One-Fifth of California AirBnb Rentals in Fire Risk Areas

An analysis of Airbnb properties across the state shows that despite the high fire risk in many parts of the state, the company and hosts frequently don’t provide adequate warning and evacuation instructions to guests.

May 19, 2022, 8:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

“Across California, thousands of short-term Airbnb rentals operate in the state’s most hazardous fire zones, but the company does not provide warnings or evacuation information to guests when they make a reservation, a Los Angeles Times analysis has found.” 

According to an article by Ben Poston and Alex Wigglesworth, “More than 23,000 California Airbnb listings were in wildfire-prone areas in January, accounting for about 20% of the company’s short-term rentals in the state, The Times’ analysis shows.” Yet “The Airbnb website doesn’t routinely alert customers when properties are in a wildfire hazard zone. Many rental hosts ban smoking, fireworks, charcoal grills or campfires but don’t specifically mention wildfire risks.” Moreover, “Some customers say the company’s policies actually incentivize people to travel to areas near active wildfires, potentially clogging evacuation routes and burdening emergency responders.”

Some cities are taking action to implement stricter regulations for short-term rental hosts. In Malibu, “Hosts are now required to post a code of conduct in rental units telling guests the city is located entirely within the highest fire hazard area. It also tells renters which evacuation zone the property is in, and lists a city website that provides evacuation information.” In Truckee, “Short-term rental operators must post an evacuation map on-site, as well as a flier that notifies guests they’re staying in a high-risk area for fire and tells them how to sign up for emergency alerts,” and rental properties face mandatory inspections every three years.

Sunday, May 15, 2022 in Los Angeles Times

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