Regulating Vacation Rentals — Don’t Forget About Small Business Owners

Los Angeles and its many unique communities have long benefited from the economic activity whole-home vacation rentals bring to the city. When it comes to regulating these short-term rentals, the conversation isn’t just about Los Angeles homeowners and travelers — it’s also about the small business owners that rely on the commerce generated by a boosted tourism economy.

When families choose accommodations that allow them to stay under one roof for a reasonable price, they’re left with more money to spend on other aspects of their vacation, touring the sites and experiencing the city’s culture.

For example, a 2014 study found that for every $100 a traveler spent on lodging in Los Angeles, they spent an additional $97 on food, $69 on local transportation, $52 on recreation activities, and $28 on retail shopping in the area. This means more income for the local restaurants, boutique stores, and corner coffee shops.

For Los Angeles’ small business owners, a healthy vacation rental environment can mean the difference between closing shop and thriving.

With online platforms making it easier for families to book whole-home rentals in areas outside the traditional tourist area of town, smaller mom-and-pop shops and the hidden neighborhood gems are starting to reap benefits from tourism. And the numbers aren’t small.

A study in 2014 found STRs accounted for a total $1.4 billion in total economic activity, supporting more than 12,300 Los Angeles jobs. And that number will continue to grow as the vacation rentals that have been around for decades become more easily accessible via online platforms.

Vacation rentals cater to a different kind of customer than hotels, bringing business to parts of town untouched by hotel travelers, and expanding the tourism economy. Effectively banning them will not only hurt investments made by hard working Los Angelenos, but also rock businesses supported by vacation rental tourism, potentially dampening the market for the long-term.

LA’s tourism policy shouldn’t lock the city into only hotel accommodations for travelers. We shouldn’t create a Hotel California. Fostering more choices means business and opportunity for all.