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A Calif. man started a petition to ban Airbnb in his neighborhood -- and it worked

Andrew J. Campa, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

First came the all-night parties and music blaring from a neighbor's house in Long Beach that kept Andy Oliver up at night.

Then there were the "smoke outs," when visitors enjoying refuge from hostile cannabis laws in their home states blazed marijuana throughout the day, sending clouds of hazy smoke into Oliver's sanctuary, his house in the city's College Estates neighborhood.

The final straw was on Jan. 2, when a shooting victim climbed over his fence, bleeding and looking for shelter.

In each case, the source of Oliver's grief were tourists staying in an unhosted short-term rental next door. Such rentals are listed by homeowners who are not present during the guest's stay, as with Airbnb.

"All this happened over a year's time, and it was beginning to be too much," Oliver, 50, said. "This is a residential area, and something had to be done."

Fast-forward four months, and Oliver has successfully petitioned Long Beach's Community Development Department to ban short-term rentals within College Estates. His win also spawned nine similar petitions around the city.

 

"I don't have the final count, but there are something like 755 homes, and we just got enough signatures," Oliver said. "I heard it was close and I don't have confirmation of the final vote, but I was informed [last week] that we succeeded."

Oliver's victory was the culmination of nearly a year of work, which included trying the city's complaint hotline, speaking with a councilmember and, ultimately, founding an online advocacy group, the Long Beach Safe Neighborhood Coalition.

For months, coalition members commiserated on the social media site Nextdoor over their frustrations with the short-term rentals, gathering momentum for a ban.

"The common theme that we kept running into was that this was a big deal for many residents and almost all of us got the runaround from the city of Long Beach," Oliver said. "They didn't seem to care."

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