Council votes to ban investor-owned Airbnb units, but rejects limit on how long homeowners can rent out units

UPDATE: Walsh said he will sign the ordinance.

The Boston City Council today approved, 11-2, a proposed law that would bar investors from renting out apartments and condos on Airbnb and similar Web sites but which would let owners who live in two- and three-family houses - buildings with five or fewer units - rent out space 365 days a year.

Councilors Mark Ciommo (Allston/Brighton) and Frank Baker (Dorchester) voted against.

The measure now goes to Mayor Walsh, who has backed a ban on investor-owned units but who wanted to limit homeowners to renting out units to 120 days per year. The measure requires people who rent out units to pay an annual fee to the city and let their neighbors know - and requires the city to collect and publish data on short-term rentals.

Councilor Matt O'Malley (Jamaica Plain/West Roxbury) sought, unsuccessfully, to put the 120-day limit back in the proposed ordinance, saying the investor ban would push Airbnb units out of downtown neighborhoods and into outer neighborhoods, making them even harder for moderate-income renters to find a place to live. Councilor Michelle Wu (at large), agreed, saying she is concerned about a new class of "horizontal hotels" on entire blocks, maintained by intermediary companies that take over management of home-share units in exchange for a cut of the profit.

But Baker said there's no proof that would happen and led a successful 7-6 effort to strike keep the 120-day limit out. Councilor Kim Janey (Roxbury) said that would let some of her constituents make some much needed money - in some cases to help subsidize other tenants.

Baker, Campbell, Ciommo, Edwards, Flaherty, Janey and McCarthy voted against the 120-day limit; Essaibi George, O'Malley, Pressley, Wu and Zakim voted for. Flynn, who initially voted against, later changed his vote to yes.

Ciommo voted against the 120-day limit even though he agreed with O'Malley and Wu the result will be increased pressure in outer neighborhoods. But he said the answer was to instead allow a small number of investor-owned units to be rented out on home-share sites, to create competition between downtown and outer neighborhoods. And he said the horror stories about landlords evicting all their tenants to make ad-hoc hotels is better addressed through zoning changes. But his proposal was also rejected.

People who rent subsidized units and owners of units in designated "problem properties" or which have had more than a set number of code violations over six months would be barred from renting out space.

Exempted from the ordinance: Lodging houses, bed-and-breakfasts and investor-owned units specifically meant for institutional and business uses.

The council approved the measure despite an increasingly shrill campaign by Airbnb that featured attacks on Wu and attempts to get Airbnb users who live in Boston to complain to the councilors.

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Comments

Yes

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Fixed to make that clearer, thanks.

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Editor!

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I don't think Matt O'Malley actively represents Dorchester.
"...a successful 7-6 effort to strike keep the 120-day limit" is unclear.
The final line of the story left me hanging....

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Fixed

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Man, how in the world did I make that stupid mistake?

As for the story just ending, fixed as well; that's what happens when you hand-code HTML and are sloppy about it.

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Hey Michelle

I know you post here. When pontificating about "horizontal hotels", did you consider that vertical hotels exist? What do you think will happen as their vacancy rates increase? How do you think the humans who own and run existing vertical hotels will respond?

Do you believe that the increase in available lodging properties in Boston offered through Airbnb is outpacing the visitor demand for lodging in Boston? You realize that Boston receives a finite number of visitors, right?

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Do you know what she's talking about?

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The difference is vertical hotels are tightly regulated by the city - by your pals at the Boston Licensing Board, in fact. They also typically need approval from the BPDA and/or the zoning board, as well as the Fire Department and ISD to open in the first place.

Compare that to a series of two-family homes right on, oh, your block. There's no inspection going on, no zoning oversight, no nothing.

That's the difference between a traditional hotel and a series of apartments rented out on Airbnb.

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I use Airbnb

I make no considerations as to what regulations the relevant municipality has or doesn't have in place when I make my lodging selection. I've used the service twice, both times to the mutual satisfaction of both parties.

