Airbnb is making it clear this week that not only does it oppose efforts by city councilors to regulate the apartments and condos it advertises, it will take the low road to do it.
In e-mail to its "friends," the company writes:
Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu has a proposal that would place unreasonable restrictions on home sharing in the city and we need your help to stop it. She has aligned with big hotel interests against the interests of regular Bostonians.
The e-mail continues the companies set up an online tool for sending pre-written complaints to city councilors and Mayor Walsh
The company claims the proof that Wu is in bed with Big Hotel is that her proposal (which City Councilor Lydia Edwards is also working on) would bar renters from subletting their units to Airbnb customers, would bar individuals from staying more than 30 days in a unit and would probably be worse for your privacy than even a poll on Facebook by requiring owners of Airbnb units to notify their neighbors and supply information to the city - although much of the information, including rental prices, would have to be supplied by Airbnb to the city, not by the unit owners.
Airbnb does not point to a large influx of campaign cash from Big Hotel to Wu, probably because state campaign-finance records show no such thing in 2018. It also doesn't note that Wu has proposed banning investor-owned units from the rental-share market completely, possibly because that would not fit in with Airbnb's alleged theory that Wu is going after the little guy.
Wu and Edwards, and before them, Sal LaMattina, argued that an unfettered room-share market in Boston is making it more and more difficult for actual Bostonians to stay in the city, as investors buy up entire buildings to rent out on Airbnb and similar platforms.
The complete Airbnb e-mail follows:
Hi [Recipient name],
Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu has a proposal that would place unreasonable restrictions on home sharing in the city and we need your help to stop it. She has aligned with big hotel interests against the interests of regular Bostonians. Will you use our speakout tool and send an email to Mayor Walsh and City Council today asking them to support responsible home sharing in Boston?
Send an email
The Wu proposal would place unnecessary restrictions on home sharing by:
• Placing a restrictive 30-day cap on unhosted stays.
• Prohibiting renters from sharing their homes, something not done anywhere else in the United States.
• Requiring notification of neighbors and that platforms like Airbnb collect and share an invasive amount of personal information putting your privacy at risk.
We know that when the collective voice of the Airbnb community is heard by lawmakers, we can stop restrictive and unnecessary laws like this from passing. That’s why sending an email to the Boston City Council today is so important.
The Airbnb Team
Sent with [love] from
888 Brannan Street, San Francisco, CA 94103