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County Works to Close Short Term Rental Loopholes 

Changes are coming to how Los Angeles County deals with short term rentals (STRs), and those changes will impact everyone who operates an STR in the county’s unincorporated area, including much of Topanga Canyon.

The new regulations are still being developed, with the goal of “striking a balance between the economic benefits of STRs and the potential impacts to housing stock, neighborhood character, and quality of life for residents.”

It’s a challenging issue; one that communities throughout the coastal zone are rushing to address with mixed results. The city of Long Beach successfully adopted their STR ordinance; the city of Malibu’s plan was requested by the California Coastal Commission.

It is estimated that there are around 1,900 STRs in the County’s Unincorporated Area. The county’s ordinance so far includes limits on the number of days a home can be used as an STR when a host is not present—no more than 90 days per calendar year, and the number of guests that can be accommodated—two adult guests per bedroom with a maximum occupancy of four adult guests, excluding children under 18 years. 

The proposed county ordinance limits STRs to primary residences, and a host must reside at the residence for a minimum of nine months per year. No vacation style rentals would be permitted. Homes with no primary resident cannot be used exclusively for short term rentals. Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are prohibited for STR use, regardless of the ADU’s size. So are all other accessory habitable structures of any kind, including guesthouses, recreation rooms, tents, and yurts.

It may be challenging to quantify or enforce, but the ordinance stipulates that STRs “must not adversely affect the residential character of the neighborhood nor generate noise, vibration, glare, odors, or other effects that unreasonably interfere with any person’s reasonable enjoyment of his or her residence.”

The ordinance would also mandate that all STR guests must pay the 12 percent County Transient Occupancy Tax. A 24/7 STR Hotline would be established for complaints. 

More information is expected to be released by the county before the end of the year. For more information, visit

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