City to consider amending short-term rental licenses, property managers concerned

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - New Orleans has one of the more lenient short-term rental policies in the country. Now, a City Council member wants to pull back on the process and revisit how the city grants licenses. Some say that will choke a big money-making business in town.

Tourism is one of the biggest industries in New Orleans. And the owners of Carriage House Concierge say they're purveyors of that.

"You want money to be spent on local tourism, generate local revenue," said Jenna Swain. "Its by your AirBnBs, it's to get people to feel like they belong here."

Jennifer Meserole and Jenna Swain help manage short-term rentals in the city. They say in managing those properties, they're not destroying the integrity of neighborhoods, they're helping improve them.

"The Marigny, the Bywater - these neighborhoods would never have the commerce they have now without that industry, there's no way," Meserole said.

Jason Stearman also manages some properties. He said beyond tourism, there are real people who will be out of jobs if the city passes a moratorium on those licenses.

"I don't know how many jobs - and I'm not just talking high school jobs, I'm talking cleaning ladies that need work, guys that cut the grass," Stearman said.

Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer sponsored the motions. She says the city established zoning laws years ago. If short-term rentals masquerade as commercial businesses within a residential neighborhood, that's a problem.

"The residents are the people who say, 'I've lived in this neighborhood 10, 15 years. I actually chose to move to this neighborhood, I've chosen to raise my family here, and now I have to decide whether I can live here or not,'" Palmer said.

Stearman says his interest is for the people who live, work and visit New Orleans, and the city should have an interest in him.

"They've gave me permission to run my business and now they want to change the rules of the game in the middle, and I think its fundamentally unfair, and I think they're definitely setting themselves up for litigation," he said.

If passed tomorrow, the motions would immediately go into effect. One of the motions would also allow for the city to further study short-term rentals.

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