Potential new amendment could shake up short-term rental vote

Potential new amendment could shake up short-term rental vote

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - City Council must make a decision on two ordinances that would change New Orleans’ zoning laws Thursday (Aug. 8), bringing in new rules for short-term rentals. But, there might be some last minute proposals that could complicate the vote.

After a year of public input and studies, Council member Kristen Gisleson Palmer said she believes the council has a solid, logical approach to short term rentals.

“It’s not going to make everyone happy. But we’re trying to strike a fair and equitable balance,” Gisleson Palmer said. “We’re going to really base the zoning, in terms of short term rentals, where you can have it, where you can’t. So, if it’s a commercial use for residential property, we try to limit them among commercial corridors and commercially zoned properties.”

She said the council is largely on the same page -- everyone must have a permit and temporary short terms rentals utilizing a whole house in residential areas are out.

“That’s really what we’ve heard from a lot of communities and neighborhoods, that’s been the issue, in terms of really impacting their quality of life, and as we’ve also seen, impacting their tax bills, right? Because you’ve had so many folks come in buying a property for higher rates and using them for commercial purposes” Gisleson Palmer said.

In addition to these two bills -- one amending the comprehensive zoning ordinance and the other addressing code updates for enforcement -- Gisleson Palmer’s team said there will likely be several amendments, mostly technical updates, but they don’t expect a lot of push back.

Except for one: A proposal to remove the 25 percent cap on short-term rentals in large scale commercial buildings in the CBD.

“That basically means you could take an entire apartment complex building and turn it into a short-term rental, a de facto hotel, which would basically kill the residential life within the CBD,” Gisleson Palmer said.

Council members said Jason Williams is the main author behind the amendment, but his staff told FOX 8 he’s still debating on whether to propose it.

Andreanecia Morris, executive director of the affordable housing advocate group Housing NOLA, said the proposed ordinances will work, but each amendment must put housing first. Which, she said, the amendment would not.

“We’ve heard rumblings about it. We certainly hope that’s not the case,” Morris said. “We’ve worked really hard to rebuild and change the CBD to make it a place where residents can live. It is a genuine neighborhood.”

With a shortage of affordable housing in the city, Morris said it is essential these new guidelines stay on track.

“We have to make rules that make sense and we have to utilize this resource to address the affordable housing crisis,” she said.

Of the 9,000 short term rentals in the city, 6,000 do not have permits, but are paying taxes, according to Gilbert Mantano, the city’s chief administrative officer. He said there is some concern that by enforcing the short-term rental permitting process, the city may lose out on some of that tax revenue.

But, Gisleson Palmer said she thinks the most important consideration should be based on how it impacts residents, not the city’s bottom line.

“I think any decision we make should really be governed by how is it impacting the citizens in the city," she said. “That should be our first and primary concern. We should not look at this as purely a revenue source because, if we do, we’re just going to be incentivizing short-term rentals at the expense of the folks who live here and that’s not acceptable.”

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