End the Criminalization of Homelessness
The City Attorney's office plays a crucial role in addressing the homelessness epidemic. Let me be clear: the criminalization of unhoused people is immoral, impractical and an abuse of the law. As LA City Attorney, I will not prosecute unhoused people for the "crime" of not having a place to live, under the legal guise of trespassing on public property, vagrancy, using city services, vandalism, failing to appear for court, sleeping on the sidewalk or the multifold other charges that have been developed to systematically criminalize poverty. The homelessness crisis cannot be dealt with through the criminal justice system. Homelessness is a housing issue, a public health issue and an economic issue and I will advocate for the development of long-term solutions and supportive services that treat the problem in those terms.
I will also commit to supporting a housing guarantee or any other policy that will ensure every Angeleno has access to housing that is affordable, safe and sustainable.
Enforce the Home Sharing Ordinance
In 2018, the LA City Council passed the Home Sharing Ordinance (HSO), which established a regulatory framework for short-term rentals. Under the HSO, short-term rentals are:
Restricted to one’s primary residence
Hosts can only rent their home for 120 days per year
Although the HSO affords the Department of City Planning (DCP) with broad powers, enforcement thus far has fallen dramatically short of expectations. For starters, DCP – along with the City Attorney’s office, which retains the authority to prosecute those who violate this order – has exclusively focused on Airbnb, allowing bad actors to move to the many other short-term rental platforms to evade detection. Secondly, DCP and the City Attorney regularly fail to respond to residents’ repeated reports of violations of the HSO – regardless of how egregious and overt – or impose the infractions, fines and registration revocations that are legally required to follow.
Short-term rentals have dramatically affected the housing market across the country, but particularly in Los Angeles. Our city is already in the midst of a housing affordability crisis. For decades, housing stock has not kept up with population growth. As a result, home ownership has become unattainable, rents have skyrocketed, commutes have grown longer and, ultimately, hundreds of thousands of Angelenos have been pushed out of their homes and onto the streets. Los Angeles needs more long-term housing – not less. The rise of the short-term rental market, however, has removed thousands of units from the rental market, exacerbating the crisis. In 2019, a study concluded that, in Los Angeles alone, 7,829 units of housing had been lost to short-term rental practices.
Organizations committed to addressing this crisis have estimated that half of the listings on Airbnb are illegal. This percentage is likely higher on other short-term rental sites. Yet in the three years since the ordinance was enacted, only 854 hosts have ever been fined, over half of these fines have not been paid, and only 2 registrations have ever been revoked.
As City Attorney, I will immediately set to work strengthening the enforcement of the HSO. I will ensure that DCP has the resources it needs to monitor all short-term rental platforms and that it employs the full scope of its powers to issue citations, impose fines and rescind registrations.