A divided Westminster City Council approved an ordinance Wednesday night to “affirmatively” ban all short-term rentals of residential properties for periods of 30 days or less.
The resolution was approved with three votes in favor – Mayor Tri Ta and councilmembers Chi Charlie Nguyen and Kimberly Ho – and two abstentions – councilmembers Tai Do and Sergio Contreras.
Short-term rentals have been praised and condemned and are a growing issue in many cities. Supporters say it’s a way for homeowners to earn more money, especially in the difficult coronavirus economy. Critics complain that unregulated lodging takes money away from legitimate hotels and motels, doesn’t pay taxes and create problems with noise, traffic and litter.
Among the speakers during the public hearing that preceded the vote, representatives of Airbnb and Expedia offered to help collect taxes for the city and assist in dealing with problems if the STRs were legalized.
Ta spoke in favor of the ban, saying “It’s been an ongoing issue for years,” citing complaints from neighbors. “We need to support the residents.”
Do wasn’t so sure. “It’s a little extreme,” he said, adding “We need to take a look at some things,” including perhaps using STRs as a way to raise revenue for the city.
Contreras expressed concern about enforcement. “I don’t see how you could close four-five-six-hundred STRs,” he said.
But Nguyen cited “numerous complaints” from residents and Ho settled the matter by announcing her support for the ordinance, adding “we can always amend or repeal it later.”