Hermosa Beach Turning Away Tourists With Short-Term Rental Law

Busting Airbnb Hosts Chases Away Needed Tourism Dollars

Hermosa Beach Pier sunset
People gather to watch the sunset on the Hermosa Beach Pier.

Most beach cities – particularly in the slower fall and winter months – do things to attract tourists to its town.

It has specials on hotel prices, package deals that include things like golf or offers discounts on shopping and dining.

But not in Hermosa Beach, CA, which has basically tossed thousands of visitors per month out on the curb with its strict policy and questionable enforcement of a new short-term rental law.

It is now illegal to advertise short-term rentals in Hermosa Beach and in September the city issued some 300 citations to home owners, many of whom had tenants renting out a spare room.

The result is becoming a mess – the city’s stated policy was to issue warnings to “occupants” but never did, claiming that “occupants” are not the actual residents but the property owners – and there are several lawsuits in the works between the owners, tenants and, no doubt, eventually against the city itself.

And the fines are ridiculously expensive – $2,500 for first-time offenders!

But I’ll ignore that for the moment to focus on what this means for tourism in Hermosa Beach. It’s basically wiping it out like a big rogue wave rolling through the city.

There are very limited accommodations in Hermosa, especially near the beach. There’s only two hotels on the beach, the old Sea Sprite Motel and the plush Beach House. And neither of these is cheap; the Sea Sprite is around $250/night in the summer while the Beach House starts at around $350.

By contrast, you could get a room in a shared house (meaning the tenants are also in the house) for $75-125/night. For Airbnb’ers, this is the way to travel, for you get a comfortable place to stay and have interaction with locals who then send their visitors out to the shops, restaurants and bars, boosting the local economy.

Even by a conservative estimation based on the number of citations issued, Hermosa Beach is turning away 3,000-4,000 potential visitors per month.

Sure, there are other hotels, but they are up on Pacific Coast Highway, a half mile to a mile away from the Hermosa Beach Pier and the shops, restaurants and bars of Pier Plaza and Hermosa Ave.

The original objection to short-term rentals were property owners who were renting out their entire houses, then getting out of town. Those people were making several thousand dollars a week.

However, the city’s policy and implementation is missing that target and instead coming down hard on tenants who were simply earning a few hundred dollars a month to make up for escalating rent prices.

Hermosa Beach needs all the residents and visitors it can get, for Pier Plaza – once buzzing with activity – is now sometimes like a ghost town. Tourism dollars would help boost the economy and keep businesses in business.

So those tourists are going and spending their money elsewhere in the South Bay or even in other parts of Los Angeles. I just can’t understand why the city is turning away all these visitors.