Airbnb Asks DC Council to Table Short-Term Rental Regulatory Bill

by Nena Perry-Brown

Next week, the DC Council is scheduled to have a final vote on a piece of legislation which would establish a regulatory framework for short-term rentals. Now, the company which largely inspired the legislation is asking the Council to hold off.

Today, Airbnb submitted a memo and accompanying report to the Council requesting that its members put the bill on hold until next year. The request comes shortly after the Zoning Commission requested guidance from the Office of Planning (OP) in response to the Council's petition that the Commission amend the zoning code to permit short-term rentals in residential zones, an existing prohibition which has not been enforced. In turn, Airbnb wants the Council to wait at least until the OP guidance is available.

"Not only does the bill fail to have a single co-sponsor, it's also an atrocious example of legislation that attacks the District's tourism industry; is rooted in misleading hotel-industry interests; creates an unfunded, multi-million dollar burden for D.C. families; and is not supported by D.C. voters," the letter asserts.

Airbnb Asks DC Council to Table Short-Term Rental Regulatory Bill: Figure 1
Estimated effect of the bill on the number of visitors to the District, courtesy of Airbnb. Click to enlarge.

The report goes in to detail about the above dynamics, alleging that the bill could deter up to 217,000 annual visitors, resulting in a $115 million loss in tourism revenue to DC businesses. It also questions how the bill will pay for enforcement of the new structure based on the $104 million price tag identified by the Chief Financial Officer.

The DC Council is scheduled to vote on the bill on November 13; it is unclear when OP will issue its guidance on zoning for short-term rentals.

Update: Pro-regulatory group It's Time DC conducted a study last month which rebuffs Airbnb's findings, stating that 98 percent of prospective DC visitors surveyed stated they would make other lodging arrangements if Airbnb was less available. 

“From what I’ve read, Airbnb has tried this scare tactic in every city where new regulations were being considered and most city leaders have seen through it as a false pretense,” Graylin Presbury, president of the D.C. Federation of Civic Associations, said in a statement. “We hope our D.C. Council will not be sidetracked by Airbnb’s ploys and focus on the positive impacts the proposed law will have on protecting affordable housing and neighborhoods in the city.”

See other articles related to: short-term rental, dc council, airbnb dc, airbnb

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/airbnb-asks-dc-council-to-table-short-term-rental-regulatory-bill/14674

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