New Orleans council backs strong short-term rental limits

New Orleans council backs strong short-term rental limits

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A ban on "whole home" short-term vacation rentals in residential areas of tourism-dependent New Orleans won unanimous backing Thursday from the City Council.

It was a preliminary vote. A final one is expected in 90 days. But the council made its intention clear, 7-0, a year after imposing a moratorium on new or renewed licenses for rentals of whole homes not occupied by the owner.

Residence owners in most of the city will still be able to rent out part of their home to visitors. But to get a license to do so they will have to show that they have a homestead tax exemption granted by the state to people who own their main residence.

Some building owners and managers opposed the changes, saying they had played by the rules when they invested in their property and were now being penalized. A representative of a cleaning service said fewer short-term rentals would mean fewer jobs.

But council members have been swayed by years of complaints from residents who say short-term rental properties owned by investors have proliferated since the advent of online operations like Airbnb. The result, they say, has been inflated property values and property taxes, and homes occupied only by transients with little interest in neighborhood upkeep. "Every day, I'm cleaning up glass, aluminum, trash from overflowing trash cans," said one resident. "I did not buy my home to be the sheriff of the neighborhood."

Council members also voted Thursday to continue a ban on short-term rentals in all but a small part of the historic French Quarter, and they approved a ban on short-term rentals in another historic area, the Garden District.

Issues involving short term rentals are far from settled. A group called Alliance for Neighborhood Prosperity has filed suit over the city's restrictions. And the council still has to deal with regulations for commercial areas and proposals to require larger scale operations to make provisions for low-income housing.

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