I wish I was better understood in print. The rhetorical scenario I present is one in which there are so many Airbnb's without government restriction on the market in Boston, hotels, faced with the prospect of having an empty building that costs them money no matter what sitting there, finds a new use for its space, such as making the rooms available as rental units at competitive prices.

See? I answered the questions myself. Maybe elect me to the 100K a year job. Would be a raise for me.

EDIT: Of course the hotel is regulated. It's a giant building where you have to get hundreds of people out if there's a fire. I'm not worried about that in somebody's residence. And I sure as hell didn't ask for government to get in my way. Any citizen who opposes Airbnb because DURR REGULATIONS is completely missing the point and/or forcing a false analogy.

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OK, but show me the empty hotel rooms in Boston

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I don't think too many hotel owners in Boston are suffering.

And while I realize you seem to dislike regulations in general, there are reasons to support them beyond just making the city money through a new fee: Do you check to make sure the smoke detectors in your Airbnb are working?

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Hell, Gaffin

We're clearly approaching this issue from two different planets.

there are reasons to support them beyond just making the city money through a new fee

That's not a reason I support regulations at all! That's a reason why I would vehemently oppose them! Why does Boston need more money? Why doesn't it just spend less money instead?

I cut items from my budget when my income is reduced. Why can't a city?

As for the smoke alarms, no, I don't inquire about those. Good thing I vacation in California where they don't have any fires.

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agreed

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Completely agree. Why do we even need a city government? Or a state or federal government for that matter? If they didn't exist we wouldn't have to pay all those stupid taxes and fees for stuff that we pretend we don't use, but actually completely depend on, like roads, or police, or firemen.

But I digress, however I would like to not so sarcastically address this incredibly illogical, and just plain ridiculous, gem:

"The rhetorical scenario I present is one in which there are so many Airbnb's without government restriction on the market in Boston, hotels, faced with the prospect of having an empty building that costs them money no matter what sitting there, finds a new use for its space, such as making the rooms available as rental units at competitive prices."

So what you're saying is we should deregulate AirBNB "hotels" to the point where actual hotels go out of business, at which point the hotels would be forced to transition to rental units?

OR - The rental units that were designed, permitted, and inspected as rental units stay as rental units, and the hotels that were designed, permitted, and inspected as hotels just stay hotels.

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HAHAHAHAHAHA

There it is! The roads argument! What pristine conditions our streets are in!

If paying MA a 5.15% income tax, and paying Boston a 6.25% sales tax leaves you with the roads we have now, at what price do you get ones that aren't crap?

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ok then

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Please present a viable and logical alternate to government managed roads.

You keep harping on the whole roads thing, but I've never seen you present an alternate solution. I'm very curious, really.

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I could share with you

The work of guerrilla road crews which I've read about.

Maybe government could be better at maintaining roads. They do it well enough, but is it good enough for the price we all pay?

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We would have better roads if

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We would have better roads if drivers weren't paying less and less in gas tax every year.

Just because you occasionally see a pothole doesn't mean taxes are bad.

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Hey, the fire dept isn't making any money

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for the city. Lets close down half the stations and privatize the rest. When you call them and your house is on fire, you'll need your Fire Insurance policy number handy, so they know you can pay for the fire-putting-out. And I bet the low wage workers with no union to make sure they are well compensated and cared for will do their damnedest to save your cat while they're at it. (I just assume a basement dweller like yourself has a cat, hope I'm not being presumptuous)

Welcome to WIll's Libertarian Paradise everyone!

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Okay

You have fun paying $150 a night for lodging because government artificially restricted your choice. I want to not participate in that. Say yes to freedom and voluntary choices.

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"What is Aleppo?"

