Venice Boardwalk vacation rentals become apartments

Los Angeles: A city-designated monument that became a short-term rental destination on the Venice Boardwalk is now leasing studio apartments to longer-term tenants.

The news comes after a crackdown by the Los Angeles City Attorney on property owners accused of illegally converting rental housing into Airbnb-style hotels.

In a court settlement from last month, Venice Beach Suites owner Andy Layman agreed to cease operating and advertising the four-storey building as a short-term rental property or hotel. He was also ordered to pay $200,000 in civil penalties.

In addition, Layman agreed to lease 25 of the 1912 building’s 30 refurbished studio apartments for no less than one month at a time.

Venice Beach Suites is subsequently offering studio apartments which provide views directly over the beach and have access to a rooftop patio for $2,180 to $3,550 per month, according to its website.

When have operators been previously accused of illegally taking properties off the rental market?

In 2016, the L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer filed suit against a number of hotel operators based in Venice and Hollywood, accusing them of illegally taking apartment buildings off the rental market to convert them into more lucrative short-term vacation rental hotels.

Some community activists have blamed Layman among others for exacerbating the city’s housing affordability crisis by removing long-term rental housing from the market. That is now prohibited under the city’s latest home-sharing ordinance which was approved in November.

To what degree was the decision politically motivated?

Layman thinks political pressure to regulate short-term rentals was a key factor in the city attorney’s prosecutions.

He said: “I think that the city was trying to use me as an example. We determined that the city has a bigger checkbook than we did.”

What will happen to the Venice Boardwalk property?

Feuer’s office also prosecuted Venice Suites owner and former president of the Chamber of Commerce, Carl Lambert, for allegedly illegally taking the Venice Boardwalk property off the rental market to accommodate short-term rentals.

However, the case was later dismissed and Lambert won the right for his property to continue operating as a hotel.

Feuer said his enforcement action against Layman was about keeping rental housing available to residents.

Feuer said in a statement: My office will do everything we can to protect L.A.’s scarce stock of affordable housing.”

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