In advance of the first of three meetings this March on the court mandated rewrite of New Orleans short-term rental (STR) laws, Councilmember Leslie Harris released the motion and amendments that are most likely to be the foundation of the City’s residential short-term rental regulations via press release on Tuesday.
In the months since the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled New Orleans’ STR laws unconstitutional and required a rewrite in advance of their court set deadline of March 31st, there has been ample discussion of what density limits are appropriate for residential neighborhoods.
LaFHAC has remained steadfast in our belief that whole-unit STRs do not belong in New Orleans neighborhoods and if they are allowed, residential STRs need the harshest restrictions in order to help alleviate the gentrification and affordable housing crisis the city faces. In their report and recommendations, the City Planning Commission (CPC) settled on density restrictions of one per blockface, which would allow two STRs on every block in New Orleans, one per each side of the street. Councilmembers Harris and Giarrusso proposed new rules that closely mirror the CPC recommendations, but we were disappointed to see a proposed amendment by Councilmember Morrell that would completely eliminate density restrictions to rely on enforcement as a regulatory measure. Knowing our STR enforcement is lackluster at best, this move would open New Orleans to a short-term rental free for all in our residential neighborhoods. This proposal is wildly out of step with what New Orleanians want, and what his colleagues on the Council have proposed.
LaFHAC remains hopeful that an additional amendment authored by Councilmember Eugene Green and cosponsored by Councilmembers Oliver Thomas and Joe Giarrusso, which calls for one short-term rental, bed and breakfast or accessory bed and breakfast per square block, will carry the support of the three other councilmembers to set a stricter density limit.
We are also grateful of the efforts of Councilmembers Harris and Giarrusso for closing a related bed and breakfast loophole left open by the City Planning Commission, where STRs posing as bed and breakfasts would have been exempt from the density restrictions. Their attention to public comment brought forth this amendment, which will help prevent our residential areas from becoming hotel districts.
Lastly, the work on reigning in short-term rentals in our city is far from done. The New Orleans City Council still needs further regulations to create conversion fees for when investors take rental units off the market and turn them into STRs, policies that will guarantee real and reliable enforcement with tangible consequences, and tighter regulations of commercial short-term rentals.
Take Action Now: Tell City Council New Orleans need strict rules, serious penalties and real enforcement for short-term rentals.