Short-term rentals will be banned in recently licensed quadruplex housing in many parts of New Orleans, closing a potential loophole in the effort to create more affordable housing that had raised concerns among neighborhood groups.
The new category of multi-family housing was approved last year in an effort to meet the city’s housing needs among low- and middle-income residents. It allows developers to install more units in lots in a number of in-demand neighborhoods in New Orleans, but requires them to set aside at least one unit for people with limited incomes.
While neighborhood groups agreed on the need for more housing at a council debate in December, many feared the new category would instead generate more short-term rentals.
The latest zoning change, passed unanimously by city council on Thursday, prohibits short-term rentals in newly licensed residential buildings. Previously, only one short-term rental was allowed on properties. City Council President Helena Moreno said allowing even one rental unit could have opened the door to additional illegal rentals.
“We have had conversations with affordable housing developers. They also agreed that the STR was not necessary to make the projects work, and that it could potentially be open to abuse, to have fourplexes that had an STR,” she said.
Under the December zoning change, three- and four-unit residential buildings are permitted in most uphill neighborhoods under Interstate 10 and most downhill neighborhoods under Interstate 610.
In Central City, the Bethlehem Lutheran Church has already taken advantage of the zoning change to begin construction of affordable units on previously vacant land across from its Washington Avenue building.
The architect of this project, Byron Mouton, said Thursday that he was satisfied with the latest vote by the city council.
Short-term rentals, provided by companies like Airbnb and Vrbo, have been the subject of numerous complaints that they drive out long-term residents in favor of tourists.
While the council passed regulations and permitting requirements before the pandemic to limit industry growth, residents often complain the city has done little to crack down on illegal and unauthorized rentals. .
Several council members said that despite the new restriction on short-term rentals, they still want to tackle the bigger problem of unauthorized short-term rentals that are spreading through residential neighborhoods.
One of their biggest concerns is the aggressiveness with which Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s administration enforces city bylaws.
Although the city receives more than 50 complaints about short-term rentals a week, only 12 cases went to trial last year and five cases the year before, according to a report released last month by city staff. Planning Commission.
The city recently signed a contract to better track illegal rentals, Moreno said.
Councilman Joe Giarrusso said he plans to hold a hearing next month on the city’s law enforcement efforts.