Short-term rental proposal threatens downtown neighborhoods

A last-minute amendment to proposed regulations on short-term rentals poses a threat to our historic downtown neighborhoods. The amendment is headed to the New Orleans City Council on Thursday, Aug. 8.

In multiple meetings of the City Council and City Planning Commission, residents were told new regulations would include a 25 percent cap on the number of units within an apartment building that can be used as short-term rentals. A new amendment would take the Central Business District out of that equation, allowing for apartment buildings to become 100 percent short-term rentals.

New Orleans is lucky to have vibrant downtown neighborhoods that blend residences with a wide variety of commercial uses. That mix allows people to live close to where they work, often saving time and money. Quality of life is high in neighborhoods such as the Warehouse District, Lafayette Square and Picayune Place. However, this new amendment could drive out residents as whole buildings are converted to short-term rentals.

New Orleans’ Central Business District has seen a flurry of apartment building development, and each major project required developers to have a dialogue with nearby property owners through the Neighborhood Participation Plan. Allowing the wholesale conversion of these residential buildings for hospitality use amounts to a bait-and-switch for longtime residents who were told they would have new neighbors, not tourists, next door. The Preservation Resource Center believes in the importance of residents in our historic neighborhoods to keep them authentic and thriving, and this amendment puts that directly at risk in the Central Business District.

The PRC also recognizes that allowing short-term rental development along certain corridors can be a catalyst for change if we use a more targeted approach. Canal Street is largely devoid of residents who might face displacement. Thousands of undeveloped square feet on buildings’ upper floors make it an ideal corridor for allowing entire buildings to be used as short-term rentals. A blanket allowance for the whole Central Business District, however, would be a mistake.

We commend projects such as the Pythian, which incorporated a limited number of short-term rentals in its building to help finance the revitalization of a historic property. The Pythian’s developers also permanently designated a significant number of units for affordable housing. We hope to see more developments that follow a similar path.

We are fortunate to have a robust tourism, convention and hospitality industry that provides jobs for residents and showcases our culture. We can continue to welcome visitors without sacrificing our homes and neighborhoods through smart, strongly enforced short-term rental regulations in every part of the city.

If you agree, please contact your council members to say you support reasonable limits on commercial short-term rentals citywide. Use the information below or plan to attend the meeting on Thursday, August 8, at 11 a.m. at 1300 Perdido Street. Find your district here. At-large members represent all residents.

 

Council President Helena Moreno, At-Large
Phone: (504) 658-1070
morenocouncil@nola.gov

Council Vice President Jason Williams, At-Large
Phone: (504) 658-1060
jasonwilliams@nola.gov

Councilmember Joseph Giarrusso, District “A”
Phone: (504) 658-1010
Joseph.Giarrusso@nola.gov

Councilmember Jay H. Banks, District “B”
Phone: (504) 658-1020
Jay.Banks@nola.gov

Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer, District “C”
Phone: (504) 658-1030
Kristin.Palmer@nola.gov

Councilmember Jared C. Brossett, District “D”
Phone: (504) 658-1040
councildistrictd@nola.gov

Councilmember Cyndi Nguyen, District “E”
Phone: (504) 658-1050
Cyndi.Nguyen@nola.gov