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Hourly Home Rentals Planned by City Council

Apr 01, 2019 07:27AM ● By DigMB Staff
Editor's Note: Happy April Fool's Day! Thanks for playing along with our annual tradition.

After local homeowners pushed back on city restrictions banning "short-term" rentals, a new City Council majority favors going in a new direction: Hourly rentals for local homes.

"If we're going to regulate rentals, we may as well offer as many options as we can," said one insider familiar with the behind-the-scenes deliberations among council members, local property investors and online travel firms.

In preparation, city staff has been evaluating a smartphone app, HourHome, which helps homeowners match up immediately to customers who want to use their properties for as little as an hour, or a quick overnight. The app automatically collects occupancy taxes for cities and transfers the funds directly, making it an emerging civic favorite.

Locally, both Venice and Huntington Beach already have begun trial runs with HourHome.

If the new council has its way, Manhattan Beach would initially begin with a 2-hour rental minimum as a test.

"Think about how much fun it would be to host a happy hour on a walkstreet, or a dinner party in a huge Hill Section house," said the insider. "People will pay for that privilege, and the hosts will pay the city. Neighbors would hardly notice, and the visit would soon be over."

Beyond events, supporters of the hourly rentals point out the pure joy of offering a brief experience, to "see how the other half lives." They say it would be popular.

"To sit on the top deck of a Strand house, sipping wine as the sun goes down," muses one supporter, "then, you know, maybe take a shower and go back to your real home. That's something a lot of people would like to do."

"Would you pay a few hundred bucks? We think people will," said the advocate, who owns a small walkstreet home near downtown. "What's best is, it's good for the city's coffers."

After legal review, the hourly rental proposal is expected to be revealed in a late-Spring City Council meeting with as many as four votes lined up in favor to begin.

Currently, the city only allows minimum rental stays of 30 days at residential properties in Manhattan Beach. And there has been talk of escalating enforcement.

Proposals to allow "short-term" rentals of about a week have been weighed, with an eye toward regulating and taxing the rentals. But the proposals were controversial. Some critics of the short-term ban said that not enough consideration was being given to homeowners' rights or to expanding vacation options for travelers to Manhattan Beach. 

This week's quiet April 1 announcement of the hourly rental proposal was meant to begin educating residents and building coalitions before any formal hearings are held.

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