Malibu’s Short Term Rental ordinance finally went through a fine tooth comb with Malibu City Council July 9th addressing many issues brought forward by residents who packed City Hall presenting arguments on both sides of the issue.
After hours of deliberation, it was decided that the STR ordinance will pass a final council vote on September 11th, and will commence in March 2019.
The historic decision drew a huge crowd, some appealed to council not wanting transient commercial traffic in their neighborhoods which has been not only destroying their quality of life, it is also dismantling neighborhoods. On the other side, any “hosts” spoke in front of council claiming they do not allow poorly behaved tenants, and have the right to earn extra income.
One of the biggest disagreements of the night among council members was concerning a septic inspection requirement in order to receive a permit to operate Short Term Rentals. Lou La Monte and Laura Rosenthal who represented the contingency of residents against an outright ban or strict restrictions on Short term Rentals and argued that the inspections would be costly.
Both sides agreed some regulations and restrictions are required, and council agreed to avoid out of town corporations who are buying up properties at a record pace, without an on-site owner on the property.
Council agreed to hire weekend enforcement and have septic systems inspected as a requirement for a $1000 permit.
Other details and clarifications on restrictions, tip lines to report properties, hefty fines and penalties among other details will be finalized at the September 11th meeting. This will also include additional public comment.
July’s meeting was a step in the right direction for both sides, and had major restrictions and regulations not been implemented as directed by the Planning Commission earlier, an outright ban would have been the only recommendation by commissioners who sent the proposed ordinance back to the planning staff twice.
The day after the meeting, local resident STR advocate Michael Lustig, who has been spearheading the local movement to put regulations in place, sent a letter to the community regarding what transpired at the meeting.
“Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The Results From Monday’s Hearing
After 2 years, City Council instructed Staff with 4-0 vote to revise the STR Ordinance at Monday night’s hearing. Some of the new inclusions are, Mandatory Permitting, Limiting to Primary Residences, and some Platform Accountability rules for the online platforms like Airbnb to follow.
This is just another incremental accomplishment. It won’t be perfect when it comes back for a vote September 11th, but if it contains at least the general wording on these sub-headings, I will advocate for passing it.
In the interim there will be many attempts by STR operators to weaken it further or derail it altogether. If the ordinance passes in September it will go into effect sometime in March 15 of 2019.
Councilman Peak actually did a great job of preparing and lead the council on the Primary Residence provision which is a big part of it. Zuma Jay is steadfast and is always full time residents best representative. The Mayor kept the microphone open well past midnight and was more than fair to both sides.
Surprisingly, Lou LaMonte voted with us which means he finally understands the gravity of this legacy issue. Laura Rosenthal abstained which is also very telling.
What Will Happen
When the ordinance comes back I imagine the language will be weaker than the intent of Council’s instruction. We’ve seen this before when the Planning Commission gave instruction and the City Manager completely ignored them.
Staff can’t ignore the the Mayor and the Council but I have seen the City’s Agenda Action Memo that came out after the hearing it’s wording tells me that we’ll still have problems. This is common in cities where you have factions inside that value the Transient Occupancy Tax Revenue over residents quality of life.
I call this the “SIS” (stuck in stupid) route. We’ll get an ordinance that’s on the right track but it won’t be strong enough. It’s a very complicated issue and the legislative mechanisms necessary to control short-term rentals are complex. Some Cities need to burn their fingers a couple times to get it right. We’re no different.
The profit incentive and Airbnb’s messaging will encourage operators to willfully disobey the law and challenge the City to try to enforce it.
Of course, the City will face great difficulty enforcing compliance, the problems will remain and then we’ll have to do this again. This what happens when a City doesn’t learn from the mistakes of others. This same thing happened in San Francisco, New York, New Orleans and several other Cities.
But at least we’ve moved it forward and it’s pointed in the right direction. I’m grateful for the win and appreciative of our Mayor and Council for getting it this far.
What You Need To Do
Out of almost 200 people on my email list only four of us spoke, and another six attended the hearing. I understand people’s reticence to get involved at City Hall, and I know how difficult it is to prep a speech and stand up in front of the world to advocate for our position.
We’re going to have two City Council seats open in November when LaMonte and Rosenthal term out.
It is absolutely imperative that we get two new Councilpersons who understand that regulating short-term rentals properly is a top priority. We have four candidates that have announced their intent to run. I will be meeting with each them before the election to get a deeper read on where they stand.
After the Ordinance passes the real fight begins. As a group we are strong enough in number to influence the outcome of the election. Your vote is going to be crucial because we will need 5 of 5 on the Council, not only to restore order and our quality of life, but also to preserve and protect our coastline from commercialization for generations to come.
I have solved the nuisance that directly affected me, and I could’ve stopped my efforts last January. But my own study of this issue has revealed that with out a doubt there are going be severe long term consequences for my neighbors and friends that I care deeply about.
Many people think that their vote doesn’t matter and that big money always wins. Airbnb is going to be front and center and they will spend. This is their pattern in Cities big and small.
Your vote is absolutely going to make a difference this time. I’m committed to this issue until it’s done right and you should be too.
I’ll be in touch again as we near Labor Day.”
We are anxiously waiting the City’s revisions which should be posted online any day now. Once the revisions have been posted we will have an update on what Malibu can expects regarding the new regulations for Short Term Rentals in 2019.