Short-Term Rental Opponents Ramping Up Pressure On Anaheim Council

Residents protesting short term rentals, which have fed off a tourist economy and home sharing sites like Airbnb, march in front of Anaheim City Hall.

As the Anaheim City Council continues to grapple with the explosion of short-term rentals in the neighborhoods surrounding Disneyland, advocates for a ban on the businesses are ramping up pressure.

On Tuesday, before the council’s regular meeting, more than 70 protesters marched in a circle in front of City Hall and loudly called for a strict ban on the rentals, which have proliferated thanks to websites like Airbnb and VBRO.

Protesters donned “Ban STRs” t-shirts and held signs reading “Neighborhoods not Strangerhoods” and “Feel the Ban—” a reference to the popular “Feel the Bern” campaign slogan popularized by supporters of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

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.

“We have three houses within five houses of mine that are short term rentals, it changes the tone of the neighborhood,” said resident Lynn Cudd. “I wouldn’t say that people who own these things are bad people. But this is a residential neighborhood – it’s not a business or resort.”

Meanwhile, those who support the short-term rentals argue the industry has helped improve property values and the tourist economy. They say the impacts on neighborhoods are exaggerated, and many renters are families vacationing at Disneyland and business professionals attending conventions.

“We are not a nuisance or detriment to public safety,” said Frances Noteboom, who operates a short-term-rental home. “My fellow STR owners…have generated more than $3.2 million for this city.”

Mayor Tom Tait proposed a full ban on future rentals in February, which is set to be considered by the council in June, along with a staff ordinance that would create stricter rules for short-term rental operators.

A handful of the protesters spoke during the public comment portion of Tuesday’s meeting, but no council member addressed the issue.

Contact Thy Vo at or follow her on Twitter @thyanhvo.

  • Lake Forest

    Anaheim residents showing more care for STR’s than crime, murders and tax subsidiaries.

  • Jacki Livingston

    You know, Florida has a lot of really cute lodgings that are mini-houses, all on a property with pools and little snack stands, as well as playgrounds and mini marts. Really nice ones. They are bigger than they look on the outside (like the TARDIS), because they have sleeping lofts. They are very reasonable, the tourists are all on one spot with these little houses, and the management really does a great job of policing these properties. They have full kitchens, and are really a great alternative to hotels. They are family oriented, and even have this movie screen at night, that they show films on and give kids free popcorn. This might be a great solution so that families can afford to come, and the private neighborhoods are not filled with traffic! A smart investor could buy some land and put it in. BTW, this would not be for homeless filling up. I know that the ones in Florida have ways of preventing that. Instead of banning and negative solutions, why not seek the way to bring families back to Disneyland, and keep residential neighborhoods happy? A positive choice! The city, and even the park, could provide some kind of incentive to developers for this. I know people who stayed in one of these in Orlando and they loved it! It was really fun and clean and reasonable. Zone some areas for this. It would help. It would also help if Disney stopped price gouging and brought their standards back up to where they were in the past.

    Don’t whine about a problem, unless you have ideas for positive solutions!

    • Jacki Livingston

      Oh, and if Big Bear and Arrowhead can have private home rentals that work, and coexist with the neighbors, then surely Anaheim can, too. Solutions that keep the visitor in mind will always pay off.

  • James Riley

    Sounds like the Anaheim hotel lobby is going to war against VRBO and AIRBnB — because short term rental is a better deal and local landlords care more about the guests than corporations do. That’s why VRBO occupancy is higher than hotels.

    ..and tell me once more how local Anaheim folks even have an idea who their neighbors are, whether they are short term or long term??

  • Alan Turner

    i have a str next door and one directly across the street. my experience has been totally positive. both houses are imaculate and are rarely occupied.i have not had any issues with tennants being noisy and to tell the truth i like it this way. before the str makeover next door the place was a long term rental with 10 people living there and it was a dump. new owners completely rehabed the place and made it nicest in neiborhood.

  • Fred Cornejo

    STRs are mini hotels operating in residential neighborhoods. BAN them all!

