New York’s “progressive” pols are again going to bat for deep-pocketed special-interest groups against little guys trying to make a few extra bucks — Airbnb hosts.
A City Council bill would force the apartment-sharing service to turn over the names and addresses of all its New York City hosts so officials can crack down on units with “violations” — even when those breaches have nothing to do with their Airbnb listing.
A similar law in San Francisco killed half the listings there, as thousands of would-be hosts quit rather than try to fight City Hall.
Critics claim they want to keep hosts from “warehousing” units — using them year-round as illegal hotels rather than for permanent residences. But they offer zero credible evidence this is a big problem.
City Comptroller Scott Stringer, for example, just dropped a “study” claiming Airbnb units have caused average rent hikes of as much as $100 (over seven years!) in some neighborhoods. Yet it made elementary errors, such as counting every listing, even inactive ones and those rented for just a few nights a year, as a home “kept off the market” — wildly skewing the results.
The company notes that its average unit is rented out just 62 nights a year. Clearly, most hosts are everyday New Yorkers, typically tenants looking to help pay their bills.
Why do local pols really want to crack down? To please hotel-industry fatcats and unions that detest Airbnb competition — and donate heavily to the pols’ campaigns. Politico reports that the Hotel Trades Council forked over nearly $100,000 during the 2017 election cycle.
A punitive (and otherwise pointless) state law already requires hosts to stay home when renting for less than 30 days. And the city has been trying to intimidate hosts, Airbnb reports: “All across the city, we have heard from dozens of families . . . who have faced harassment.”
If New York’s politicians really cared about the little guy, they’d help Airbnb expand. And tell Big Hotel to deal with competition, like everyone else.
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