Short Term Rentals Again, Still

re: Item 1, Second Reading of Short Term Rentals Law

Berkeley Tenants Union letter to City Council

February 14, 2017

Berkeley Tenants Union members have spent countless hours waiting to address the City Council in the past several years to deliver our message: in order to protect our rental housing stock, Council should only ease the ban on Short Term Rentals (STRs) a little bit at a time. We have been asking City Council for years to please JUST allow renters and owners to rent THEIR OWN HOMES for the short term, and move on to enforcing the existing ban on other STRs as soon as possible.

We remind you that the ban on renting for less than 14 days was created to make sure there was not an easy way around rent control protections.

We remind you that all permanent housing – even housing that is not rent controlled – contributes to the diversity and affordability of Berkeley.

Some people say they want a compromise; allowing short term rentals for unlimited days when the owner is present WAS a compromise — those rooms could ALSO be used for students and other permanent residents.
 We join the Rent Board in asking Council to please change the language in Section 23C.22.020D  – BTU has always asked that Council not allow rentals for less than 14 days in any whole unit that could be used for people who live and work in Berkeley. Berkeley Tenants need you to preserve all existing housing for residents, and to create new housing. We do not want new accessory dwelling units (ADUs) to be used as vacation rentals – we worked hard to get that into the initial Council referral for the ADU law many years ago – but it did not get put into that final draft. Berkeley Tenants have always asked that Council not allow STRs in any existing in-laws, or even converted garages – if they have a kitchen. It doesn’t matter if someone bought it last week, wants to use it for their nanny, father or second cousin. Berkeley people need that housing!

We are very concerned that Section 23C.22.020D will encourage new owners to evict long term tenants.

BTU members have also been consistent in our other message — simple laws make for better enforcement. Allowing some ADUs to be short term rentals but not others will be confusing for owners as well as adding an additional layer, and thus additional costs, for enforcement.

We did not send people to the Council meeting on January 24th because we thought that the leaders we worked so hard to get elected this fall had heard our pleas. We are not asking members to come out on Tuesday for the same reason – we expect you to preserve housing and create new housing, not establish new hotel rooms.

Please don’t let us down!
 
New York Gives First Fines to Owners
“Cames was described by the city council as a broker who bought a Brooklyn brownstone for $2m in 2015, and then rented five apartments inside it via Airbnb. She was fined $1,000 for each apartment.”
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/feb/12/airbnb-hosts-new-york-fines-government-illegal
Barcelona First City to Fine Airbnb
“Airbnb’s business in the city has almost doubled in two years, rising to 20,000 listings from 11,000 in 2014….Even so, its rapid growth has aggravated city authorities who slapped a 600,000-euro ($644,160) fine on Airbnb in November for advertising what they deemed to be illegal room rentals, becoming the first city to do so.”
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-02-08/barcelona-rejects-airbnb-plan-to-limit-rentals-in-fresh-clash
There But For Fortune
“Clearly, cities with a much longer history of tourism than Charleston have concluded that there is such a thing as too much. In October, Barcelona residents rated tourist numbers as second only to unemployment as the city’s biggest problem. The problem there, which is an increasing problem in Charleston too, is that those tourists are driving up the cost of renting apartments for residents in the city.”
http://www.postandcourier.com/opinion/editorials/take-a-tip-from-barcelona/article_82aebb12-e7ef-11e6-8ca7-b7e9e53783b1.html
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