As a certain mayoral candidate who took a giant pile of money from the anti-Carriage Horse lobby can attest, the Winds Of Popular Fortune are cruel and capricious. Just a few months ago Airbnb was the tidy, technological caulk in the cracks of New Yorkers' bank accounts. Now City Councilmembers and The New York Times are part of a mounting backlash instigated in part by the hotel workers lobby. O these Airbnb Wars!
More temporary guests inhabiting permanent residences in New York means a smaller housing stock, which flies in the face of Mayor de Blasio's plan to increase the amount of affordable housing in the city. According to the Daily News, Josh Gold, who represents the New York Hotel Trades Council, reminds sympathetic councilmembers of this. Gold was recently hired by the mayor for roughly three months to push his pre-K agenda in Albany.
Gold gets results. Now Councilmember Jumaane Williams, the chairman of the City Council's Housing Committee, wants a hearing on Airbnb. Councilmember Brad Lander is also sounding skeptical about the service: “There’s a lot of concern in the Council about Airbnb’s impact on neighborhoods and housing affordability."
The Times hits on this in their editorial, The Dark Side of the Sharing Economy:
There are good reasons that governments regulate housing. For example, officials use zoning laws to separate hotels and residential development so apartment buildings are not overrun by tourists. Rent control policies exist to help ensure that lower-income tenants have a place to live. Laws against short-term rentals make sure landlords do not operate illegal hotels and reduce the number of apartments available to permanent residents.
[Airbnb's] position seems disingenuous, especially since it removed 2,000 listings from clients who had multiple listings after the subpoena was issued. If the company is serious about its commitment to “making cities better,” it should provide Mr. Schneiderman data that would help officials go after people who knowingly break the law. To allay privacy concerns, it could ask the court to limit the amount of information it turns over and require officials to keep the data confidential.
Liam Neeson hasn't offered up the spare room at his Park Millenium condo...yet.