Anaheim Mayor Proposes Short-Term Rental Ban

Photo by Adam Elmahrek/Voice of OC

Supporters and opponents of short-term rentals listen to an Anaheim staff presentation on a new ordinance with stricter rules governing the controversial businesses.

Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait proposed banning short-term rentals at the end of a public workshop on the issue Tuesday, marking the first time a City Council member expressed support for an across-the-board prohibition of the controversial businesses.

Tait’s proposal followed a city staff presentation on a proposed ordinance that would go further in restricting short-term rentals than the current law, but stops short of a full ban. Among the new rules would be a cap on the current number of short-term rental operators in town and an increase in the fines issued for violations.

The council chambers was packed with dozens of supporters and opponents of the businesses, which have erupted thanks to the emergent sharing economy made possible by home sharing websites like Airbnb and VRBO.

Opponents say the businesses have turned their neighborhood into mini-hotel districts and robbed them of a sense of community. Supporters argue the impacts cited by some residents are exaggerated and that short-term rentals are occupied primarily by peaceful families vacationing at Disneyland and business professionals attending conventions.

People in both camps were unsatisfied with the city proposal.

Short-term rental owner Tal Price said the ordinance was “far too restrictive,” but said the owners wanted to suggest a few amendments. “We want to try and work together in the spirit of compromise,” he said.

Meanwhile, opponents of the businesses left little room for compromise.

Short-term rental owners “tricked, deceived and destroyed the city. We have to ban these immediately,” said resident Mike Robbins.

Speakers from both sides disagreed on virtually every point. Operators claim they are not running businesses, while opponents say they’re akin to motels. One operator even claimed her short-term rental’s neighbors make more noise and bother her renters more than her renters bother the residents.

According to city records, there are about 400 short-term rentals in Anaheim, though some residents believe the number is closer to 600. The biggest concentration is in the neighborhoods around the Disneyland Resort and the convention center. Sherwood Village, a neighborhood of town homes in the area, has become an especially contentious battleground over the issue.

Tait suggested that his proposal for a ban immediately apply to any future applications short-term rentals, while allowing those currently operating a reasonable grace period to close. He asked that the ban be considered alongside with staff’s recommended ordinance, which is scheduled to come before the council  in June.

A moratorium on new applications for short-term rentals expires in May, but is expected to be renewed at least until council members consider the proposed new ordinances.

In addition to new enforcement rules and a ban on new short-term rentals, Planning Director David Belmer suggested that operators with neighbors who have complained heavily move their rentals to new locations.

In proposing a ban, Tait said short-term rentals weaken the “social muscle” of neighborhoods and fundamentally change their character.

“Neighborhoods are really the essence of what a city is,” he said.

Tait said he supports carving out rentals whereby the resident lives in the home and is renting out an extra room or two, something he said was the original idea behind home sharing websites. City staff’s proposal would also allow these types of rentals, but would require operators to obtain a home sharing permit.

Please contact Adam Elmahrek directly at and follow him on Twitter: @adamelmahrek

  • Jacki Livingston

    Sorry, but as someone who travels, with a family, I should not have to stay in some flea bitten, crummy hotel. They are all substandard or overpriced, and the industry refuses to clean itself up. Anaheim hotels are the worst. I want to stay where I can cook meals for my family, and have some room. Anaheim’s mayor is just pandering to Disney and the Evil Empire, who have already priced their parks out of reach of families. Enough. You make rules about the homes and you enforce them. As to the neighbors, waaaaah. You bought a home. You get to control what goes on in your home. Unless they break the law, what other people do is none of your business.

    • Bobbie J

      Excuse you, how about you live in the area where there are a bunch of renters. Oh wait, you don’t you are only there for a short time and don’t understand the long term effects that renters have on a community, so SHOVE OFF! Thank god for the mayor for finally bringing up this issue that many people have been asking for. It’s renters like you who ruin a community and make it just a bunch of mini hotels.

      • Jacki Livingston

        First of all, sweets, I own my home, kthnx. Second, I am not saying anyone should run wild. There are rules and laws in place. My issue is with people who think that buying a house or condo somehow entitles them to dictate how everyone else in a twenty mile area should live, or what color to paint their home, or all of the other nonsensical and invasive garbage that people believe. You bought a home. That is all. No one made you a Speshul Snowflake Princess. Where I live? We have warranty more problems with owners than we do renters. There are the party folks who have live bands for every holiday. There are the idiots who think mowing the lawn at six am on a Sunday is awesome. You have to just go along to get along. Tourism is the life blood of Anaheim. People don’t want to spend the ridiculous amount for tickets to the overrated house of the mouse and also stay in lousy motels and eat out Evey meal. To classify all homeowners as put upon heroes and all visitors as horrible party animals is unfair. Anaheim is pricing itself out of range for the American family tourist visitor. Unless you have some genius idea of how to make up the revenue that these visitors bring, you guys might consider common sense ways to keep the homes needed while enforcing strict standards. Personally? I won’t be going to Disneyland any more, because they just are not worth the money. But I sure won’t spend my money anywhere that I can’t rent a home type of lodging. No one should, given how awful hotels have gotten.

