"Save Airbnb in New York!" Activist Group Delivers Petition With 230,000+ Signatures

A delegation of thirty-six pro-Airbnb activists dropped by the office of New York State Senator Liz Krueger (D) this Pro-Airbnb Activists drop off a petition with NY State Sen. Liz Krueger ||| Photo by David Medeiros, courtesy of Peers.Photo by David Medeiros, courtesy of Peers.afternoon to deliver a petition with over 230,000 signatures asking that she help make it explicitly legal for New Yorkers to rent out their spare rooms through the popular short-term rental site. The group then broke off into groups and met with Krueger Chief of Staff Brad Usher, who displayed some “defensiveness,” according to one participant, but said that the senator would be open to “looking at the law."

Sen. Krueger sponsored a 2010 bill to make it illegal for landlords to rent their apartments through sites like Airbnb. The city's administrative code allows individuals to rent rooms in their apartments on a short-term basis, but only if they're at home at the same time as their guests. The law is also ambiguous on several points, including whether Airbnb hosts are responsible for collecting hotel taxes—an issue that became a cause for alarm when New York State The group is greeted by Brad Usher, Sen. Krueger's chief of staff ||| Photo by David Medeiros, courtesy of Peers.Photo by David Medeiros, courtesy of Peers.Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued a subpoena in October, requiring Airbnb to hand over a detailed list of all its hosts statewide, their bookings, and how much money they’ve earned.

Krueger press officer Andrew Goldston says the senator “is always open to having discussions about improving the law."  But recently Krueger took a hard line against Airbnb, stating that the company is putting New Yorkers “in the line of fire by recruiting them to feed its business model and participate in what is essentially a black market.” While “some may call that ‘paradigm-breaking’ or ‘disruptive’,” Krueger said, “ultimately, it’s just irresponsible and greedy.”

The petition drive is part of a week of activism aimed at liberalizing the laws governing short-term rentals in New York City, which is spearheaded by Peers, a self-described “member-driven organization that supports the sharing economy movement.” The group recently played a pivotal role in defeating a bill in Grand Rapids, Michigan that would have made it a misdemeanor for residents to advertise on Airbnb.

I wrote about New York’s Petty War on Airbnb for The Daily Beast in October, and Naomi Brockwell and I covered the story for Reason TV:

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    ...and met with Krueger Chief of Staff Brad Usher, who displayed some “defensiveness,” according to one participant, but said that the senator would be open to “looking at the law."

    Obviously, no one wants to hear from constituents. Votes and contributions, other than that, keep your pie holes shut and do what you're told.

  • R C Dean||

    "Hmmm, help lots of ordinary folks to make a little money on the side, or feed a constituency that donates scads of money to my campaign and pours millions into union coffers. Tough one."

  • playa manhattan||

    From the picture, it looks like they didn't get past the lobby.

  • ||

    "Who are you people? What are you doing here? Signatures? What for? Please leave or I'll have you all arrested for loitering."

  • Jordan||

    The petition drive is part of a week of activism aimed at liberalizing the laws governing short-term rentals in New York City

    Good luck liberalizing anything in New York.

  • Medical Physics Guy||

    Why stay in a cute, well-maintained apartment in a vibrant neighborhood at an affordable rate, when you can pay $400 a night for a bedbug infested dump in a business district that's deserted at night?

    Just because the apartment got 50 positive reviews doesn't mean it's up to code!

  • Agammamon||

    And think, you're AirBnB rental may not be as great as the ad said - If it weren't for government how would you be able to remedy that?

  • Rhywun||

    Duh - we just have city inspectors grade every room in the city.

  • John C. Randolph||

    Krueger is a self-absorbed cunt of the Dianne Feinswine variety. She couldn't care less how many people get fucked over by a statute she sponsors that benefits bribe-payers at the expense of the traveling public. Presenting her with a petition will have no effect at all, unless her handlers decide that the negative publicity outweighs the value of the bribes she gets from the hotels.

    When she tosses off terms like "black market" to describe the free exchange of value for money between people on a voluntary basis, you know she's full of shit.

    -jcr

  • R C Dean||

    Her use of the term "black market" shows her for the totalitarian that she is:

    Nothing outside the State, nothing against the State, everything for the State.

  • ||

    I do believe that a homeowner in a residential zone should be able to rent 1 or 2 bedrooms to guests for less than 30 days at a time. To do so the homeowner should pay a modest annual license fee (say $100) and collect local lodging tax, and be required to be present during the guests stay to supervise the property and the guests. Such airbnb listings typically have nightly rates below those that can be offered by local hotels.

    However, the problems come when the homeowner does not live in the property and is therefore not able to supervise the property or the guests. These include apartments, condos and houses where the owner or a manager does not reside. Is there an emergency plan in case of a fire? Do the neighbors have a phone number to call if the unsupervised guests get out of hand? Does the condo association know that keys and access codes are being given out to short-term renters? And some of these rentals have high rates of $200 to $800 per night. These owners have decided that renting for short-term stays is more profitable than month-to-month rentals However, such short-term rentals deplete the local rental market. When a residential property goes "commercial" in this way there must be more demanding requirements for licensing.

  • ||

    I live in a Portland, Oregon with a population of 800,000. There are hundreds of airbnb type listings and many are not owner occupied and rent for $150 per night an up -- high-end for Portland. Portland is losing over $1,000,000 a year in lodging taxes and license fees. This is because airbnb pays lip service to helping municipalities enforce local codes. The problem is that enforcement of local codes is currently "complaint driven". So some property owners get shut own while others do not. To be of assistance airbnb should provide sufficient information to the municipality so that the municipality can identify and contact those who list properties. (This could be limited to the name, address, phone and e-mail associated with each listing.) Currently it is impossible to do get this information from the airbnb website except to pretend to be a potential guest.

  • ||

    I live in a Portland, Oregon with a population of 800,000. There are over 1,000 airbnb type listings and many are not owner occupied and rent for $150 per night an up - high for Portland. Portland is losing over $1,000,000 a year in lodging taxes and license fees. This is because airbnb pays lip service to helping municipalities enforce local codes. The problem is that enforcement of local codes is currently "complaint driven". So some property owners get shut own while others do not. To be of assistance airbnb should provide sufficient information to the municipality so that the municipality can identify and contact those who list properties. (This could be limited to the name, address, phone and e-mail associated with each listing.) Currently it is impossible to do get the identifying information necessary to file a complaint from the airbnb website except to pretend to be a potential guest.

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