On January 5 and 10, the New Orleans City Planning Commission held two sessions open to public comment before issuing new recommendations for Short Term Rental (STR) regulation. In August 2022, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the New Orleans “homestead exemption” was unconstitutional. Passed in 2019, the homestead exemption stated that whole-home STRs must be owner occupied, or that the owner must live on the property in a separate unit. New regulations must be adopted by the end of March, according to the district court’s ruling. In response, the housing advocacy and community land trust non-profit Jane Place Neighborhood Sustainability Initiative is calling for a ban on all whole-home STRs, to address the dire—and deadly—housing shortage in New Orleans. According to Inside Airbnb, a watchdog group, as of January 19 there were 6,927 Airbnbs in New Orleans. 85.9% are whole-home rentals, and 63.9% of “hosts” have more than one listing on the site. The following are public comments from the January 5 and 10 sessions.
I’ve encountered wide support for a complete ban [on STR licensing]. Neighborhoods should consider bans and densities, not the city. It’s our neighborhoods, we should decide how many, or if they’re banned entirely. We need much tighter regulation, and that would increase the availability of rentals. Everybody I’ve talked to says there needs to be much stricter enforcement with high fines.1Jim
I don’t see STRs providing any benefits to neighborhoods and I don’t know anyone who wants to live next to one. They hollowed out historically Black neighborhoods and supercharged gentrification. The operators who actually live here and have followed the rules are a tiny, though loud minority when compared to the rest of us, and they have another perfectly profitable option: Rent a long term residence and collect the skyrocketing rents that have increased more than 20 percent in the last year. We should designate the CBD a resort zone and not allow STRs anywhere outside of it, unless they are part of an affordable housing development.2Maxwell
As a long-time advocate for the local service industry, I have watched STR regulation for years, and [the] discussion, and [in] effect, while we may have a shortage of hotel rooms to meet demand, especially during large events, I fail to see how any homeowner can in good faith argue that their STR should be governed differently from traditional hotels. For example, if I cater an event away from a brick and mortar restaurant, I’m subject to the same health and safety codes, and then some. How can a good faith argument be made that less regulated STRs represent anything but an unfair playing field… investment carries risk.3Mark
The homestead isn’t just about rowdiness. Rowdiness can be handled. The issue is the artificial driving up of property taxes on long-term residents, combined with STRs eating up community resources and pushing people out of the communities they love. How do we prevent that from happening?4Andrew
Is there compensation for participating?5Andrew
Answered by meeting host Stephen Mosgrove: I would say ‘no, it’s priceless.’
On January 18, the New Orleans City Council held a special session to address the issue of violent crime. Measures proposed by the Council included adding seats to New Orleans’ summer youth employment program, distributing gun safes and locks to address the persistent issue of guns being stolen from cars, enforcing an existing youth curfew, and working with the New Orleans Health Department to “develop a violence intervention model.” The meeting lasted over six hours, included several bouts of yelling back and forth between the constituents and their representatives, one person being led away in handcuffs, and several calls to prayer. Comments ranged from admonitions on the state of New Orleans’ schools, infrastructure, and incarceration rates, to a call to spend the City’s funds on youth programming and recreation.
This is a nationwide epidemic, this is not just New Orleans. And you’re trying to give the children more time for the crime! You got a 16-year-old, did a carjacking and they gave him 65 years. 65 years! He’ll be elderly by the time he gets out. You don’t care about the children, you care about the crime. You’re not trying to solve the problem, you’re trying to get reelected. Change your mindset! It’s not about your election and your political power, it’s what you do with it!6Ted
These children don’t have an outlet. Speaking as a parent… yes it is on the parents, but when you reach out for help, where’s the help? I have a daughter who’s in the criminal system right now fighting for her life… in the 90s I was wildin’ out and you know what changed me? What was a pivoting point in my life? Ernestine Gray at New Orleans Adolescent Hospital. NOAH changed my life as a child. Where are the facilities? The children need facilities, mental health facilities, not just jail.7Latonya
I think what is needed is for this council and people who have the knowledge and commitment to work with youth. Such a group: the New Orleans Association of Black Social Workers. That’s who I’m here with… Please know that if you call on us we will be there. I worked with every one of the juvenile hospitals and I can tell you that the need is still there, even if the facilities are not.8X.
The questions that I have for you all is: What are you going to do about the real conditions that create so-called criminals? What are we going to do to make sure that we have the conditions so that our kids can exist and grow up to be contributing members of society? What we need and what the community is demanding is to feel safe in their homes… the real crime is the condition that our people are forced to live in in this racist capitalist society. That’s what I would like you to address.9Malcolm
It’s important for us to remember that crime comes out of the result of identifying activities that you decide to create laws around so that you can criminalize people. And that’s what crime is. So as long as we’re targeting activities that have laws attached to them so you can target particular people, we will continually be focusing on crime, which results in criminalizing people. The majority of the people in this city are Black. And the discussion of crime is not the same as a discussion about safety. Because if we were serious about safety we would ensure families have what they need on the front end, rather than arrest them and throw them in jail on the back end.10Angela
To follow up on these issues, you can email your City councilmembers. To submit a public comment, follow instructions at council.nola.gov. Interested in reading all comments after a meeting? You can email your councilmember or file a public records request.
illustrations by Sadie Wiese