Dec 152017

District B City Councilman Jay H. Banks speaks while Faubourg Delachaise Neighborhood Association president Debby Pigman listens on Thursday, Dec. 14. (Robert Morris,

As he continues to meet constituents on his way into the District B City Council office, Jay H. Banks recently heard what he calls a “horror story” about the proliferation of AirBnB in Uptown neighborhoods.

A woman who lives Uptown told him that she now has whole-home short-term rentals on either side of her house. She regrets the loss of permanent neighbors but generally tries to make do, until recently the house on one side of her was booked for a bachelor party, while the house on the other side was booked by an unrelated bachelorette party the same weekend.

That coincidence, Banks said, led to an easily predictable conclusion.

“It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that boys and girls like each other. So eventually what happened? The party ends up in the street,” Banks told the Faubourg Delachaise Neighborhood Association at their quarterly meeting Thursday. The woman couldn’t get the police to come, so she endured the noise all night, Banks said.

“That was the frustrating part,” Banks continued. “The disgusting part was, it looked like Mardi Gras out there after the party, with nobody responsible for picking it up other than her. The landlords of those properties, they’re not here. It doesn’t affect them. They got their money wired to them in their Paypal and they could not care less. That is a problem for me.”

Banks was already critical of the value of whole-home short-term rentals on the campaign trail, but now that he has been elected, he continues to hear more anecdotes like that one that convince him that the law needs to be changed, he said. Specifically, Banks said he is part of a growing chorus on the incoming New Orleans City Council that believes all residential short-term rentals should be restricted to homes where the owners live on the premises.

When the City Council legalized the use of short-term rental platforms like AirBnB last year, they created several different categories. To rent out part of a home, such as a guest room or half of a double, requires the property owner to have a homestead exemption — essentially requiring them to live on a site — but anyone can rent out a whole home for up to 90 days per year, even if they don’t live there.

Critics of short-term rentals have said that a quarter of the year — or essentially every weekend — is often lucrative enough for property owners to use houses they own exclusively as short-term rentals, weakening neighborhoods and reducing the long-term housing stock. During the legalization debate, District D Councilman Jared Brossett had sought to require homestead exemptions for that category as well, but only he and Councilwoman Susan Guidry voted for the proposal and it did not become part of the original law.

Over the past year’s Council elections, however, many candidates essentially pointed to Brossett’s amendment as what should have been done in the first place, and in several district-level races, the candidates in favor of such a tightening on AirBnB were those who won. Two weeks ago, incoming District A Councilman Joe Giarrusso III predicted that a majority of the new council now supports such a revision, and will see it as a legislative change they can make quickly while delving into longer-term problems like drainage and crime.

When Banks arrived at the Faubourg Delachaise meeting on Thursday evening, the association was already in the middle of a full-blown discussion of the short-term rental issue. The association had led opposition to a rezoning request at Louisiana and Constance, saying the plan for an ice-cream parlor was simply a “front” for more short-term rentals, and association members said the problem is growing ever further Uptown.

“The question is, where is the tipping point?” said association president Debby Pigman. “We’re in a neighborhood that is very attractive to people to come because you can walk to Magazine Street, you can go downtown, so people are buying houses and redoing them and turning them into short-term rentals.”

Echo Olander, whose home on Constance Street hosted the association’s meeting Thursday, said that she has counted 15 homes on her block, and four of them are now regularly listed short-term rentals, with a fifth house seeming to show signs of it as well. That would be fully a third of the houses on her block operating as hotels, she said, not in the celebrated tourist districts downtown, but in a traditionally residential neighborhood off Magazine Street.

In the past, some of the same neighbors who lived in the homes that are now on AirBnB would bring in each other’s trash cans or alert each other to move their cars if a storm was bringing some street flooding.

“We have a neighborhood where we know our neighbors, and you miss that,” Olander said. “It’s like walking out a hotel door; every day, there’s a new person there.”

Banks said the proliferation of short-term rentals is also exacerbating the shortage of affordable housing for the city’s workers. In one apartment building near his office at the Dryades YMCA on O.C. Haley, his staff members used to rent apartments for $500 a month. As the street developed, their rent rose to $800 — but now, the same units are listed for $1,800 per month, but they are in actuality being used as short-term rentals instead, Banks said.

“There’s nobody living there. Every other day you go out and there’s different cars in the parking lot,” Banks said. “It is a mini hotel in the heart of a neighborhood. They’re making mad money — I get that. But we’ve got to be mindful of the people who live here.”

For those reasons, Banks said he is “vehemently opposed” to short-term rentals by absentee landlords. The exception to that, he said, and what he supports, is individual home owners renting out part of their home while they are on the premises, so they can be responsible for what goes on and so the housing stock is retained.

“I think the homestead exemption ought to be the criteria to get the license,” Banks said. “I think you ought to have some vested interest in the neighborhood before you can get it.”

After the meeting, Olander said she was unaware her incoming councilman had adopted such a strong position on tightening short-term rentals, but was encouraged by his comments.

“It’s a critical issue for our community, I think,” Olander said. “If my neighbor wants to rent out half of their place, that’s fine, because they’re still there. If anything goes awry, they’re still there. There’s a person connected to the space. That makes it a neighborhood, not a hotel.”

