NEWPORT BEACH, Calif.—The City of Newport Beach voted Dec. 14 during a second reading to adopt a new ordinance that will put more restrictions on short-term rental within the city to address residents’ concerns about noise and parking issues coming from short-term tenants.
A short-term rental is defined by the city as renting a living space for less than 30 days. Available options are commonly listed by homeowners on websites such as Airbnb and Vrbo.
In 2020, the council approved a citywide ordinance, requiring homeowners to apply for a permit in order to rent their places out to short-term tenants. The number of permits the city can issue was capped at 1,550 with a waiting list.
Additionally, the original ordinance also designated a three-night minimum stay and a minimum tenant age of 25, increased penalties for parking violations, and added a complaint hotline for people to report homeowners who operate short-term lodging illegally or violate the rules.
Before the city can implement the ordinance, the California Coastal Commission has to approve it and suggest some modifications at the same time where necessary.
One of the suggestions made by the commission was shortening the required minimum number of nights from three consecutive nights to two, so lower-income families who only want to spend a couple of nights in the city can do so.
In addition, the commission did not want the city’s housing supply to be affected by short-term rentals, so they designated that only 20 percent of apartment units can be rented out to short-term tenants.
All suggestions made by the commission were adopted in the ordinance, which will go into effect Jan. 13, 2022.
“We’ve had a lot of struggles with the coastal commission as long as I’ve been on the council, and we win a few and lose a few, but I think we really impressed the coastal commission that we are intent on serving visitors and our residents alike and driving more permanent residency for people who need homes,” Councilwoman Diane Dixon said during the Nov. 30 meeting, where the new ordinance was first voted on.
Newport Island is also getting its own restrictions, with homeowners saying they have been affected by noise from short-term tenants. In the new rules, the island will be allowed to have only 20 permits, and the homeowner must be present in the house during the stay.
The city has 1,581 permits issued, so before it issues any more, that number will need to naturally drop below the limit of 1,550 before the city draws from its waiting list.
Overall, the city wants to keep residents at the forefront of the issue, but also support its tourism industry.
“I’ve experienced living next to a house that was extremely noisy and rude, and there’s nothing worse than that, because one of the most important things we have is the right to peacefully enjoy our homes without being disturbed, especially in a manner that’s over the top,” then-Mayor Brad Avery said during the Nov. 30 meeting.
On the other hand, Avery also added that this ordinance can be a double-edged sword that also hurts homeowners who follow the rules and promote the city’s tourism in a healthy way.
“This is a blunt instrument that’s being used, and it’s not good for the good operators. I agree. We need to find some way to make some room for folks that own the house, live there, and run a good program.”
He said it is nevertheless necessary for the city to impose the rules now while looking for better ways to “make it work” for everyone.
While the first reading had a 5–2 vote, the second reading on Dec. 14 was 7–0 in favor.