California counties and cities restrict Airbnbs due to tourism pandemic

San Bernardino County officials temporarily stopped issuing permits last month for new Airbnbs and other vacation rentals, fearing a to...


San Bernardino County officials temporarily stopped issuing permits last month for new Airbnbs and other vacation rentals, fearing a tourism boom makes locals pay in hip desert getaways like Joshua Tree.

Marin County officials instituted a two-year moratorium this year on new short-term rentals in its western coastal communities. San Diego too approved a ceiling which is expected to nearly halve vacation rentals in the city.

Restrictions on home-sharing services in California are nothing new. santa monica, Sausalito and San Francisco, where Airbnb is based, have had such regulations for years.

But local officials in the Golden State appear to be increasingly reviewing those rules after demand for short-term rentals exploded during the pandemic and Americans have chosen to rent homes instead of hotels to ensure Covid bubbles or to have more space for remote work and relaxation.

Limits on short-term rentals, generally defined as a stay of 30 days or less, are often touted as a way to maintain affordable housing in California. It is a noble cause in a state that has painfully high rents and home to more than half of the country’s homeless population.

“The long-term housing shortage, especially on the coast, has reached a crisis point,” said Dennis Rodoni, a Marin County Supervisor who represents the Marin Coast, according to CBS News. “More and more working families are displaced.”

But the idea that a proliferation of short-term rentals leads to higher rents for people looking for permanent accommodation is only partly true, experts told me.

In tourist areas, such as Joshua Tree and Venice Beach, some homes and apartments that were previously rented for a year at a time have likely been converted to short-term rentals. This change may limit the number of long-term rentals available and make it difficult for residents to stay in the communities where they work and where their children go to school.

“It’s a story of supply and demand,” said Richard K. Green, a professor at the University of Southern California and director of the school’s Lusk Center for Real Estate.

But Green warned it was unclear how many short-term rentals were actually being let to local residents. Many short-term rentals listed on sites like Airbnb may have always been vacation rentals, but weren’t as easily accessible or centralized before these online platforms emerged, he said. Others might be locals making extra money by renting out a room in their house or, when out of town, the whole space.

Banning home-sharing services might “actually prevent some people from being able to afford to live in certain places,” Green told me.

In reality, restrictions on short-term rentals are often aimed less at creating affordable housing than at preserving the culture of cities, experts say. People don’t want their residential streets lined with visiting or tourist cars that change the feel of their neighborhoods.

In Stinson Beach, one of the communities in Marin where new Airbnbs are now banned, residents are concerned about “the transition from a once-hippie, beach town to an exclusive seaside playground.” The San Francisco Chronicle recently reported.

Indeed, the very communities that strictly limit short-term rentals are often the same ones that don’t want to create more housing in their communities, experts say.

If their main concern was affordability for renters, “there is a solution to that: build more housing,” said Michael Manville, associate professor of urban planning at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

“If you think the available supply is influencing the price tenants face, the surest way to fix it is to build apartments,” Manville told me. “The more uncertain path is to limit short-term rentals.”

This may be possible in urban hotspots. But in some affected resort areas, it is not necessarily easy to build much more housing.

At Stinson Beach, nestled between the ocean and steep hills, additional development is constrained by coastal protections and a lack of space to build.

In Joshua Tree, conservationists fear development could threaten the western Joshua Trees themselves. They are pushing to permanently protect the trees as an endangered species, which would make construction more difficult. And because tourism demand is so high, investors are seeing greater returns from building short-term rentals than other types of housing.

For more:


Governor Gavin Newsom is about to sign legislation this would provide a minimum compensation of $10,000 to residents who successfully sue illegal gun makers.

Grilled chicken thighs with spiced cashews.


Today’s tip comes from Mary Ann Mitchell, who lives in Folsom. Mary Ann recommends Point Cabrillo Lighthouse State Historic Park in Mendocino:

“When you arrive, you can walk the paths along the coastline. My husband and I enjoy watching the various seabirds soar overhead. Sea lions sun themselves on the rocks as the waves crash around them. The jewel of this park is the lighthouse. There’s a small gift shop and museum to explore, and the people working inside provide plenty of history. There are also three former lighthouse keepers’ houses on the site. Two can be rented and one is a museum. It’s so interesting to see how the lighthouse keepers lived. There are a few picnic tables near the lighthouse and entrance. Both make great places for a snack or lunch. It is a place to recharge our batteries. It’s incredible.”

Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Send your suggestions to CAtoday@nytimes.com. We will share more in future editions of the newsletter.


As water restrictions wreak havoc in Southern California, tell us: What’s going on with your lawn? Are you trying to keep your grass green? Or has the drought caused you to pull your grass?

Let us know at CAtoday@nytimes.com. Please include your name and location.


When Mark Nicco decided it was time to sell his bar in San Francisco, he wanted to find someone who would carry on his family’s legacy.

The property in North Beach, the heart of the city’s Italian community, was first purchased by Nicco’s grandfather in the 1920s. He opened a dry cleaning business there and, after the end of prohibition, a cafe that served alcohol.

Now it’s Tony Nik’s, a low-key bar that Nicco has run for 21 years. He understands his business isn’t like the loud nightclubs and music venues that are common in North Beach, he said.

“I think we are overturning that reputation,” Nicco told SFGate. “Once people discover us, they see how different we are.”

So Nicco decided to give his bar to someone who would help keep it as it was. Earlier this month, he handed over the keys to one of the longtime bartenders.

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Newsrust - US Top News: California counties and cities restrict Airbnbs due to tourism pandemic
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