Short term rentals—STR—have become increasingly popular, and controversial. They provide a welcome—and sometimes much-needed—source of income for some residents, and a source of aggravation for others. Local concerns include STR properties that are used as party houses, issues with parking and traffic on narrow canyon roads, and other safety issues like the campfire at an STR that allegedly ignited the Flores Fire in 2021, burning 15 acres and imperiling houses in the Saddle Peak and Tuna Canyon areas. The county has another concern: unlike hotels, STRs are not yet regulated. The County of Los Angeles is currently working to develop an STR ordinance for unincorporated Los Angeles County, including Topanga. The county’s reason for crafting an ordinance is explained by the County Tax Collector and Assessor’s office—the department that will be responsible for administering the ordinance, once a final draft is completed and approved:
The proliferation of unregulated STRs has the potential to impact affordable housing stock by reducing the overall available number of rental units available for long-term tenancy. Additionally, STRs have a tendency to negatively impact neighbor quality of life and erode neighborhood character. Complaints about loud parties, street parking impacts, and a general disregard for community hospitality are common. In very high fire severity zones, STR activity may pose public safety concerns when Guests are unfamiliar with the fire risks and evacuation routes. Therefore, the STR Ordinance is designed to strike a balance between the economic benefits of STRs and potential impacts to housing stock, quality of life for neighborhood residents, and public safety.
It’s a complex issue, and community members have strong opinions about the ordinance. The Topanga Town Council is working to gather community input on the issue and has put together a brief survey on OneTopanga.com. The survey is for people residing in the 90290 Zip Code only. The deadline is November 6.
“Our goal in disseminating this survey is to ascertain how a diverse array of people in the community feel about STRs and the nature of the Ordinance that has been drafted to regulate them in unincorporated Los Angeles County,” the TTC announcement states. ”The survey asks both general and specific questions regarding your experience with STRs, and it provides the opportunity for you to opine on several specific provisions within the draft regulation.”
In addition to the survey, the Town Council has convened an STR Working Group to help come up with possible suggestions on ways in which the Ordinance might be modified to work better for Topanga residents.
TCC is asking all community members to take some time to learn about the STR Ordinance by reading the current ordinance draft and the County’s FAQs. The TCC website has all of the links, plus a short PowerPoint presentation, and the survey. Concerned residents are encouraged to share their opinion and concerns. Visit OneTopanga.com.