Updated Feb 21, 6:07 PM; Posted Feb 21, 1:35 PM
By Drew Broach
email@example.com, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
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Jefferson Parish's proposed short-term rental restrictions were made even more restrictive before the Parish Council approved them Wednesday (Feb. 21). With no dissenting votes, the council banned the practice in most of Louisiana's second most populous parish, all but commercial and mixed-use zoning districts and in its six municipalities.
Even in commercial areas of unincorporated Jefferson, short-term rentals are forbidden within 300 feet of a residential zone, under an amendment approved before the overall vote. That gives owners of single-family detached houses a cushion against what many of them consider to be an inappropriate operation of a business near their residences.
The ordinance represents Jefferson's first comprehensive attempt to regulate an expanding business segment popularized by such websites as Airbnb and HomeAway. It grew out of a two-year study and outreach efforts by the Planning Department.
· Read the Planning Department's report.
In many respects, Jefferson is a classic post-World War II suburban colony where single-family houses predominate and their owners recoil at intrusion by businesses or apartments. But as in jurisdictions across the United States, some owners have started renting their houses, or rooms in their houses, for fewer than 30 days to make an extra buck.
That's prompted fears and, in some cases, specific complaints from neighbors about noise, traffic and garbage. "There are a lot of irresponsible people out there. All they see is money," said Al Morella of Kenner.
Dozens of owners already advertise short-term rentals in Jefferson Parish, many of them in residential zones where they may continue operating for 12 months. Short-term rentals in the allowed commercial and mixed-use zones have six months to comply with the law, which requires a $750 license, subjects them to background checks and site inspections and levies sales tax on rentals.
Jim Young of the Bissonet Civic Association in Metairie, questioned the 12-month phase-out for newly illegal rentals. He said owners might wait until the last day to sue over the restrictions, tying up the dispute in court and continuing to operate while awaiting a ruling.
Councilman Chris Roberts suggested giving these property owners a choice: They waive their right to sue in 12 months, or the parish enforces the law immediately. Parish attorney Mike Power, however, counseled that judges don't necessarily block enforcement while a suit is pending.
Two people spoke against the ordinance. One of them, Jonathan Perrow, who said he owns rental property in Metairie, urged further deliberations. He suggested the answer to noise, traffic and garbage problems is to enforce existing laws addressing those issues, not necessarily to adopt the 24-page short-term rental ordinance.
But Councilwoman Cynthia Lee-Sheng said there was some urgency to approve the law Wednesday, 12 months and 12 days before 2019's big short-term rental period peaks on March 5.
"If we pass this law today," she said, "Mardi Gras next year is off limits."