My wife Andrea and I have operated a licensed “temporary” short-term rental in our 7th Ward New Orleans home since February of this year. Under New Orleans Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer’s proposed changes to the STR ordinance, we will lose this much-needed revenue, and likely be forced to sell our home and leave the area. We bought the double lot on Franklin Avenue at a NORA auction in December 2015 with the stipulation that we would build a new house on the previously blighted property within one year of the auction. Neither of us are professional builders, but over the course of the following year, we managed to complete a modest 900 square-foot home, fulfilling our obligations to NORA. Like many working people, we sought creative ways to finance our project, ultimately receiving the assistance of my in-laws, who obtained a mortgage on our behalf.
Consequently, the STR ordinance only allowed us to apply as renters for a temporary license (since our names were not on the mortgage). Less than one year later, the rules are changing again, and will soon ban us from all licensing to operate a STR in the house that we built. This is not good policy: encouraging residents to participate in urban renewal and invest in the city, then later changing key regulations in ways that significantly harm those same investors.
I fully understand the need to regulate STRs and agree that outside developers running virtual hotel businesses in residential neighborhoods should be curtailed. I have no problem with paying reasonable taxes and fees and wholeheartedly support all honest efforts at solving the problems of affordable housing for the City’s poor. I cannot, however, see how this current one-size-fits-all approach to regulating STRs is either reasonable or honest. The Louisiana homestead exemption should not be the sole criteria for STR licensing in residential areas. A reasonable alternative would be to broaden the definition of eligible license holder to include all legal residents of Louisiana. This would allow people who have purchased their homes under bond for deed agreements, renters who have permission from their landlords to operate a STR, and other cases involving tax-paying Louisiana residents who wish to participate in the STR marketplace to do so.
I would further ask the council to immediately lift the current moratorium on renewal of temporary STR licenses for local residents like us while this debate continues. Maintaining this moratorium will effectively shut us down as a legal STR licensee in a few weeks, rendering this entire discussion moot for my family. I am sure there are many others in similar situations who have already lost or will soon lose their temporary license.