5 things to know: New Orleans proposed short-term rental law

Posted on: June 13 2016

By Robert McClendon, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

A formalized proposal to legalize Airbnb-style rentals in New Orleans could face it first vote Tuesday (June 14). 

NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune will be in the City Council auditorium to cover the City Planning Commission's meeting live when it begins at 1:30 p.m.

Here's a primer on the regulations up for consideration and what they means for the city.

What kind of short-term rental would be legal and where? 

The city's planning staff breaks short-term rentals into four categories.

Accessory -- Owner-occupied dwelling rents out up to two spare bedrooms or, when renting half of a shotgun double, three bedrooms. Allowed in nearly all neighborhoods without special approval from the City Council.
 
Temporary -- Renting out a whole dwelling up to 30 days in a year, during Mardi Gras or another special event for example. Allowed in any neighborhood without special approval from City Council.
 
Principal Residential -- Renting out an entire dwelling in a residential neighborhood, essentially transforming what would otherwise be a long-term rental or owner-occupied residence into a vacation home. Allowed in residential neighborhoods as a "conditional use," meaning the City Council would have to grant special permission.
 
Commercial -- A vacation home or condominium rented out short-term. Allowed only in mixed-use developments such as the proposed Holy Cross project or in commercial districts. May require special permission from the City Council, depending on the zoning designation.
 
Rentals in all proposed categories would require a license from the city's Department of Safety and Permits, whether or not they need special approval from the City Council.
 
Short-term Rental Types.png                                                                        This chart shows the different kind of short-term rentals under consideration and how they would be regulated.
 
How many would be allowed per block?
 
Only Principal Residential short-term rentals would be subject to an explicit density limitation, and the limits vary depending on the neighborhood. They would be limited to no more than two per "blockface" regardless of the neighborhood, and four per "square" in "historic core" neighborhoods, three per "square" in historic urban neighborhoods and two per square in suburban neighborhoods.
 
Short-term Rental Density.pngShort-term rental density restrictions 
 

In practice, this means that, if you were to walk the length of one block, you might pass four short-term rentals, two on each side of the street. Within the circumference of the block, there might be four, three or two, depending on the neighborhood type.

Short-term rental neighborhood.pngPrincipal-short-term rentals would be subject to density restrictions depending on the neighborhood.  

Didn't the City Planning Commission already vote on this? 

Sort of. The commission voted to recommend a regulatory framework. In order to implement that framework, the commission must recommend a formal amendment to the comprehensive zoning code, the set of rules that governs what people can do with their property.

In recommending the regulatory framework majority of the commissioners voted against legalizing principal-residential rentals. However, the City Council, at the request of Mayor Mitch Landrieu, then asked the commission draft a set of amendments codifying the planning staff's initial recommendation, which included them. 

How did the previous commission vote shake out?

The commission voted 5-2 to bar principal-residential short-term rentals.

Yeas: Kelly Brown, Charles Allen, Nolan Marshall III, Alexandra Mora, Robert Steeg. Nays: Kyle Wedberg, Royce Duplessis.

Does the commission's vote matter? 

The City Council has the ultimate say. If a majority of the commissioners again vote against principal-residential rentals, it could put some political pressure on the council members.