Council still undecided on STRs

By Brett Callwood

At the City Council meeting on the evening of Tuesday, Sept. 27, the council opted not to ban short-term rentals (STRs) outright when a motion by Mayor Pro Tem Paulette Francis didn’t get a second and quickly failed.

But the council’s issues with residents choosing to rent their properties through businesses such as Airbnb continue, and they put the issue on the agenda for November as they await a deep dive of research from Rentalscape. 

Rentalscape, in their words, “provides municipalities who lack insight on the local short-term rental (STR) market, the ability to monitor, discover, triage and inspect local short-term rentals with a higher-level of accuracy, precision and usability. This allows the city to properly regulate rental hosts and ensure compliance in their area.”

Staff pointed out in a presentation that 57 properties in Gardena have a listing on short term rental sites such as Airbnb. The majority of those are single-family homes, and the total amount raised in the past 12 months is $145,541. 18 out of those 57 properties are listed outside of the city, and the average rate is $150 per night. 

Staff suggested some provisions that the council could place on short-term renters, including, “Allow home share only – owner must be present during rental; Limit the type of properties where STRs are allowed, ie single-family homes and duplexes, not apartments; Require that this be the person’s primary residence; Limit the number of STRs one person can have; Limit the number of people per bedroom.”

A few members of the public spoke, most against any sort of ban. One speaker said that Airbnb supplements rent for Afghan and Ukranian refugees, as well as for nurses during COVID. 

But Council Member Rodney Tanaka said that the council needs to consider the entire 60,000 population of Gardena, rather just the (approximately) 60 benefiting from STRs. Tanaka is in favor is strict restrictions and limitations on STRs.

While Francis pointed out that there’s little difference, business-wise, between an STR and a hotel besides STRs being in residential areas, Council Member Wanda Love said that there are many home-based businesses in Gardena. Love also pointed out that the Gardena PD have only received 9 complaints relating to STRs over the last few years, though Tanaka disputed those figures.

Led by Mayor Tasha Cerda, the City Council seems to believe that STRs can change the make-up of a city, because people don’t know who their neighbors are, ruining the small town feel. Love is standing alone defending the rights of the renters to make money.

The issue will be revisited at the first meeting in November when research has been gathered.