City Planning Board Recommends Ban on Short-Term Rentals

(Photo by © Ross A Benson)

On Monday, August 23rd at 6 P.M., the Burbank Planning Board convened over Zoom to discuss the issue of short-term rentals in Burbank.

Short-term rentals (STR’s) are living spaces such as homes or additional dwelling units (ADU’s) that are temporarily-leased to people, much like the way hotels function. Most of these short-term rentals are reserved through Airbnb, a large online marketplace in which people can find and rent out properties in residential neighborhoods.

Currently, STR’s remain largely unregulated by the city.

At the start of the meeting, two administrators in the Community Development Department (CDD), Karen Pan and Nick Burant, delivered a PowerPoint presentation regarding short term rentals and their regulation in Burbank.

“It is the recommendation of staff that the Board make a motion that allows for short-term rentals in the city,” said Pan. “This can be done through amending single family and multi-family residential zoning ordinances.”

Prior to the meeting, the CDD conducted extensive research on the potential impact of allowing short-term rentals in Burbank. The Department contacted city officials in the desert cities of La Quinta and Palm Desert in order to hear their experiences of regulating STR’s. Additionally, they conducted a community meeting and two surveys.

Reporting out the data collected in the latest of the two surveys conducted, the CDD administrators reported that a plurality (37%) of surveyed Burbankers thought that short-term rentals should be explicitly banned, with those who would like to see a regulatory program created and those who would like to keep the status quo responding at 33.7% and 29.3% respectively.

After the Powerpoint presentation, there was a period of brief public comment on the issue of short-term rentals.

“We’re in a housing crisis, these short-term rentals take housing resources and directs them towards tourism” said a caller that was in favor of an explicit ban.

Another caller had a much different perspective on the impact of STR’s on housing; “by allowing short-term rentals, the city of Burbank will receive more revenue that can be put towards housing assistance,” said the caller in favor of creating a new regulatory program.

Following the public comment, there was a discussion on the specifics of what a regulatory policy for STR’s could look like in Burbank. The CDD recommended that the number of licenses handed out to short-term renters should be limited to 600 and crafted a steep penalty system consisting of progressively more and more costly fines per violation. The Department also seeks to make it a requirement that a STR host remain on the premises of their property at all times when renters are there.

Furthermore, the regulatory program would include fees and taxes that would go towards paying for program enforcement. An explicit ban would yield no money for the city. The expected cost of enforcement in both cases is $225,000.

Despite the proposals laid out by the CDD, the Board had largely made up it’s mind on the subject of short-term rentals in Burbank.

“Airbnb is stealing from us,” said Board Member Christopher Rizzotti. “They aren’t paying their tax. As a city, we need to protect single-family homeowners.”

Rizzotti additionally referenced the fact that the introduction of short-term rentals in neighborhoods is having a negative impact on housing stock in cities and municipalities all across the United States.

The rest of the Board largely shared the opinion of Rizzotti. Board Member Tammy Heiner commented, “by allowing short-term rentals with these regulations, it’s opening us up to things happening that we don’t want to happen.”

“It’s an unenforceable situation,” said Board Member Bob Monaco. “Airbnb doesn’t answer to us.”

Following the deliberation by the Board, Board Member Rizzotti put forward a motion to recommend that Burbank City Council craft an explicit ban on short-term rentals in Burbank. The motion passed unanimously.

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    1. Thank you, Burbank Planning Board, for protecting our community and the integrity of our laws. Without proper regulation, these STR’s leave our residents at the mercy of those who are just visiting and don’t otherwise care about the things that make this city so special.

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