Venice Beach Afflicted by the “Airbnb Problem”

If you haven’t read LA Times Columnist Robin Abcarian’s chronicle of the plague that has hit Venice Beach, which she dubs the “Airbnb problem,” read it now. The community has been struck by eviction, unruly noise, and a total disruption of its culture and people that one analyst describes as, “what makes Venice Venice.”

The threat of total destruction of this “exhilarating, funky, and diverse” beach town has been brought on by the proliferation of illegal short-term rentals propped up by Airbnb. The website InsideAirbnb estimates that at least 76% of Airbnb rentals in Venice are entire home units, which Abcarian explains means “essentially, that those units have been removed from the rental market at a moment when the city’s housing shortage is Topic A on the lips of every politician.”

Tenants tell Abcarian example after example of buildings, including rent-stabilized units, where landlords have kicked long-term tenants out, to make way for illegal hotel operations.

One tenant, Bruce Kijewski, called it “deliberate, militarized chaos…They use noise as a weapon to try to get us out.” Another tenant, Billie Mintz, added, “this used to be a community. Now we live in a residential building that’s been turned into a hotel without any regard for us. It’s a nonstop barrage of loud people.”

However, no one said it more clearly than policy expert for the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy Roy Samaan: “The city has developed processes – neighborhood councils, hearings, permits, etc., – that are meant to govern land use. You can’t just take a rent-stabilized apartment house off the market because you feel like starting a hotel.”

Unfortunately, this problem isn’t isolated to Venice Beach. As we’ve shown, communities across the country are struggling with the “Airbnb problem.” As tenants, policymakers, and experts have made clear, this is a problem that threatens affordable housing, the fabric of neighborhoods, and the very reasons tourists want to travel to these communities in the first place.

It’s about time someone called the problem what it is: an Airbnb problem.