In August 2022, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the New Orleans “homestead exemption” for short-term rentals was unconstitutional. New regulations had to be adopted by the end of March, according to the district court’s ruling. Though housing advocates and many residents have called for a ban on all whole-home STRs, to address the dire—and deadly—housing shortage in New Orleans, the most restrictive legislation proposed was Councilmember Eugene Green’s amendment to limit permits to one per square block. The council passed Green’s amendment, but with an additional amendment from Councilmember Freddie King III, allowing significant exceptions—up to three permits per square block—which could drastically increase the number of legal STRs. Councilmembers Green and Oliver Thomas opposed the amendments. These comments are from meetings on March 2 and March 23.
I want to start by saying that in checking listings in real time here, of the five STR operators here today that we were able to check, three of them are not legal operators… Using publicly available data in the sixth highest volume neighborhoods, there are currently 576 lawfully operating Airbnbs, not including other platforms. Going one per square would be a 37% increase in permits.1Mark S.
I was evicted due to a landlord buying our property and turning it into what I think is an illegal Airbnb. He lives in California and he has his brother running it and living on the other side of the property. I really need you guys to do everything you can to prevent stuff like this from happening.2Isabel B. A.
85% of STRs are whole home rentals. I don’t think that qualifies as “making ends meet.” Over 60% of STR owners have more than one listing. A lot of the people that you see are such a small minority of STR operators, 12.8% of STR operators just have a private room available. So we’re talking about a largely illegal enterprise. I know we talk a lot about crime in this city, but how can you talk about crime when you have this blatant theft of housing? If you took that 85% of whole-home STRs in this city, you could house up to 20,000 people.3Daiquiri J., Jane Place Neighborhood Sustainability Initiative
We’d still like to see a ban on whole home STRs in all of our neighborhoods, like Green said, we want neighbors that we can rely on. Not land speculators who buy properties above asking price, raise our taxes, and evict our neighbors all to make room for bachelor parties… The good news for them is that if you own an entire extra apartment, you’re doing better than the vast majority of us here in this city, and you can bring in income renting to New Orleanians.4Maxwell C., Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center
There are thousands more people than the couple thousand who currently legally operate STRs. You’re here to craft policies and make decisions in the best interest of those residents and neighborhoods. And the decisions that you guys make on this issue has the potential to impact what this city looks like for decades to come.5Veronica R., Jane Place Neighborhood Sustainability Initiative
The square block across from me that has only two residential block faces contains 11 whole house STRs. As of yesterday the status of those permits are expired or denied. Yet the out-of-state license plates show up every weekend. My family has been in this neighborhood for well over a century. The hotelization of my street is wreaking havoc on our aged sewage system, exacerbates our previously existing environmental issues, and is a severe public health issue. I do not understand how 11 STRs can exist on a square block when a tent city of working poor continues to grow under the bridge just blocks away. This Council’s history of genuflecting to the people who come here with a carpetbag and a manifest destiny of exploitation at the expense of the people that built this city is sanctioned violence.6Arsene D., Water Wise
After WWII, Japan suffered a food crisis. The United States provided Japan with wheat flour and encouraged them to bake bread. A man named Momofuku Ando believed the wheat should be made into noodles. Ando saw noodles as part of Japan’s national heritage. So he invented instant ramen noodles. He fought the hunger crisis and created jobs. The New Orleans version of ramen is Yaka mein. We also have talented artists, jazz musicians… These people make New Orleans special, and they are the investment of a lifetime. I agree with today’s regulations but I see them as a false compromise. Every short term rental gained is a neighbor lost. Don’t give us bread, make noodles instead.7Trevor M.
It’s been the honor of my life to work for Mardi Gras Indian gangs in the 9th Ward. Over the 10 years I’ve lived here I’ve traveled farther and farther away to plan out suits and design sticks and rifles. Come Mardi Gras day [they] commute to the neighborhoods and see tourists taking photos, stomping down the streets that they can’t afford to live on anymore.8Henry L.
I want to describe an experience: In my neighborhood in the 8th Ward, walking down the street and seeing a new coat of paint, and feeling your heart just drop in your stomach because you know none of your neighbors can afford to paint their house. You know that’s a new Airbnb. And that is a bad feeling. I want to be excited. I want to see beauty and feel excited, and not sad and scared.9Elizabeth B.
I think this amendment has loopholes I don’t totally understand, where you can get another STR on the block… that doesn’t make any sense to me… There are 83 people that died on the streets and in shelters, and each one of them deserved housing. The people who profit from and are advocates for STRs have a direct role in driving up rents and displacing people.10Lincoln B.
I am concerned for the hospitality workers, of which I am one. NOLA depends heavily on hospitality workers, yet it is as though we are not at all important to the survival and growth of the industry that keeps the lights on in this city. Many people I know who are third, fourth, and fifth generation New Orleanians can no longer afford to live in the city we love. Are you determined to finish what Katrina started? Who and what do you really care about?11Naima G.
My mom is from Honduras, her family moved to New Orleans in the ‘70s. My grandfather was a fisherman, and he was able to afford a home in the 7th Ward. That could never happen today because of Airbnb and gentrification.12Xiomara B.
I am speaking as someone born and raised in the 9th Ward, who has lived all over the city since. I left New Orleans and came back home. This does not feel like home. This is a hostile situation for native New Orleanians. This is something else we are losing. The dysfunction of New Orleans was worth it because of the culture and our way of life, and that is falling through our hands like grains of sand. I need you all to do your part. Please, we are begging you.13Melanie P.
To follow up on this issue, 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.
illustration by Sadie Wiese