New Orleans City Council

Thursday, December 1, 2016

New Orleans short-term rental laws get final vote

Posted By on Thu, Dec 1, 2016 at 4:30 PM

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Following several years of debate, New Orleans officials passed a series of ordinances Dec. 1 to legalize, and enforce, short-term rentals. With input from Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration, Airbnb and the City Planning Commission, the New Orleans City Council passed several ordinances that amend the city's governing zoning code to include rules for short-term rentals on websites like Airbnb and HomeAway in New Orleans.

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Short-term rentals in New Orleans get City Council approval

Posted By on Thu, Oct 20, 2016 at 9:15 PM

At an Oct. 20 New Orleans City Council meeting, opponents of whole-home rentals in New Orleans wore "shame" buttons, with the Airbnb logo replacing the "A."
  • At an Oct. 20 New Orleans City Council meeting, opponents of whole-home rentals in New Orleans wore "shame" buttons, with the Airbnb logo replacing the "A."

Airbnb now has a framework to operate, legally, in New Orleans. After months of debates and public meetings over short-term rentals (STRs), their proliferation, and the impacts they've had in the city over the last several years, the New Orleans City Council on Oct. 20 passed a measure — introduced by Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration this week — that sets up permits, fees, taxes and an infrastructure for short-term rentals advertised on platforms like Airbnb and VRBO.

The motion prohibits full-time whole-home short term rentals in residential areas — but it will allow whole-home "temporary rentals" up to 90 days a year.

The vote followed a week of compromises laid out by Landrieu's administration, which initially supported the practice of whole-home rentals in residential neighborhoods, but backed off in favor of "temporary rentals" up to 120 days a year, then, ultimately, 90 days. Housing advocacy groups and residents — disappointed with the compromise vote — have demanded the city prohibit all whole-home rentals. Opponents, in red, wearing "shame" buttons and holding up signs, called councilmembers "sellouts"; proponents cheered.

The motion serves as a starting point to amend the city's Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance, the city's massive rulebook for land use through which all property manners adhere. It now will incorporate STRs.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

New Orleans City Council moves short-term rental vote to Oct. 20

Posted By on Tue, Oct 4, 2016 at 6:00 PM

City Councilmember caricatures on the steps of City Hall during a protest on Sept. 27.
  • City Councilmember caricatures on the steps of City Hall during a protest on Sept. 27.

Following years of debate and several studies, the New Orleans City Council was set to vote on a framework for regulating short-term rentals advertised through platforms like Airbnb. The vote was scheduled for Oct. 6. Today, the City Council announced it's moving the matter to Oct. 20.

But if the Council misses its Oct. 20 deadline, that could table the issue for good, at least until the next administration steps in.

The City Council is looking at a lengthy report and recommendations from the City Planning Commission (CPC) outlining four potential types of short-term rentals, a practice that currently is illegal but rarely if ever enforced. The CPC voted to prohibit whole-home rentals in residential areas, which account for nearly three-quarters of all short-term rentals in New Orleans and 2 percent of the city's entire housing stock.

Only a few City Councilmembers have spoken out against whole-home rentals — District A Councilmember Susan Guidry told Gambit in July that they're "the biggest threat to the quality of life of our long-term residents." District D Councilmember Jared Brossett said he's concerned about the "commercialization of residential neighborhoods as a result of whole-house short-term rentals." At-Large Councilmember Stacy Head said they would likely be "heavily regulated" if they're approved.

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Monday, October 3, 2016

Four-story Hampton Inn hotel planned for Elysian Fields Avenue in Faubourg Marigny

Posted By on Mon, Oct 3, 2016 at 1:25 PM

One of Banksy's New Orleans works included this piece at 501 Elysian Fields Ave. - INFROGMATION OF NEW ORLEANS / CREATIVE COMMONS
  • INFROGMATION OF NEW ORLEANS / CREATIVE COMMONS
  • One of Banksy's New Orleans works included this piece at 501 Elysian Fields Ave.

Developers plan to construct a Hilton Hampton Inn hotel in the Marigny at the corner of Elysian Fields Avenue and Decatur Street. A Sept. 29 letter sent to residents outlines plans for a four-story hotel with 119 rooms, front pedestrian entrances on Elysian Fields and onsite parking accessed by driveways opening on Decatur Street, with landscaping to provide a "visual barrier." Francisco Alecha of Alecha Architecture writes that it would take about 18 months to construct after plans are approved.

Developers will host a community meeting at 7:15 p.m. Monday, Oct. 17 at St. Paul Lutheran Church (2614 Burgundy St., at Franklin Avenue), where residents "are invited to ask questions or pose concerns about our project," according to the letter. The building requires a conditional use permit for construction, which must be approved by the City Planning Commission and the New Orleans City Council.