  • Paul Lucas

    Costa Mesa is really having a huge problem with these STRs by AIR BnB. Anaheim should observe whats happening there and act accordingly. It has spun out of control in alot of areas where one would expect tourists. Hotel operators must be really upset at STRs.

    • Cynthia Ward

      It is everywhere. New Orleans reports entire neighborhoods stripped of their permanent residents, so those seeking an authentic New Orleans experience by living with the locals find themselves surrounded by other tourists. WORSE, what happens to the reputation of a community, with online surveys of “friendliest tourism destination,” when visitors assign the rude behavior of other tourists on the locals they think live around their vacation rental? Locals come off as the bad guys when in fact there isn’t a local resident for blocks in either direction. Couple that with hosts that are ALSO not locals. and have already exhibited such arrogant self-interest in wanting what they want despite the negatives to locals, that Anaheim eventually will be blamed for STRs having nasty neighbors AND nasty hosts, when VERY FEW of either are Anaheim residents at all. THAT is the business of all of us, even those of us not immediately impacted by STRs, because we have stupidly permitted our General Fund to become so overly reliant on tourism that letting untrained property managers play at being hospitality professionals DOES impact our economic engine and WILL impact the future reputation of Anaheim! Our own REAL hospitality professionals put in the time to receive Ambassadors training to learn to more effectively connect with our guests. They must now compete with those who show themselves to be the OPPOSITE of Ambassadors sharing the most welcoming experience Anaheim can offer. This is fair HOW exactly?

      Offers of a “local experience” should be permitted ONLY by verified LOCAL RESIDENTS in owner-occupied or owner-adjacent homes. Period. And resident-run units should be spread out to ensure that surroundings are indeed LOCAL and not packed so tight with other tourists you may as well be in a hotel. If there are neighborhoods already too far gone, maybe we rezone those few strips to let locals be bought out so they don’t have to endure it, and declare them openly as tourism districts, so tourists know the jerk next door is NOT one of our courteous Anaheim citizens.

      SO THE BIG QUESTION: Where are the Anaheim hoteliers? Housekeepers and other front line staff are showing up at Council complaining they don’t have hours anymore, despite record setting increases in visitors this year. So we have to believe the hotels are being hit, and restaurants are not selling meals that have been replaced by “home cooking” in the rented kitchen. WHY ARE THEY NOT SCREAMING? Anyone else get the feeling someone made a deal on he back end? Hoteliers are looking for some big “ask” in the near future that is bigger even than this, so they have to lie low for now? If they feel like their objections are not welcome at City Hall, does that not point to some predetermined outcome already telegraphed by the Council majority, meaning the fix is already in? Gee Cynthia, you are getting terribly paranoid. Uh…yeah…have you SEEN the City Council in Anaheim operate the last few years?

  • Cynthia Ward

    FOR THE RECORD, I am glad to see staff seem to have separated the “sharing economy” of Anaheim residents using their own occupied property to entertain visitors to Anaheim from the 100% commercial business that turns houses into hotels, minus the compliance for basic health and safety regs, ADA, etc. and absent the supervision of on site hotel staff who make sure your 10 year old is out of the pool by 10 pm. NOBODY makes a better cheerleader for Anaheim than those of us who have chosen to make our homes here, and offering an authentic local experience for visitors to come share an Anaheim home with an Anaheim resident is a completely different use than letting strangers take over a house you don’t live in, have NEVER lived in, and have no day to day emotional stake in, beyond your emotional attachment to the money it is generating. I would even go so far as to permit Anaheim residents (owner-occupants, not lease holders or property managers) to run one or two of these within a certain number of feet from their owner occupied home. Run the house next door and one across the street? Well, YOU are here to watch things, and YOU are here to answer to the neighbors, so there is at least a resident connection that ties to the community. Even then I would say no more than 1 or 2 in addition to the occupied premises, and only with the sign-off of surrounding neighbors. Those using the surrounding property as it is zoned have priority over those looking for a use through variance, even if the City just waived the whole variance process and rubber stamped the train wreck. How is this brain surgery? because people hear what they want to hear. They heard the city give in to their already unzoned use of property and instead of cracking down they enabled it (sigh..) and they somehow translated a permit for variance use with specific conditions into some bizarre form of “right” to commercial use of residential property, and now the residents who ARE in compliance with zoning are made out as the bad guys. What a recipe for disaster, and it was the most predictable disaster in the history of the City. Anytime staff enables something this lacking in professional due diligence you know they are acting at the order of Council, and that “fix is in” behavior is what most angers all of us. It is obvious that these public meetings are nothing but window dressing to offer the veneer of “public input” when the predetermined outcome is already known to the Council majority and telegraphed to staff for their “recommendation” to align with the outcome preferred by Council.

