Airbnb Urges New Orleans City Council To Vote No On Motions To Ban Home Sharing
NEW ORLEANS — In advance of tomorrow’s city council meeting, Airbnb issued the following letter urging council members to vote no on motions M-18-194 and M-18-195, which were first announced on Tuesday.
M-18-195 proposes to ban new short term rental permit applications and renewals, changes that would go into effect immediately after passage.
This new motion would prevent many New Orleans residents from earning extra income through short term rentals. In New Orleans, 70 percent of hosts say hosting has helped them afford to stay in their homes.
“What we need is continued conversation, not backdoor policies passed without review,” said Airbnb Public Policy Director Laura Spanjian. “We have worked with the city for more than two years to develop and implement reasonable rules, providing numerous tools, staff time and funding. These laws are working and have resulted in a streamlined registration process, data for the city to enforce the law and millions of tax dollars being collected and remitted.”
Since the law was passed in December 2016, Airbnb has worked closely with the city of New Orleans to implement the law, including removing roughly 3,000 hosts from the platform who did not register with the city, and providing subscriber information for operators suspected of violating the law in response to administrative subpoenas.
Below is the letter sent to city council…
Members of the City Council:
We write to urge you to oppose motions M-18-194 and M-18-195 that will be before you this Thursday, May 24. Drastic actions proposed in M-18-195, with no input or transparency, will have detrimental effects on the city and the law-abiding residents of New Orleans who host to make ends meet. M-18-195 proposes to ban new STR permit applications and renewals, changes that would go into effect immediately after passage. Please vote against these proposals, and instead, continue working with us to ensure that New Orleans and its host community can continue to receive the economic benefits of home sharing.
The 2016 law created a clear regulatory framework with measures to protect neighborhoods and night caps on whole-home rentals. Since the law was passed in December 2016, after two years of discussion and negotiations, Airbnb has dedicated numerous staff resources and worked closely with the city to execute the following:
A streamlined registration system. Airbnb jointly worked with the City to develop a new pass-through registration system allowing STR operators to apply for their permits directly through the platform. During the first year, we received feedback from the City and rolled out new improvements and a renewal system. While other cities have struggled to encourage short-term rental operators to register, New Orleans has the highest compliance rate in the country, according to the city’s estimates.
Enforcement tools. As part of our commitment to New Orleans, we removed thousands of listings for which hosts did not apply for their permits through our platform or directly with the city. The 2016 law created an administrative subpoena process, which allows the city to request information from short-term rental platforms about operators suspected of violating the law. Airbnb continues to comply with these requests and has provided subscriber information for hundreds of hosts, allowing the city to enforce the laws and take action against bad actors.
Tax revenue and new funding for affordable housing. The Airbnb short-term rental community has contributed over $6 millions dollars in hotel taxes and fees for the new Neighborhood Housing Improvement Fund for affordable housing.
Education of our host community. We worked with the city to update the New Orleans Responsible Hosting Page, held numerous host registration workshops, and implemented an extensive communications campaign to ensure our hosts had the tools to comply.
The vast majority of our hosts are sharing the homes they live in and many do so in order to make ends meet. In fact, 70% of New Orleans hosts say hosting has helped them afford to stay in their homes. Short-term rentals also expand the city’s lodging capacity and allow New Orleans to welcome a growing number of visitors, capturing these visitor spending dollars and tax revenue. With Airbnb listings located throughout the city, millions of dollars are being infused into neighborhoods that haven’t traditionally benefited from tourism.
New Orleans hosted a record-breaking 10.989 million visitors last year, according to the University of New Orleans Hospitality Research Center. Allowing hosts to obtain permits for whole home rentals in commercial areas, and for up to 90 days in residential areas, allows New Orleans to welcome this growing number of visitors in a sustainable way while balancing the needs of neighborhoods, instead of forcing the city to build more chain hotels. Airbnb hosts keep 97 percent of what they charge, so when a visitor stays in a short-term rental, that money stays in the city, instead of going to out-of-town corporations that own hotels. Small mom-and-pop operators are able to support their families and create jobs.
As we have demonstrated over the past two years, Airbnb remains committed to dedicating staff resources and funding to enforce the law. We want to continue to collaborate with the city to identify new and creative ways to promote responsible tourism and hosting, and ensure New Orleans’ values are at the forefront. We respectfully ask that you oppose M-18-194 and M-18-195 while we work together to enforce the law. The issue of home sharing is complicated and deserves thoughtful discourse, as these proposed changes will drastically impact the lives of law-abiding residents in New Orleans.
All the best,
Laura Spanjian, Policy Director, Airbnb
- by Alexa Harrison, associate news editor