- The New Orleans City Council is considering a proposal that would temporarily freeze short-term home rentals — like those through Airbnb — in many areas of the city, the New Orleans Times-Picayune and others report.
- A zoning change introduced by Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer would mean those who own short-term rentals outside of a commercial district including downtown and the French Quarter would not be able to legally rent their homes for at least a year if their license expires and they do not live there.
- The New Orleans Advocate reported a vote on the plan could come as early as Thursday, and it could lead to a permanent ban.
New Orleans is not the first city to wrestle with Airbnb and other short-term rental platforms and the question of how to regulate them. Earlier this year, Detroit implemented a ban on Airbnb in residential zones, then reversed it almost immediately after backlash from city residents and promised to review the relevant city ordinances. Boston also introduced legislation in January to regulate the industry.
This legislative change in New Orleans comes after short-term rentals were legalized in April 2017 by former Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration, who imposed a 90-day rental cap on most residential areas and unlimited rentals in commercial areas. But just months on from an election, there appears to be a new political wind sweeping through the City Council. Of the five new Councilmembers, three ran with platforms that included limiting short-term rentals, having expressed doubts about the city’s enforcement of the rules and raised concerns about the creep of rentals into residential neighborhoods.
New Orleans is a city that has looked to short-term rentals to try and counter a housing crisis and to accommodate the vast swathes of visitors that come each year for festivals like Mardi Gras. Gisleson Palmer’s plan would introduce an interim zoning district that would prevent short-term rental license holders from applying for a renewal.
In a letter to the City Council, Airbnb Policy Director Laura Spanjian called the plan “drastic” and said rentals mean the city does not need to build so many hotels. This proposal threatens Airbnb's previous arrangement with the city — what the company described previously as a “national and international model for the right approach to regulate home-sharing.”