On Thursday, the New Orleans City Council unanimously passed a ban on most Airbnb and other short-term rentals in the city to applause from many residents.
The new rules require than the owner lives on a property being used for short-term rentals in residential areas, and places limits on the number of rentals that can be placed in mix-use and commercial buildings. It also places an outright ban on short-term rentals throughout most of the French Quarter and in the Garden District.
Under the new regulations, owners of a duplex can use half of the duplex as a short term rental, as long as they live on the other side. The same of a triplex or fourplex – as long as the owner lives in one unit, the others can still be used as short term rentals.
Those supporting the ban cited that short-term rentals have effectively destroyed the character of residential neighborhoods in the city, and pushed out long-time residents and working-class people. Rising property taxes and the loss of affordable housing throughout the city were common themes.
“[People] are being pushed out of the city that they grew up in,” one woman stressed. “They are the ones who produce the culture and meaning of New Orleans.”
“I have lost a lot of neighbors in the last few years,” Professor Helen Regis said of her neighborhood.
Opponents of the ban argued that the limits are unfair to people who have bought and renovated houses in the city. “I bought with the understanding and the intent that I would be able to utilize Airbnb short term rentals so that I could supplement some of the costs of the home itself,” one commenter stated.
New Orleans resident Eric Bay, who manages short-term rentals in the city, told AP News that the city council had bowed to a “well-funded hotel lobby.”
Currently, there are as many as 8,500 short-term rentals are operating in the city, though few are officially licensed. This has led some residents to speculate on whether the new limits will have any effect at all.
“I agree short-term rental should be restricted, but without giving the tourists an alternative place, it will just go underground again in the neighborhoods,” one commenter noted.
Andreanecia Morrise of the Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance agreed. Without strong enforcement, “They are just going to go underground and stay underground,” she told AP News. Council members agreed that additional enforcement measures will be needed.
Jenn Bentley is a freelance journalist and editor currently serving as Editor-in-Chief of Big Easy Magazine. Her work has also been featured in publications such as Wander N.O. More, The High Tech Society, FansShare, Yahoo News, Examiner.com, and others. Follow her on Twitter: @JennBentley_