Tonight the Anaheim City Council, led by Mayor Tom Tait, voted to eradicate an entire class of existing small businesses: short-term vacation rentals. The vote was 3-2, with Councilmen Jordan Brandman and James Vanderbilt voting to place nearly 400 short-term vacation rentals on an 18-month path to extinction just two years after adopting an ordinance expressly permitting these sharing economy enterprises. The action was taken at the behest of a vocal group of residents allied with the local hotel workers union UNITE-HERE Local 11 – despite ample evidence that complaints were overstated and a ban unnecessary.
Mayor Pro Tem Lucille Kring and Councilwoman Kris Murray voted against putting the city’s short-term vacation rentals out of business.
It’s an astonishing vote, especially from Tait, who routinely speaks of “reducing burdens on existing and prospective businesses in Anaheim, resulting in more freedom for people to achieve their dreams.” Unless that dream includes investing your family savings into operating an STR, or operating an independent (non-union) housecleaning business servicing STRs – in which case you’re out of luck.
Rendering the special city council session especially grotesque was that prior to approving the ban, Mayor Tait pushed for the total adoption of a set of onerous new regulations for STRs such as the installation of fire sprinklers and exterior doors on bedrooms – promising they could be amended or fixed if they prove too burdensome. Cold comfort to the STR owner who is being required to spend thousands of dollars to comply with these mandates even as he or she is being forced out of business in 18 months.
STRs are a political issue in Council Districts 3 and 4. Jose F. Moreno, the left-wing Chicano Studies professor running as the mayor’s candidate in District 3, is trying to ride this issue to a council seat and spoke in favor of the ban. He employed both the proletarian language of the Left – talking animatedly about “the people rising” — while invoking the Fear of the Other in complaining about “strangers” who stay at STRs. I think there’s a word for fear of strangers: xenophobia.
The District 3 incumbent, Jordan Brandman, cast a deeply disappointing vote for the ban, so whether that will even be an issue in November is an open question.
Kudos to Lucille Kring and Kris Murray for casting votes for property rights, reasonableness and allowing people running room to realize dreams. It’s unfortunate the council majority chose to kill off hundreds of small businesses rather than continuing to work with them to find the best balance. They didn’t have to do it, but they did anyway – and then wished everyone a happy Independence Day. Not a proud day for Anaheim