House-rich, cash-poor: why these older LA homeowners are standing with Airbnb

Debbie Pollack speaks fondly of acting in 80’s teen comedy “Sixteen Candles” and playing a “pscyhotic nun” on a daytime soap. But these days she says her most important role is that of Airbnb host.

Pollack found she could make enough extra income renting out a bedroom and her pool house so that she could keep paying the mortgage on her Sherman Oaks home. And she could still pursue acting and producing, even though work is harder to come by as a woman in her late 50s.

“My greatest income of source is my home, and if I lose both of those – honestly, it’s not an option for me,” Pollack said.

The unthinkable for home sharers has become a looming possibility as city officials move toward capping the number of days they can rent out a listing, part of a set of new rules proposed for a booming short-term rental industry. In Los Angeles, one of the world’s biggest tourist markets, Airbnb alone generates $670 million a year by the company’s count.

A call for home-sharing rules comes as the city receives complaints that short-term rentals are disrupting residential neighborhoods with the constant flow of guests. Another concern is that landlords are converting long-term rentals into more lucrative Airbnb listings, further diminishing a tight housing supply, especially in tourist-heavy neighborhoods.

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