In Miami, US Mayors Were Clear: Airbnb Needs to be Reined In

Last weekend, mayors from across the country gathered in Miami to discuss policies and issues important to US cities. Let’s take a look back at some of the highlights:

First, two major polls came out – one focused on Miami and one that looked at a diverse group of constituents from across the country. Both polls revealed bad news for Airbnb, as Americans from coast to coast agree: Airbnb should be regulated to stop the illegal hotel abuse that the site currently facilitates.

Second, at a press conference, mayors were asked about whether cities or states should control the short-term rental market. The reaction from Mayors was decisive: state preemption bills that prevent local communities from regulating short-term rentals are unwanted and unfair. According to the Miami Herald, Mayor Cornett of Oklahoma City (who happens to be the president of the Conference of Mayors) “said he resented having to hire lobbyists to ‘protect ourselves from our own state government.’”

Third, at a breakfast hosted by Politico, Mayor Levine of Miami Beach told the audience “I just don’t love Airbnb in Miami Beach.” Ouch.

Finally, a bi-partisan group of mayors from around the country were asked about Airbnb and here’s what they had to say:

  • Mayor Philip Levine, Miami Beach, FL – “Having local control and having us make those decisions on the ground level really serves the people best. I think it was President Jefferson who said it best: “Government is best when it’s closest to the people and I think that’s something we should all live by.'”
  • Mayor Michael Hancock, Denver – “You can only own one [STR] in Denver. You must be licensed and we do taxes similar to the way we do a hotel room. The idea that you can only have one [STR] in Denver and it must be your primary residence has really stunted the growth and proliferation of short-term rentals throughout our city and various neighborhoods.”
  • Mayor Susan Haynie, Boca RatonFlorida and president of the Florida League of Cities – “This is not a partisan issue. This is a quality of life issue. My constituents are upset when there’s a daily rental next door, really, with the cars and noise and partying. Mayors and councils know their cities best and we should have the ultimate power to legislate and fulfilling the needs they have and legislating what’s best for our communities.”
  • Mayor Mick Cornett, Oklahoma City –  “We need states to work with us. The issue I see in OKC and what I know others experience around the country is there seems to be some sense of an abrasive nature between state and local governments. We should not have to hire lobbyists to protect ourselves from our own state government. We’re playing defense. They’re not looking to help us. In most cases, they’re looking to hurt us.”

Despite Airbnb being a title sponsor for the event – for an undisclosed amount of money – the meeting should be a reality check for the company that helps illegal hotels flourish. The American people are watching, and Airbnb’s business as usual has to stop.