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Orange County cities have been cracking down on short-term rentals in the past year and some have done so with outright bans.

That’s what Orange City Council members instructed staff to look into doing in November after jumping back and forth throughout the year on whether to prohibit the rentals or tighten regulations.

The council on Tuesday will consider a ban on the lodgings and spending close to $16,000 to enforce the prohibition by amending a contract with Granicus, LLC, a  Denver-based tech company, to find advertisements online and ensure compliance.

“Our code enforcement staff would still be involved in the process should there be violations going forward so it’s a combination of contracting for the information and code enforcement staff being the boots on the ground in relation to the enforcement,” City Manager Rick Otto said at a Jan. 12 City Council meeting.

Click here for a link to watch Tuesday’s meeting starting at 6 p.m.

Staff estimate that there are at least 350 short-term rentals in the city.

Some cities in Orange County, like Tustin, are doing complaint based enforcement, while others, like Irvine, have contracted with Host Compliance, a subsidiary of Granicus, to identify the rentals while code enforcement does the policing.

Click here for the agenda with a link to download a staff report on short-term rentals.

Short-term rentals is an industry that rapidly expanded in the county over the last decade with the emergence of hosting platforms such as AirBnB, allowing people to rent a room or a house for a couple of nights in residential areas.

As the industry has grown, so have concerns from residents who complain that such rentals attract a young, noisy party loving crowd that takes up parking slots, overflows residents’ trash cans and has strangers coming in and out of their neighborhoods.

“Let’s start with the frequent parties — one that had 40 people brawling in the street at 2 in the morning,” Orange resident Conny Traux said at the Jan. 12 meeting. “It’s not even a neighborhood any more.”

Concerns also stem from the expansion of the lodgings, creating a new hurdle in California’s affordable housing struggle. Orange County cities have to zone for thousands of new units in the coming decade, with many in the largely developed county pushing back on these state-mandated housing goals.

For some property owners and operators renting out their homes for a couple of days is a way to make some extra cash and help pay the mortgage, especially during the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent stay-at-home orders that resulted in losses in income for many in the county.

Other owners have been renting out their homes for years, implementing rules of their own and are pointing the finger at “bad operators” who don’t monitor their rentals and the impact they have on their neighbors as the problem.

“We live next to our rental and take care of it. If guests are a disturbance we are the first to know and take care of it,” resident Terry Jobson said at the Jan. 12 meeting. “In March, I was furloughed from work and the income from the house became essential to our family.”

In 2013, the city informed short-term rental operators that they needed a license and required them to collect tax from the renters. In 2017, staff determined the city couldn’t do that because the rentals weren’t specifically allowed under the city’s municipal code.

The meeting will take place on Feb. 9 with regular session starting at 6 p.m.

Hosam Elattar is a Voice of OC Reporting Fellow. Contact him at helattar@voiceofoc.org or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.

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