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Ventura cracks down on short-term rentals made popular by AirBnB.com

By Chris O'Neal 05/29/2014

 

Travelers nationwide are about to feel the squeeze as single rooms in private homes begin to dry up. Cities around the country are taking action against private, single-night dwellings such as those found on AirBnB.com, Homeaway.com and elsewhere.


Over the past few years, privately owned rentals have become increasingly popular with travelers looking for an alternative to motels and who have turned to websites such as AirBnB, the most popular site for booking private homes for short or extended stays.


The popularity of these sites caught the attention of the city of New York and was subsequently found to be illegal by a New York state judge. Los Angeles city officials recently said in a memo that AirBnB’s short-term rentals break various zoning laws in residential areas and, in the city of Ventura, Treasury Supervisor Janey Dunn is reaching out to homeowners listed on AirBnB to become permitted or potentially face future fines.


Dunn says that she has only recently become aware of AirBnB and is not currently penalizing homeowners who are not permitted, but the city has the power to do so.


“We have this ordinance that lays out what is called the standards of performance,” says Dunn. After a phone call from a resident in Pierpont with a noise complaint, Dunn became aware of the website and discovered multiple properties renting rooms for one or two nights at a time. “I was able to identify some of these and there are still some I can’t.”


Dunn sent letters to the addresses she recognized and has received a mixed response. Some homeowners, unaware of the permit requirement, simply chose to remove their homes while others complied, purchasing the $600 permit and adhering to “good neighbor guidelines,” which require filling out a nuisance-response plan and collecting transient occupancy tax. Operators also need a business license, which could run between $50 and $60 a year, says Dunn.


Even after permitting, the homeowners will not be able to rent out their rooms for a single night. Seven-night stays are the minimum in the summer time; during the winter, two-night stays can only be booked if they are separated by a week or more.


“It’s not that I’m cracking down; it’s that I found a resource that I didn’t know was out there,” says Dunn.


Though contact information for permitted residences is available on the city of Ventura’s website, no homeowner contacted returned our request for an interview, and AirBnB.com does not allow contact with homeowners until after booking. 

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