City Commission goes back and forth over AirBnB
Commissioner Suarez felt that the current zoning laws already prohibit AirBnB's practices of allowing for short term rentals on a continuing basis by residents and felt that the job was for zoning and law enforcement to enforce the law. In my own neighborhood we've been trying for months to have an illegal sign removed and zoning has been falling all over themselves to avoid the issue. The City does not enforce zoning codes in my humble opinion.
Commissioner Keon Hardemon said that people have been renting out properties for short term usage for years, long before there was AirBnB and an internet. He said that whether the resolution passes or not, it will still be business as usual unless the law is enforced. He said, "It's about money and profit for property owners."
Commissioner Suarez said that he does not receive complaints from residents about AirBnB being in their neighborhoods. The Mayor said that he does receive complaints.
There are about 1000 AirBnB "hosts" in residential neighborhoods according to Tom Martinelli of AirBnB, who was at the meeting. They are acting illegally according to most commissioners. Suarez asked if the city could sue AirBnb, which brings back the subject of Code Enforcement not doing their job - if the neighbors are breaking the law, why would you sue AirBnB and not the neighbors who are breaking the law?
Contradicting himself, Suarez said the platform itself is not illegal. It's the end-user who is breaking the law.
Commissioner Ken Russell described the whole AirBnB thing as "people sharing their homes." And when you think about it, what if a homeowner had friends visiting once a week or once a month but they weren't charging their guests. Would it be the same thing? Would it be illegal? I visit New York quite often, I stay in hotels up to maybe 50 days a year, although I have stayed at AirBnB locations a few times, but I could easily stay at my cousins' homes and I did many times over the years when I was younger - for as long as a month at a time sometimes. Were they breaking the law? Was I? I wasn't paying them, but I was going through the motions.
I have a neighbor who has wild parties at least once a week. They are loud and there are lots of people there. He lives there full time. Is a quiet AirBnB visitor better than a noisy permanent neighbor? So many questions.
In the end the Commission voted 3-2 in favor of the Mayor's resolution to curb AirBnB, and the City Attorney will look into the issue of being able to sue the platform itself. Suarez and Russell voted against the resolution.
Even with the Mayor getting his way regarding the new resolution, I see it as words and nothing more. If our code enforcement people don't enforce the codes, it's all a moot point.
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