New Orleans council proposes broad ban on short-term rentals … –

Members of the City Council will introduce legislation Thursday to completely ban residential short-term rentals in New Orleans, after a judge ordered the city to temporarily halt enforcement of the city’s previous short-term rental rules last week. 

Those rules would have allowed for a limited number of short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods — one permit per city square block, with up to two exceptions per square block. 

But a lawsuit brought by short-term rental owners seeking to strike down those rules, passed in March, has gotten in the way of enforcing them. U.S. District Judge Ivan Lemelle last week stayed the rules, pending a Sept. 14 ruling on their constitutionality. 

In a statement released Wednesday, some council members sent a message: Enough is enough.

Bicyclists ride past a row of Governor Nicholls Street houses with short-term rental permits in the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans on Wednesday, March 1, 2023.

“We will not further negotiate with an industry that refuses to be regulated,” wrote Council President JP Morrell in a statement. “If the federal judge decides that the current regulations are insufficient, then we as a legislative body will resolve this matter once and for all.”

Council Vice President Helena Moreno wrote: “We have tried repeatedly to find a path for common sense protections in neighborhoods. Unfortunately, business interests have instead chosen to protect their profits.”

“I feel like the only choice left is to ban non-commercial STRs,” she continued. “This is not where I wanted to be, and the blame lies solely on those pursuing to strike regulations.”

Councilmember Lesli Harris also shared a statement that the council members “await the Court’s directive as to whether the Council will need to take this action to ban all non-residential STRs.”

Councilmember Eugene Green wrote: “We will await the court’s decision and work collectively as a council to make any adjustments that may be necessary. We will continue to work with our legal department to pass legislation that protects the integrity of our neighborhoods under the constitutional parameters required by law.”

The legislation needs just four votes— a simple majority— to pass.

Judge’s temporary restraining order

Before Lemelle’s ruling last week, the new permitting regime necessitated by the March rules was well underway. 

In August, the city had determined the recipients of the limited permits in a lottery and was in the process of granting permits to the winners.

But that process was brought to an abrupt halt with the judge’s ruling last week, which instituted a temporary restraining order on enforcement of the new rules.

In a statement Friday, the city’s permits office wrote that it would not accept applications for any type of permit for tourist rentals, whether in residential or commercial areas and for new or expired licenses. Applications already received would be held and not acted upon unless the order was lifted, according to John Lawson, a spokesperson for the mayor. 

A second lottery set for Oct. 2 was canceled. 

New permits for short-term rentals in commercial areas were already temporarily paused under a ban passed by City Council in June. The council plans to pass permanent regulations on the properties in commercial and mixed-use areas in the fall.

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