    Last night was such a train wreck. Once again we were subjected to HOURS of public testimony. Not content to have had an entire public comments section devoted to them during the STR workshop, the orange shirted STR owners stuck around for the meeting itself, and you know they don’t care a hoot about the business of Anaheim, they simply wanted to suck up more public time with every STR owner dragging out their tale of woe for how they are being “harmed” by the government’s proper curtailing of their incompatible land use entirely contrary to established zoning. Meanwhile, Anaheim residents ONCE AGAIN were prevented from accessing the Council Chambers our taxes pay for because an organized movement of corporate interests from outside of Anaheim had sucked up all the seating. So those of us who could not get in for the workshop, and cannot hear the meeting on the junk sound system out in the lobby overflow room. were left to offer our thoughts during the later meeting as well, adding to the delays before Council could conduct the business of the people. At some point each side needs to select a spokesperson, let them present their case, have all stand in support (which SHOULD mean nothing to the Council, as many interests from outside Anaheim can inflate the number of bodies standing, but it lets people feel as though they were heard, and might cut down on the repetitive messaging offered OVER AND OVER AGAIN.) and then anyone wishing to offer ADDITIONAL info not covered by earlier speakers may speak, nobody wants to deny either side their chance to offer info of use in the decision making process, but there is no legal obligation to permit repetitive messaging, indeed the City’s policy on public comments permits the Chair to limit it, and I respect the Mayor’s desire to let people be heard, but I would not fault him for setting limits if both sides do not wise up and voluntarily limit themselves.

    The STR opposition did limit themselves, offering new studies etc that were not brought forward previously. Also a few hotel workers were there to report they have lost work since the STRs went in, as occupancy in hotels (including the Grand Californian) is DOWN despite an uptick in visitors. So the STRs are not ADDING revenue they are cannibalizing from hotels, and producing LESS TOT when guests who would have used 2 or 3 hotel rooms or a family style suite (STRs are NOT the only option to get a kitchen and separate bedrooms, despite the sob stories) instead now use STRs that equate to less rental revenue per square foot and thus less TOT collected. Also the sales tax lot on restaurant meals that are now NOT eaten by those cooking in their rented kitchens is going to impact Anaheim.

    Now by no means is revenue generating an excuse for permitting these things, to compromise the integrity of our zoning in exchange for promises of money just smacks of selling one’s mother on the streets. But if that is the comparison, then what does it say about us as a community when we are willing to sell out mother for LESS than market value?

    How is this even a debate? I don’t get it. Clear the way for Anaheim residents to share their enthusiasm for Anaheim with visitors in a sharing economy, and get the out of town corporate interests with their 100% commercial use of residential property OUT OF THE RESIDENTIAL AREA, where they hurt the residents trying to enjoy THEIR real estate investment by using it as allowed by zoning, AND the bad blood is spilling over to the Anaheim residents who are operating shared use with visitors without real harm to the neighbors, taking personal responsibility by LIVING RIGHT THERE.

    Anaheim City Council and staff owe their first loyalty to the RESIDENTS OF ANAHEIM. Period. There is no other discussion. Business owners from outside Anaheim come in second place, and then ONLY when their use of property is within accepted zoning and land use regs and not harmful to the residents who are the FIRST PRIORITY of government. How that org chart at City hall got flipped upside down is anyone’s guess (OK it was campaign cash but we will play along and pretend innocence) but it is time to take put the push pins, flip the org chart right side up, and rehang it, please. This time in a proper frame with picture hooks so it doesn’t fall down again.

    • David Zenger

      An outright ban on all non-owner occupied property is the only way to clean up this mess.

      You don’t live there, you don’t rent it out.

  • David Zenger

    Once again, the Mayor is right.

    • AJMintheOC

      Totally agree. It seems that a ban is the way to go. If people want to visit Anaheim, let them stay at our many hotels, not in rented-out homes where they can be disruptive and/or destructive to our residential communities.

  • LFOldTimer

    Any short-term rental that has 3 legitimate disturbance calls in a 6 month period should be banned from leasing to short term renters for a 2 year period. Make the landlord responsible for the behavior of his tenants.