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New Orleans council puts pause on new short-term rentals in mixed-use areas

New Orleans City Hall
Carly Berlin
New Orleans City Hall

New Orleans City Council placed a temporary moratorium on new commercial short-term rental permits in certain historic, mixed-use zones, a move aimed at stemming investors from scooping up properties as the city overhauls its rules governing STRs in residential areas.

“If we don’t closely police how commercial expansion is going – in the midst of us targeting residential for significant revision – some projects could get ahead of us,” said council president JP Morrell at Thursday’s council meeting.

The move, technically called an “Interim Zoning District,” goes into effect immediately, and effectively puts a pause on all new short-term rentals in areas zoned “Historic Neighborhood Mixed Use” or “HU-MU” in the zoning code. The same motion also asks the City Planning Commission to consider prohibiting commercial STRs in these areas altogether.

Curious about your area’s zoning? You can look it up here.

Historic, mixed-used zones include many areas that function like neighborhood main streets: parts of Oak Street, Freret Street, and segments of Canal and Broad streets in Mid-City, among many others.

Historically, commercial short-term rentals have been allowed in these areas, which typically have a mix of homes and businesses. This move places a year-long moratorium on new commercial STR permits there. There’s already a ban on new residential short-term rental permits citywide, as the city council prepares to pass new laws governing STRs in residential areas before the end of March.

At recent public meetings, housing advocates and neighborhood leaders have urged the council to address the issue of short-term rentals in mixed-use zones, warning that investors could buy up properties there en masse as the city changes its rules in residential neighborhoods.

Many residents also sounded the alarm after developers chose to scrap an affordable housing plan and build dozens of new short-term rentals in a mixed-use area of Central City in January, NOLA.com reported.

Maxwell Ciardullo, policy and communications director at the Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center, applauded the council’s move on Thursday, but urged them to expand the moratorium to parts of the Marigny and Bywater that aren’t covered by it now because they’re under a different zoning designation.

“The one glaring that will remain to be exploited after this passes are the mixed-use areas of the Bywater and Marigny, which are under some of the greatest pressure,” he said.

City council is under a tight timeline to pass new regulations for residential short-term rentals, after a federal appeals court found a key provision in the city’s existing laws unconstitutional last year. The council’s next meeting on this matter is Tuesday, March 14.

Though they’re focused on crafting those new rules now, council members have signaled that they plan to re-consider the city’s commercial short-term rental rules down the line.

Carly Berlin is the New Orleans Reporter for WWNO and WRKF. She focuses on housing, transportation, and city government. Previously, she was the Gulf Coast Correspondent for Southerly, where her work focused on disaster recovery across south Louisiana during two record-breaking hurricane seasons. Much of that reporting centered on the aftermath of Hurricanes Laura and Delta in Lake Charles, and was supported by a grant from the Pulitzer Center.

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