The Fullerton City Council altered its decision on short-term rental regulations in the city, as members voted 3-2 on Tuesday evening to ban whole-home rentals for time periods of 30 days or less at one time.
In October, the city introduced taxes for short-term rentals based on nightly rates. They also limited the total number of whole-home rentals available and created additional standards for them such as quiet periods and cleanliness requirements in response to complaints by Fullerton residents.
Now, renting entire homes through platforms like Airbnb for brief periods of time are prohibited.
Fullerton homeowners are only permitted to rent out spaces in their houses or continue to rent out whole homes for more than 30 consecutive days, said Matt Foulkes, community and economic development director. A one-year grace period was recommended to allow property owners time to convert to either of the two options, Foulkes added.
The majority of Fullerton residents at the meeting spoke in favor of the amendment, including employees from the labor union Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees, also known as HERE, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice and the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy.
One Fullerton resident with experience using Airbnb said they felt that the pleas from multiple organizers were an indication of Anaheim residents interfering in Fullerton affairs.
Councilmember Fred Jung said he supported the amendment, but called into question the long-term effects of short-term rental houses.
“I think it’s a shortsighted approach to property rights. I believe they are a product of our obsession with convenience and social media. They erode at our sense of community and our identity as a city,” Jung said.
Mayor Bruce Whitaker, the only person who voted against the October measure, voted against the measure once again, citing similar concerns of a measure he sees as overbroad.
“I’m someone who doesn’t want to see the city become known for bans, restrictions and prohibitions, particularly in the modern economy,” Whitaker said.
Councilmember Nick Dunlap said he disagreed with city government interfering in the free market and called previous and current discussion on the subject of short-term rentals “long on conjecture and short on facts.”
“To throw away the rights of Fullerton home-owners, Fullerton property-owners and Fullerton tax-payers because of a union scare tactic, I just find absolutely repulsive,” Dunlap said.
Councilmember Ahmad Zahra, however, said that he recognized the “nearly 100” working-class residents of Fullerton represented by HERE as locals of South Fullerton who worked in Disney and deserved “a decent and dignified living” and offered that the city invest in real hotels in order to bring in additional revenue from tourism.
Zahra said that his vote to pass the pro in October was the best compromise for the City Council that existed at the time.
A day after the original measure was enacted in December, the city received a notice of intent to file legal action against it, citing environmental impacts covered in provision of the 1970 California Environmental Quality Act, which states an activity must have “no possibility” of significant environmental harm.
Charged by the city council to amend the law, the planning commission voted 4-1 in March to not amend the law.
The Fullerton City Council continues to debate on short-term rentals, a debate that began in December 2015.