On Thursday the New Orleans City Council voted to change the definition of transient vacation rentals. Proponents say the change will make it easier to enforce the existing laws that prohibit short-term vacation rentals.
Unlicensed short-term rentals are already illegal in New Orleans. But under the current Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance, the definition of a transient vacation rental is unclear and requires proof that the property has been rented for less than 30 days over the course of a year, making the ordinance as it stands nearly impossible to enforce. The amendment approved in yesterday’s council meeting removes the one-year requirement, and clarifies the definition of transient vacation rental.
Proponents of the change say the vote indicates the council’s commitment to crack down on unlicensed short term rentals, but are aware that it’s only one small step in the right direction. Bonnie Rabe is the president of the Professional Inkeepers Association of New Orleans.
"I would be very optimistic if I said I thought this would affect the city’s enforcement," she says. "This puts it on the records and this makes it where, hopefully, we’ll be able to talk and iron rules that we can all live by."
Those opposed to the text amendment were not dissuaded by the vote. The Alliance for Neighborhood Prosperity is a group of short-term rental operators who think that vacation rentals should be legal and regulated. Bob Ellis, an attorney for the group, agrees that this vote won’t change much.
"I don’t think the vote today hurts or hampers the short term rental initiative at all," he says. "I mean, all they did was clarify a definition. It doesn’t help enforcement; it’s not gonna stop short term rentals."
The ANP plans to submit a draft ordinance outlining a plan for legalized short term rentals to the council later this year.