  • George Shaw

    A ban on short-term rentals is wrong. It is right to assume that tourists travel, more or less, on a fixed budget. If they feel they would be more comfortable at a STR in Anaheim, that means they would be more likely to travel to Anaheim. If they feel they could get a better deal at a STR, they would spend the money saves elsewhere within the area (food, entertainment, etc.) AND be more likely to travel to Anaheim. More accommodation options should be taken, overall, as a boom for a tourist economy. Especially when it can be done without incentives, as is the case here. In the end, STR would result in a more desirable and profitable Anaheim.
    (Note: If STRs has repercussions on the way Anaheim collects taxes, then the city should change the way it collects taxes. I think we can all agree that taxation should evolve to suit the economy and not the other way around.)
    Of course, there are other factors. Factors that should be weighed against the positive benefits discussed above. While it is difficult to quantify, I do not buy the accusation that STRs constitute a nuisance. On its face, the argument seems specious. Why would the typical traveler be any less desirable than a typical home owner or renter. It is not as if Anaheim attracts a lot of fraternities looking to party. Moreover, I heard on NPR this morning that complaints about noise are, in fact, overblown. One should always keep in mind that STRs pose a threat to established business interests within a society. As such, it is not ridiculous to be on the lookout for Astroturf (fake) grassroots movements looking to put pressure on politicians to maintain the status quo. So without dismissing such concerns entirely, the drawbacks don’t rise to the level of fighting the interests of consumers and the free market.
    A more prosperous Anaheim (with the benefit of STRs) is a stronger Anaheim. Moreover, visitors from diverse places can enlighten and enrich a neighborhood. As such, STR can provide more “social muscle” to the city, If you will…
    Practical arguments aside, city leaders should be asking themselves if they really want to be interfering with property rights and an emerging economy. Such actions should not be taken lightly without an actual compelling reason.

    • George Shaw

      But personally, I like hotels. To each, his own.

    • David Zenger

      “Why would the typical traveler be any less desirable than a typical home owner or renter.”

      I’ll make it easy for you, George. The average traveler to the Resort has a bunch of screaming kids, is likely party in the backyard on a summer’s eve, and has very little incentive to maintain a civil relationship with the folks next door.

      I disagree that STR visitors will stay elsewhere. They come to Anaheim to be near the Resort. If other surrounding towns were to start getting inundated with STRs they’d shut ’em down, too.

      The proliferation of these things in our neighborhoods serves to gut the residential character of the zone and change it to commercial.

      Piratical arguments aside, city leaders should be asking themselves if they really want to be interfering with the neighbors’ property rights – the rights vested in purchase of a house in the R1 zone. Such actions should not be taken lightly without an actual compelling reason.

  • David Zenger

    There should be a future ban.

    All existing short term rentals should require owner residence on site. This is an abomination that needs to end.

    “My fellow STR owners…have generated more than $3.2 million for this city.”

    Now that’s a number I’d like to see proved.

    • Cynthia Ward

      David, Frances is correct about the numbers. At least for those units collecting and remitting their TOT. They probably HAVE generated that in TOT which is
      A) money that would have come in anyway, since nobody comes to Anaheim just to stay in an STR, they happen to stay in an STR when coming to Anaheim, and would stay in a hotel if no STR was open.
      B) the total on same occupants is almost certain to be higher if they use hotels, as each STR represents several hotel rooms.
      C) that total shows how much of a problem this is, if enough tourists are staying in residential units displacing permanent residents that it generated over $3MM this is not a small issue, this is not every now and then, this is big business with full time revolving doors on de facto motel units, and enough to disrupt the lives of those around the STRs.
      D) THAT is the very definition of “nuisance.”

      • David Zenger

        That was my point: TOT collected (dubious) is more or less a diversion from proprietors who have to pay the tax; ergo: no net revenue, probably a loss.

