.

Under state law, once a moratorium isn’t extended, another ban on the same issue cannot be enacted, City Attorney Sonia Carvalho noted during the meeting.

“If you choose not to extend it,you don’t get to do the time out again,” she said.

Separately, the Anaheim City Council late Tuesday voted 5-0 to extend a moratorium on accepting applications for six more months from homeowners wanting to rent their properties to tourists bound for Disneyland, local conventions or Angel Stadium.

Last month, the panel approved of a 45-day moratorium in the wake of complaints from residents about noise, trash and the rapid proliferation of vacation homes in Anaheim.

The proposed application ban lasts until May 3, when the City Council could approve a more stringent set of rules on the home-spun businesses. The council could also opt, once again, to further extend the application moratorium.

Airbnb, HomeAway and other online lodging sites list about 400 residences in Anaheim available for rent, mostly concentrated near the city’s resort district. That’s a jump from roughly 200 short-term rentals listed a year ago, when the council adopted several regulations that determine hours of operation, occupancy limits and other rules for the businesses.

Anaheim police have responded to about 300 calls for service at short-term rentals over the past year, mostly to deal with complaints of loud parties and parking issues.

Earlier this month, the council earmarked $ 200,000 to hire two part-time code enforcement officers who will inspect reports of disturbances at short-term rentals. The positions are funded by a 15 percent bed-tax collected from short-term rentals.

Unite Here Local 11, a union representing hotel and hospitality workers in Southern California, has entered the fray in regulating short-term rentals in Anaheim and beyond.

The rise in vacation homes cuts into the long-term housing market, which subsequently drives up rental costs while depleting the number of available houses and apartments, said Daria Ovide, a spokeswoman for Unite Here Local 11.

Additionally, Ovide said that the hospitality workers’ union is concerned the a lack of regulations in cleanliness, security and service could lead to trouble for vacationers opting to stay at short-term rentals rather than traditional hotels.

Staff writer Louis Casiano Jr. contributed to this report.

Contact the writer: Contact the writer: 714-704-3769 or amarroquin@ocregister.com

The Orange County Register – News Headlines : Real Estate News