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Los Angeles plans crackdown on Airbnb — and its hosts

Airbnb declined an interview request but issued the following statement about Santa Monica: "While we've responded to the city's notices, we continue exploring all options and remain hopeful that the city will revisit these misguided rules that harm middle-income Californians."
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The city of L.A. wants to fine Airbnb and property owners who violate new proposed rules.

The city of Los Angeles plans to hit Airbnb and its hosts with hefty fines if they fail to follow proposed new rules on short-term rentals. 

Under a city plan revealed Friday, hosts who use Airbnb and other vacation-rental sites could only rent out their primary residence and for no more than 90 days a year. The property cannot be under rent control. Also, hosts would be legally responsible for nuisance violations by guests and would have to register with the city and pay the same kind of lodging tax that hotels do. Breaking any of these rules could result in fines ranging from $200/a day to $2,000/a day.

Meanwhile, hosting platforms like Airbnb could be fined between $500 to $1,000 a day for offenses like advertising a listing that violates city rules or for refusing to hand over the addresses of unregistered short-term rentals to the city.

City officials are proposing new rules as they contend with a housing shortage that activists blame partly on businesses that convert large swaths of apartments into short-term rentals, which can net more money per night.

The plan "proposes an enforceable system to protect affordable housing and our neighborhoods from rogue hotel operators," said Councilmember Mike Bonin, one of the officials who proposed the regulations, in a statement.

But Airbnb said in a statement that proposed fines will hurt the middle-class hosts who depend on the income that comes from sharing their homes.

"The proposal takes a step backward putting consumer privacy at great risk by requiring online platforms to give the government unfettered access to confidential user data without any idea of how the information would be used," Airbnb said.

The L.A. Short-Term Rental Alliance, which represents hosts, predicted that privacy issues could lead to legal challenges from the likes of the American Civil Liberties Union.  The group’s director of operations Robert St. Genis said that the city’s plan contains “fatal flaws.”

“This is a job killer, brings economic hardship to many and deters tourism, convention business and production in Los Angeles,” St. Genis said.

The first public hearing on the new rules will take place May 21 at 10 a.m. at the Deaton Auditorium in downtown L.A.