News & Politics

Is This the End for Airbnb in NYC?

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At the end of this month, Governor Andrew Cuomo could effectively end Airbnb in New York as we know it, making illegal the posting online of whole apartments for under thirty days, by signing into law new legislation that would impose steep fines for those that do. In response, Airbnb has been flooding New York state senate and assembly races with money, and yesterday, revealed a set of proposals that would regulate the home-sharing site but leave its operations mostly intact.

In an op-ed yesterday by paid shill and Clinton-ista Chris Lehane, Airbnb argues that the law is unfairly targeting middle-class New Yorkers.

“There’s a better way forward,” Lehane wrote. “By embracing policies that promote responsible home-sharing, we will not only help New Yorkers who share their homes to pay the bills, but support small businesses in neighborhoods far outside traditional tourist zones like Midtown Manhattan.”

The four proposals that Airbnb outlines include limiting each resident to only a single listing, creating a statewide registry for hosts on Airbnb, a vague set of conditions that landlords could put into leases, and new taxes that could go to pay for affordable housing. But this all might be far too little, too late. In a conference call yesterday, state lawmakers made clear that they’re not backing off the legislation. “[Their] entire business model is predicated on breaking the law,” said State Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal, according to Gothamist.

Left with just an outside shot to convince Cuomo to veto the legislation, and an intransigent state legislature, what’s a billion dollar corporation to do? Flood local elections with money, of course.

This week, Airbnb unveiled its first local ad buy from Stronger Neighborhoods, its political action committee. Airbnb pumped in $11 million to Stronger Neighborhoods just this week, and is targeting upstate Republican Sue Serino, who voted for the legislation that would effectively outlaw Airbnb in NYC.

The sinister voiceover sends some serious shade New York City’s way: “Two years ago, Sue Serino claimed she wanted to help middle class families. Then she went to Albany and joined New York City special interests to restrict the rights of taxpaying homeowners.”

Ouch.

Josh Meltzer, Head of New York Public Policy for Airbnb gave us this statement:

We want to make sure that our hosts know we’re in their corner, and that both our critics and our allies hear their voices this November and beyond. The hotel industry is spending tens of millions of dollars to buy influence in Albany and launch an endless barrage of misleading attacks to vilify the 46,000 New York hosts who rely on home sharing as an economic lifeline.