      • Jacki Livingston

        You are wrong. If I have a choice of vacation destinations, with my family, and I am factoring in the absolutely RIDICULOUS prices of the House of that Mouse, I will absolutely not go there, unless there is a reasonably priced, large enough to be comfortable, with a kitchen, place. Disney, and all of the hotels and restaurants in the area, have priced themselves out of reach of families. They got rid of Southern California resident promotions. They really have shown financial contempt for the residents of their own state, which used to be their bread and butter. Am I saying that misconduct by renters should be ignored or tolerated? Of course not. A landlord should maintain a tight leash on the units and build a spirit of community with the other neighbors. If a landlord had a good relationship with his neighbors, and the neighbors were able to call and advise him of problems, then it would be no different than long term renters. This “ban them!” and “all or nothing” mentality does not serve the city well, or the millions of tourists who have been priced out of Disneyland. I did a serious cost analysis, being a former travel agent. Overall, for a family of five, it is cheaper for a family from the Midwest to go to Disney World, than Disneyland. That is taking into account food, lodging, transportation, other attractions and ticket prices. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater! Regulate it, zone it, have a three strikes and you are out licensing policy. Punish those who are absentee, and who are not doing right by the community. But don’t play a double standard of one homeowner gets to claim he is king of his castle, and the other doesn’t get to have the same freedom to do what he wants with his. It’s un-American, and it shoots the tourist industry in the foot. You are so cavalier about “will stay in a hotel if no STR is available”. That is a steaming pile of wrong. They will go elsewhere, because they cannot afford the overinflated, subpar quality, ridiculously low return value of the City of Anaheim and their Monster Mouse. I am fairly certain that Disney;s mafia…errrr…lobbyists…would love people to believe that their tiny little hotel rooms and cruddy cafeteria quality food at ridiculous prices are a super keep value, but we all know it isn’t. If Anaheim does not have the type of lodgings like Florida, whether it be mini-house lodgings or homes, people will choose Florida, as they have been for decades. Frankly, I don’t see why Disney and the City are not more honest. Why not just tell middle class families in the USA that you don’t want their money, and stop pretending? That way, they can go back to depending on Asian and European tourists, and stop wasting our time and money. The Happiest Place on Earth has become the Crappiest Place on Earth that is overpriced, overhyped and unwelcoming. So they should cut the crappola.

        • Cynthia Ward

          Jacki, Disney and the City HAVE made it clear that middle class families pinching their pennies are no longer the desired customer. Disney has boosted their admission price pretty much annually, Disney admission is now THREE TIMES what it was in the 1990s before the expansion of DCA and Grand Cal and Downtown Disney. And Disney is far from hurting for business, the foreign wealth continues to flood into their park. And while a dozen hotels have gone up that cater to the middle class family market, Anaheim is doing back flips to offer subsidies to the “4 Star” market (foolishly) because they want the wealthier business clientele for the higher end conventions like the cardiologists and pharmaceutical groups.

          Yes, if the absentee landlords had a good relationship with their neighbors things would be different to SOME extent. But tourists are NOT the same as permanent residents. The coming and going is a much noisier business, even with those trying to be quiet and respectful. There is a loss of the sense of “neighborliness” when one is forced to live completely surrounded by these de facto motels. In some areas the STRs outnumber the permanent residents. There is no waving to neighbor Fred as he leaves for work in the morning or mows the lawn on Saturday, There is a loss of people to have a potluck for July 4th or a Neighborhood Watch meeting. And frankly, behavior of even respectful guests is still more disruptive than permanent residents. FOR INSTANCE: Someone living with a swimming pool doesn’t find it a novelty and doesn’t need to be in the pool every day. Someone vacationing from the mid west DOES see the pool as a novelty, and you get the kids playing Marco Polo for HOURS every day, and as soon as they pack up and out the next group shows up and a new group of kids is in the pool screaming. All of it takes a toll on the “quiet enjoyment” of the neighbors. Are the kids being bad? Nope,they are behaving exactly the way my kids behaved during vacations, but my kids were in the pool all day in a hotel. where it was expected. You can’t call the landlord and gripe that kids on vacation are acting like kids on vacation. And you can’t ask the kids on vacation to not be kids on vacation. But I would lose my freaking mind living next to a permanent revolving door of kids on vacation. And the ones with property rights that must be enforced are those using their property as it was zoned and entitled. The FULL TIME RESIDENTS. There is no property right to a conditional use that creates 100% full time business use of a residential area.

          Getting back to affordability, the STRs ARE less expensive than hotels, which means they are collecting LESS TOT than hotels. But we know they create more demand for public services, because of the numerous calls that have come flooding in from those areas since the STRs opened. Taxpayers must still provide services to those tourists, but we have far less money to use to provide those services. And it is not like Anaheim is swimming in money, that is a total lie that has sadly been swallowed hook, line, and sinker by all of us (including me until recently.) I have no obligation to forego public services I should expect as a resident because resources have been diverted to STR users. There is no “right” to attend Disneyland for a vacation. We vacation where we can afford to, I love the Empress in Victoria BC, (Fairmont Gold Level, Heaven on earth) and I scrimp and scrounge and skip vacations to hoard enough to go every few years, nobody OWES me that experience. Why should we give up the quiet enjoyment of Anaheim’s residential neighborhoods and the revenue that should be collected on the entire hotel now missing from the skyline of Anaheim, because someone can’t afford to go to Disneyland, so we somehow must enable that experience for them? Sorry there are too many critical services my real neighbors do genuinely need for me to figure out how to subsidize the vacations of strangers. Nope. Sorry.