Developer Amit Patel — through his group 501 EFA Hotel, which has developed several hotels in the New Orleans area — bought the building for $3.5 million last month. The building previously was held by developer Sean Cummings, who bought it for $1.1 million in 2007 with plans for the "Elysio Lofts," a $20 million, six-story condo project that opened a debate with neighbors and the city over its high-rise future, potentially opening the doors for similar developments downtown. In 2012, the City Council effectively killed the plans.

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Sunday, October 2, 2016

Bywater, Marigny, St. Roch residents march against whole-home short-term rentals

Posted By on Sun, Oct 2, 2016 at 8:48 PM

A parade opposing whole-home short-term rentals was held today in the Bywater, Marigny and St. Roch neighborhoods. It was staged in Bywater's Mickey Markey Park.
  • A parade opposing whole-home short-term rentals was held today in the Bywater, Marigny and St. Roch neighborhoods. It was staged in Bywater's Mickey Markey Park.

About 125 downtown residents held a "neighborhood parade" this afternoon to protest whole-home short-term rentals. The issue — debated for years — has heated up in recent months in New Orleans, and it's scheduled to come before the New Orleans City Council for a vote Oct. 6. The City Planning Commission has recommended banning whole-home rentals, but the Council has been hesitant to rule them out completely, partially at the request of Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration.  

The event was the brainchild of Bywater resident and artist Devin DeWulf, who said the homemade parade — complete with babies in strollers, dogs and the Treme Brass Band — was an "opportunity to celebrate a bit," and stressed that "no one" was objecting to a homeowner renting out a bedroom in his or her house as a side hustle. "But we have people who are out-of-town landlords that rent out whole houses like hotels," he said.

"The City Council can do whatever they want," DeWulf added, "but they have a history of disregarding the recommendations of the City Planning Commission."

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

"RIP affordable neighborhoods": New Orleans residents stage protest and "funeral" as the City Council prepares for short-term rental vote

Posted By on Tue, Sep 27, 2016 at 1:30 PM

A political theater protest against whole-home short-term rentals in New Orleans included coffins for "affordable housing" and "actual neighbors."
  • A political theater protest against whole-home short-term rentals in New Orleans included coffins for "affordable housing" and "actual neighbors."

From the steps of City Hall, the Treme Brass Band provided the soundtrack for a funeral march following the deaths of "affordable neighborhoods" and "actual neighbors," casualties of the proliferation of short-term rentals in New Orleans. At least that's the future to come, according to several neighborhood groups, if whole-home rentals through companies like Airbnb are allowed to operate in New Orleans.

Staging a political theater protest and march Sept. 27, artists and neighborhood groups (including Neighbors First for Bywater, the Faubourg St. Roch Improvement Association and Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association) carried two caskets, placards illustrating short-term rental listings, and signs representing each New Orleans neighborhood saying "no" to whole-home rentals. The march turned into a dirge as the band played "A Closer Walk with Thee" before disbanding at City Hall, where caricatures of New Orleans City Councilmembers lay on the steps.

In August, the New Orleans City Planning Commission (CPC) agreed to prohibit short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods, but commercially zoned areas don't fall under the same restrictions. The City Council will have final say on new short-term rental rules when it votes on the CPC's recommendations on Oct. 6,

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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

New Orleans City Planning Commission votes to ban whole home short-term rentals

Posted By on Tue, Aug 9, 2016 at 10:15 PM

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Whole home rentals in residential neighborhoods are off the table in the short-term rental debate — for now — following the New Orleans City Planning Commission's (CPC) vote unanimously agreeing they should remain illegal. Following months of debate and years of discussion, the CPC approved a framework for short-term rental listings like Airbnb on Aug. 9. The recommendations from the CPC's staff now head to the New Orleans City Council, which could change up the new rules before a final vote — those recommendations are just that.

Following five hours of public comment and an hour of discussion among commissioners, the CPC approved its staff recommendations for three types of short-term rentals and voted to ban the controversial practice of renting out entire homes in residential areas. The CPC rejected those types of rentals earlier this year, but they were put back in play by Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration.

Several New Orleans City Council members have been critical of whole home rentals — District A Councilmember Susan Guidry told Gambit last month they pose "the biggest threat to the quality of life of our long-term residents." Councilmembers Jared Brossett and Stacy Head also expressed concerns about homes used as short-term rentals year-round in residential neighborhoods.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Mayor Landrieu unveils five-year affordable housing plan

Posted By on Tue, Jun 21, 2016 at 7:30 PM

CHERYL GERBER
  • CHERYL GERBER

Mayor Mitch Landrieu's annual "State of the City" speeches chart the city's post-Hurricane Katrina gains and, more importantly, glimpse where his administration is headed to address its shortcomings. Crime, poverty and a crumbling infrastructure always are at the top of that list. In his 2016 address, delivered on the roof of the Broad Street Whole Foods on June 21, Landrieu unveiled two reports: a progress report on the criminal justice program NOLA for Life, and — amid contentious debates over the future of Airbnb, the increasing creep of property developers, gentrification fast tracks, rising rents and deplorable housing conditions, all wrapped in stagnant wages and dwindling jobs — Landrieu teased a five-year plan for more affordable housing in New Orleans.

