The New Orleans City Council could vote this week to temporarily halt the issuance of new licenses for short-term rentals of entire homes and bar the renewal of those licenses in residential areas until it decides whether to overhaul the long-term rules that legalized such rentals last year.Or maybe it's just that shutting things down "until we figure out what is going on" is a standard move in the Trump era. Either way, it looks like that's what we're doing. Sort of.
Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer, who returned to the council this month after a four-year absence, has drafted a measure to “push pause” on some short-term rental licenses and plans to put it to a council vote Thursday.
What Palmer is proposing here is an Interim Zoning District that freezes the issuance of certain types of STR licenses in certain areas for a certain period of time. Because those licenses don't expire all at once, though, this means that many or possibly most of them will continue to operate through a substantial part of the "pause" period. In other words, don't expect this action to suddenly shut down every Airbnb on your block.
Meanwhile she's effectively pushing back the timeline on getting to a more permanent solution. The other part of the motion extends the scope of a "study" aimed at revising the STR ordinance thus also delaying the possibility of action from the summer on back toward the end of the year.
There is a risk that such a delay moves us further from the political mandate on this issue generated by the recent elections and thus dampens momentum toward the tougher restrictions voters clearly demanded. One would hope that momentum could carry through but it is concerning to read that some councilmembers are already starting to talk more about "balance" and acceptance of things that "aren't going away" while speaking in support of this measure.
“We understand that there are competing interests here,” said Councilman Joe Giarrusso, one of the co-sponsors. “We’re trying to balance something here that we know is not going away with making sure that quality of life for people who live here is at its highest.”It would be a shame if that "pause" turns out to be a prelude to a full stop. But don't discount the possibility that that's where we are headed.