  • Dusk Lipton

    Homestead exemption requirement: Is the City Council going to monitor compliance with this requirement like they did with the reports that the Sewerage & Water Department was supposed to submit every three months. The Sewerage & Water Department submitted NO reports and the City Council NEVER complained or even noticed.

  • ultimateliberal

    An investor with six properties across the street from me is operating six B&Bs, all adjacent to one another. I made the stupid mistake twice, crossing the street to meet my “new neighbors,” only to be told, “Oh, we’re here only for the weekend.”

    It seems that he is now trying to get a long-term tenant for at least one of the units.

    And are all of these locations around the city actually paying hotel taxes and doing their laundry according to the health code?

    • Ernie West

      Help me understand your position please. Do you want a new law that precludes rentals so you won’t make that mistake a third time? Or maybe you want a new law to disallow all rentals because you think some may not be paying their taxes? Or maybe a new law to disallow all rentals because some are not following the rules and washing their sheets. How about we collect taxes? If someone does not pay, seize the property. How about we let the market decide if sheets are washed? I don’t stay in sleezy hotels, others might. Now it’s easier than ever to find out, read the peer reviews. New technology allows even more efficient markets. Frees up government to focus elsewhere, like collecting taxes instead of telling me I can’t lease out my property and pay taxes. I am paying taxes, but if this keeps up, I will pay them elsewhere.

      • ChuckNoland

        More Strawmen than an county in Iowa.

      • ultimateliberal

        I don’t want short-term rentals in my neighborhood. Simple.

      • Tim9lives

        I want the City Council to get their priorities in order. I want a police force with enough man power to respond to my call when I call 911 at 2:AM because my neighbor is having a block party with LOUD music blaring and keeping all of my other neighbors awake. And I want the drainage pumps to work.

        • Ernie West

          Me too. Let’s insist

  • Ernie West

    Maybe the answer is laws to hold people accountable for littering And loitering. Why should renting be illegal? Sort term or otherwise? If someone litters or makes noise, arrest them and fine them. What’s wrong with enforcing the laws we have. Must you make a law to prevent violation of another law? Seems kinda silly. Strap on a pair and tell those aholes to be quiet and don’t litter. I want the option to lease my property and be responsible about it. Why do we let a few aholes ruin the opportunity for all of us. I love the city. But if you keep raising taxes and charging $350 for a brake tag violation, you either have to let me recoup or I am going to move and take my money and tax dollars with me and leave the city to finance it’s future by collecting a few pennies from the few indigent people that remain.

    • boathead12

      What’s your angle Mr. West? You fill a lot of space here with Red Herrings. Do you actually not understand residents complaints about these AirBNB guests diminishing their quality of life? Knowing the history of this argument as I do, my first guess is that your are a shill for the STR industry. Do you get paid for these distracting comments?

      • Ernie West

        I can get paid? Who?

    • will_k2

      Mr. West,
      When your neighbors to “strap on a pair,” pick up STR tenants’ trash and others work to maintain a safe and attractive neighborhood that you then profit from without contributing to, that makes you a big ‘ol freeloader. Taking your tax dollars and going somewhere else isn’t a threat, it’s precisely what your neighbors are asking you to do, because you are an undesirable parasite.

  • Ernie West

    so let me get this straight. It’s s illegal to make noise, loiter and litter. You don’t want to enforce that, so we are going to make another law prohibiting short term rental. Problem solved? Are short renters the only litterers? Let’s just outlaw tourists. Or maybe you want all tourists to stay in the French quarter where we tax them so we can pay for sweepers. Lumping me in with littering tourists are you? I think I’ll just vacation elsewhere. I have an idea. Let’s make the city attractive to all kinds. Let’s setup zones in the city where we divide drunk tourists from law abiding tourists. We can tax the drunks. It’s easy, just tax liquor, then instead of using the tax money to ignore 911 calls, use the tax money to respond, thereby keeping drunks out of non drunk zones.

  • Ernie West

    License? Ha! What a joke. Can’t police litterers and noise makers. Are you really going to police non license holders? Probably will. Cuz that’s what we do, tax those with money, let the litterers litter for free. Can’t beat em, so I think I’ll join em, I think I’ll litter and make noise, and keep my investments elsewhere. Come on people, let’s get this city together and insist on reasonable solutions. Let’s not throw up our hands and make excuses that we can’t control our government. We are the government. Don’t make new laws that hamper law abiding citizens. Insist that law breakers, yes even law breaking tourists stay home. It’s all about expectations. Let’s not expect tourists to piss on us. Make them Behave. We can live with tourists if we insist that our government require them to behave. Until we set the expectation otherwise, tourists will come her specifically to cut loose, cuz we let them. That’s our brand. You wanna change the brand? Let’s do that. I am all about it. If not, don’t tell me I can’t rent to pissers.

    • ChuckNoland

      We can tell that you contribute to destroying neighborhoods with your short term rentals. And it looks like you created this account just to comment, or sorry, rant, about your right to make more money and stick it to the rest of us.

  • Tim9lives

    These short term rentals are destroying “quality of life” for Orleans Parish residents. It’s a mess yet one more example of how Orleans Parish residents are getting screwed. Taxation, fees, traffic cameras all bleeding us dry while it’s painfully apparent that those running this city just don’t really care about us. Lack of a fully manned police force plus a non-functioning Water Board only adds more pain to a festering wound.

  • Scott Eustis

    Pass it and fine ’em. use it to displace traffic ticket and parking revenue….