According to the plan, the city will "build or preserve" 7,500 affordable housing units by 2021 — with 4,000 units available by 2018, followed by an additional 3,500 units.

"People are flocking here, but rising demand and job growth means that housing costs have risen by 50 percent since 2000," Landrieu said in a statement. "Now, due to a broader loss of income-affordable rental units along with low-wage jobs and inadequate public transit, many New Orleanians pay more than 50 percent of their income just on housing costs. That is unacceptable and unsustainable. ... We must ensure that working people do not get priced out of New Orleans — they are the backbone of our City."

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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The "hotelization" of New Orleans: city planners question Airbnb

Posted By on Wed, Jun 15, 2016 at 7:45 PM

Caroline Thomas' Coney Island-style satirical signs in 2015. - PHOTO COURTESY CAROLINE THOMAS
  • PHOTO COURTESY CAROLINE THOMAS
  • Caroline Thomas' Coney Island-style satirical signs in 2015.

Sometime this year, New Orleans will likely begin legalizing short-term rentals, creating some kind of framework for permitting and taxing properties on websites like Airbnb. It's been a long, drawn-out debate among residents feeling the squeeze from increasingly tourist-filled neighborhoods, Airbnb operators trying to make a buck, indecisive city officials and departments, and now hotel operators, who fear not only losing business but the hospitality industry itself, pushed further from the heart of the city, unable to afford it.

And despite continued objections from many residents, the City Planning Commission (CPC) and members of the New Orleans City Council, the city planning staff keeps floating the legalization of renting out entire homes — "principal" residential short-term rentals — per the request of Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration. The CPC's June 14 meeting was set to vote on those staff recommendations for changes to the city's Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance, but the Landrieu administration requested moving the vote. The CPC agreed to move it to Aug. 9, which could mean a vote could come from the City Council, who has the final say on policy, as early as Aug. 11.

A packed crowd inside City Council Chambers on June 14 stuck through several hours of comments, mostly coming from residents from the Garden District and French Quarter and representatives from the city's hotel and tourism industry. Commissioners largely agreed Airbnb's creep could deal a crushing blow to the city if not legislated, enforced or regulated properly. "This is an emotional and complicated issue," said CPC Chair Kyle Wedberg, "This is a hyper-local issue. It happens house by house, block by block, neighbor by neighbor. ... An issue that's not only vital for us to solve but vital for us to get right."

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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Louisiana students rally in Baton Rouge for the "Raise the Age Louisiana Act"

Posted By on Wed, Apr 6, 2016 at 5:49 PM

Carlos Wilson and Jasmine Jeff were two of the students who traveled to the state capitol today in support of state Sen. J.P. Morrell's "Raise the Age Louisiana Act," which would stop the prosecution of 17-year-olds as adults. - DELLA HASSELLE
  • DELLA HASSELLE
  • Carlos Wilson and Jasmine Jeff were two of the students who traveled to the state capitol today in support of state Sen. J.P. Morrell's "Raise the Age Louisiana Act," which would stop the prosecution of 17-year-olds as adults.

In many ways, 17-year-old Carlos Wilson is trying hard to mature into a responsible adult. He has a job, he says, and a one-year old son whom he calls “his pride and joy.”

But he’s constantly reminded that he’s not yet of age to do some adult things. He pays taxes, for instance, but cannot vote to help determine how that money will be spent. And last year, he was unable to sign his own son’s birth certificate, because he was too young.

He also can’t serve on a jury, join the army or buy beer or cigarettes.

Yet if Wilson were to get arrested, he would be sent to an adult lockup, even if charged with a minor offense. That’s because Louisiana is only one of nine states in the country that prosecutes 17-year-olds as if they are adults.

“We as 17-year-olds deserve clarity,” said Wilson, a senior at the New Orleans Charter Science and Math Academy. “Are we adults, or are we still children?”

Wilson has been part of a steering committee for his school that for the past year has been researching the possibility of raising the age in Louisiana for criminal infractions from 17 to 18.

On Wednesday, Wilson traveled with about 300 youth from Lafayette and New Orleans to present his findings during a rally on the steps of the state capitol, and to ask that legislators stop prosecuting 17-year-olds as adults.

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