NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - There was a packed house at City Hall on Tuesday as a council commission tried to make sense out of rules governing online home rentals.
If there was ever any doubt about how many people care about the airbnb issue, it was dispelled as 500 people - those wearing white in favor of airbnb, and those in red opposed - jammed the council chambers.
The city Planning Commission is attempting to put together rules to govern an industry that includes hundreds of rentals that go largely unregulated. They recommend setting up four categories of residential rentals, including parts of homes or whole homes short and long term.
Dozens spoke out for and against.
"Now, 90 percent of my production," said rental owner Christian Galvan. "I rely on short-term rentals and I increase the quality of my neighborhood and regular housing stock."
"We don't have issues with accessory use as long as its owner-occupied," said Mavis Early with the New Orleans Hotel and Lodging Association. "Renting out principal residences we have a problem with."
The new proposals set up a taxing structure for short-term rentals similar to the hotel tax structure.
But many question whether the city will be able to adequately enforce new rules for an estimated 4,000 rental property owners whose numbers are growing. They also propose new rental density regulations of no more than two whole-house airbnbs per block.
The public comment period was ongoing as of 6 p.m. It will be followed by a vote.