Los Angeles Proposes Crackdown on Airbnb Party Houses

LOS ANGELES (CN) — It’s the scourge of the Hollywood Hills: short-term Airbnb renters hosting loud, all-night parties that clog up narrow hillside streets, testing the resolve and the eardrums of the permanent residents.

Now Los Angeles City Council is taking steps toward a citywide ordinance to impose escalating fines on owners and tenants at the party houses, building on misdemeanor complaints filed in September against two property owners.

The Public Safety Committee on Wednesday approved the regulations with amendments. It goes now to the Planning and Land Use Management Committee, which is expected to send it to the full City Council for vote.

District Four Councilman David Ryu, who represents people who live in the upscale hillside community and has been working on the ordinance with the City Attorney’s Office and Los Angeles Police, says it will save taxpayer money and simplify enforcement.

At the Wednesday meeting at City Hall, Ryu said the party houses drain police resources, and when officers arrive there is little they can do to stop the nuisances. Hundreds of partygoers spill into streets in narrow hillsides blocking emergency services, endangering the public and threatening wildlife, he said.

“Our police department should not be tasked with breaking up these nuisances every weekend with no recourse to resolve these problems. That’s what this ordinance in front of us intends to do,” Ryu told the other members of the committee.

The ordinance, modeled after one in Newport Beach, would levy administrative fines of up to $4,000 against tenants, homeowners and “sponsors” of party houses who repeatedly violate the ordinance.

“If someone is really flagrantly violating this law and does it repeatedly, the prosecutors in our office could then actually pursue a criminal sanction, which would be a misdemeanor,” said Chief Assistant City Attorney David Michaelson.

In a move that committee chairman Mitch Englander called “creative,” notices will have to be posted at the front of party houses. It would be unlawful to remove the notice within 30 days. The committee adopted an amendment Wednesday that would allow officials to “start the clock over” if the notice is torn down before the notice period ends. Homeowners and tenants could be fined $500 for removing the notice, Michaelson said.

In another amendment, the committee reduced the first administrative penalty from $500 to $100. Using a rising scale, repeat offenders would face subsequent fines of $500, $1,000, $2,000 and $4,000.

“A violation occurring after a period of 12 consecutive months of no violations shall be considered a first violation,” the ordinance states.

The regulations define “loud or unruly conduct” as loud noise, obstruction of neighborhood streets or sidewalk, littering, trespass, public consumption of alcohol, fighting and other disturbances.

“‘Loud or Unruly Gathering’ means a gathering of persons at any residence where loud or unruly conduct occurs at the residence or within 500 feet of the residence, and which threatens or interferes with the public health, safety or welfare, or the comfortable enjoyment of life and property,” the draft ordinance states.

In September, City Attorney Mike Feuer filed a public nuisance complaint against 46-year-old Kamran Younai, accusing him of allowing unlawful short-term rentals at his single-family home on Electra Drive, typically through Airbnb.

The City Attorney’s Office said that in the previous year, short-term tenants had hosted 12 loud parties at the property, packing the streets with vehicles. Crowds spilled over into the streets, the city attorney said. Officers said they saw as many as 300 partygoers at the property.

Feuer is also prosecuting Rose Garcia, 43, who owns a property at La Cuesta Drive. The city attorney says Garcia’s property was the subject of complaints of noise and disturbance on at least nine occasions since March.

“Escalating fines and penalties against both the tenant and the homeowner would ensure that this small minority of unruly party houses do not disturb and threaten the public safety of everyone around them,” Ryu said in a statement after the committee passed the ordinance.

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