          • Jacki Livingston

            Nice. You don’t mind if I reprint this text on family travel sites, do you? I am actually gobsmacked that you seriously have the audacity as an elected official from a city dependent on tourists, to speak with such disdain for the middle class families looking for a place to spend their money. I have to apologize to DumpTrump. I thought he was the most self involved, elitist jerk seeking office. Wow…just…wow. I am definitely passing this all around the net. Maybe, after, you can get a job with Disney, writing brochures for the packets with DVD that they send to the great unwashed middle class every year. Stay classy, there, how.

          • Cynthia Ward

            Jacki, I have no idea where you are “skipping off to” but I hope you enjoy your visit there. When you return, please consider the following: I am not now, and have never been, an elected official anywhere, much less in Anaheim. Now maybe go back and read my comment and understand that I am condemning the City’s elitist arrogant attitude about only subsidizing the very rich who use luxury hotels, and forcing middle class families into residential neighborhoods, where their presence creates conflicts with the local residents, leading to a bad vacation experience for those visitors, and a bad residential experience for the homeowners. Then you might want to go revisit those websites and see if you can delete the comments you dropped completely out of context, and I assume with the misinformation that the comments were made by an Anaheim elected official, which I am not. You do me no harm at all, but you have embarrassed yourself rather badly by jumping to conclusions, and done it on multiple websites. Reading for understanding, it’s a remedial class taught in most night schools. Good luck.

          • Jacki Livingston

            Oh, and in my sharing frenzy, I made sure to post it on a website for military families, because they, too, are mostly middle class, and they should know what Disney thinks of their little pool brats. I am up to sixteen sites, and I am loving the results…I am sure you will, too.

            Buh-bye, now…*skips off*

    • Jeanine

      The STR owners had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, to the table at City Hall to negotiate the original ordinance. They, then, had to be dragged back, kicking and screaming, to discuss paying the TOT. For some reason they felt that they should be allowed to operate their illegal businesses in our residential neighborhoods, free of all regulations and taxation. It is now ironic how the STR owners act as if the TOT paid is a charitable contribution to the city instead of their tax responsibility. There is also no audit procedures currently in place for STRs as there is for hotels/motels within the city. Many STR owners update their online calendars on a daily basis, thereby making it impossible to tell when the property has been occupied and TOT due. There are also specific owners who are renting 1/2 houses- yes, you read that right- 1/2 houses to distort the occupancy and income received. These people will take advantage of any loophole available. the only solution is a complete BAN of all existing and future STRs.

      • David Zenger

        “… a complete BAN of all existing and future STRs”

        I would be inclined to agree.

  • Paul Lucas

    I hope the current issue of developers getting free stuff in the form of tax subsidies doenst take a back seat to the STR issue.

    • Sam

      The residents are the primary concern of the city, we are the city. How long must this go on? They closed down the pot shops soon enough.

      STRs affect the people of Anaheim and we have 20,000 hotel rooms. The council spent millions fighting a law suit they knew they could not win just to hold off districting.

      The city spent millions just to examine the possibility of a street car down Katella.

      The city loses millions by tourists NOT staying in hotels, so what’s 10 or 20 mil on a subsidy. It seems the city is throwing that away on a daily basis.
      Too bad for Anaheim.

      • Cynthia Ward

        10 or 20 MM on a subsidy? Sorry, the latest is for $144MM. And the same Chinese investor owns another hotel on Katella that is ready for its subsidy to be approved, Add the $158MM from Gardenwalk and we are probably looking at HALF A BILLION in hotel subsidies, with 2/3rds of it leaving the county and never to be seen in our local economy. Just to prop up construction certain to take place anyway, and likely to cannibalize surrounding 3 star units when the 4 star patrons fail to materialize in the numbers expected, because nobody appears to have bothered with a market survey (basic business 101)

    • chubbers

      My thoughts exactlyI wish the citizens would have been outraged and as passionate against the Free Tax incentives for the well paid corporate hotels.

      In terms of the huge blocks of property / REIT investors being sold to these vampires. These investors create the shortage and abuse of housing shortages.