Despite the new calendar year, “Election 2016” is not quite over in Berkeley. Downtown residents will have another chance to cast a ballot, beginning Feb. 6, to choose the next City Council representative for the district.
Prompted by concern that too many units are being taken off Berkeley’s long-term housing market for short-term uses such as Airbnb, the City Council voted Thursday to penalize landlords who rent out multiple properties for less than two weeks.
Tonight the Berkeley City Council will vote on legalizing and regulating short-term rentals, defined as rentals which last for less than fourteen days. Currently, such rentals are illegal in Berkeley, though that hasn’t stopped multi-billion dollar companies such as Airbnb from ignoring the law. With Airbnb’s assistance, certain landlords around the state have been able to remove entire apartment buildings from the long-term rental market by converting them into illegal hotels. In Berkeley alone, 400 rent-controlled units are being used only as short-term rentals. As a result, tenants who otherwise would have been able to live long-term in these units have been displaced, worsening Berkeley’s housing emergency.
The new rules also make it clear that owners of multi-unit apartment buildings cannot rent their apartments for less than 14 days.
The Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board will consider granting a permit to demolish a 2-story, 18-unit rent-controlled apartment building on Durant Avenue at its meeting Thursday, June 25, as part of the owner’s plan to replace it with a 5-story, 56-unit building.
This is the first story in a Berkeleyside series on housing. Read the second story on rental rate increases here.