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It's an insult. You're being obtuse in your argument. Basically what you're saying with Boston charging fees is that you FEEL like Boston makes too much money. Well, Will, you said that you wanted the $100k City Councilor job and that that would be a raise for you. Well, I FEEL like you ALREADY make too much money. Therefore you should make LESS money because that's what I FEEL and BELIEVE.

You present nothing in your belief that substantiates it. That's why it's so ridiculous.

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Ah, Aleppo

We're all wringing our hands over how the Cheeto is being mean to Canada and Germany while kissing ass to Russia and North Korea. Meanwhile, I voted for a guy who was just fine ignoring them almost entirely, yet, that was grounds for derision and even disqualification from the job.

The guy who bragged about stiffing contractors and is a greedy self-centered con artist was qualified to be the President, the guy who failed an on-the-spot world geography test one time in a live interview was reflexively deemed unfit. P-O-T-A-T-O-E is so delightfully quaint in the rear view mirror.

I said during the election that be it Trump or be it Hillary, this country will get the president that it deserves. And we have that. America deserves Trump. I don't like him, but this country deserves him.

I don't deserve him.

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And the popular vote would speak otherwise. The majority of the voting populace didn't deserve this and this is a hot take. Not that this has anything to do with what we were talking about...

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Unfortunately

The popular vote is tits on a bull. The people who make our cars and corn get weighted properly, and they threw their weight behind a guy who doesn't care about them.

The two greediest, most self-centered people to ever possibly run got 95% of the vote. France managed to stop voting for the same parties repeatedly. No American voter ever gets to make fun of France for anything ever again.

You really

are a Johnson fan, aren't you? Why does that not surprise me, as Johnson was constantly writing checks with his mouth that his brain couldn't cash.

See the similarities?

Johnson ain't what he used to be

He was a successful businessman - way more so than Drumpf considering that he did not inherit wealth - and did a reasonable job of governing a small state according to the principles he espoused, including government out of the bedroom and women's bodies. Small government works pretty well when you have a small place to practice it in.*

Then he fell off his paraglider and broke his brain, and its been rotting out into batshit crazy space ever since.

*FTR, I find such "small government" stuff very much akin to "Small is Beautiful" thinking beloved of sappy hippies who lack a practical sense of proportion: small works where things are already small, and really doesn't scale.

Ha ha ha!

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When a city is forced to spend less money, due to severe budget cuts, the city, as a whole suffers. Vital services, including fire & police protection,. snow removal in the winter time, programs to help poor and elderly people, and public transportation, to mention afew things, get cut drastically. People should not have to live with compromised services, especially because people don't like regulations.

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Nor should people

Have to live with overpriced services.

Remember: Your City Council voted itself a raise a couple of years ago. Did you get a raise last year? I haven't gotten one in eight years.

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Ooh Ooh Ooh, Pick Me!

Because Will is lazy and regualrly screws around on the job instead of doing work? At least we get a road with taxes, Will milks private businesses like its a personal food stamp line.

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Ok, I admit that this is the

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Ok, I admit that this is the coal calling the kettle black (or maybe throwing rocks in a glass house?), but maybe some of us would get a raise if we weren't all screwing around on local blogs all throughout the workday.

Boston is actually hurting

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Boston is actually hurting for hotel space, although that may be turning around with the new builds that've gone up in the last three years. There's a significant lack in rooms for the metro area, though

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Oh, come on now!

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Boston, as a city, is hurting far more for lack of affordable housing, lack of green space in many areas, and an inadequate and antiquated public transportation system, inadequate services for the poor and elderly, and an inadequate public school system than it is for the lack of hotels.

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I don't use Airbnb

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You make no consideration to regulations obviously. As a resident, I care that the hotels pay taxes the help my city. It is a consideration for me if a whole bunch of unregulated rooms come on the market that siphon off that tax income - income that goes to our roads, schools, tuesday morning trash pickup and everything public.

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Just imagine

What we'd get if we didn't overpay for what we have.

My hometown (Burlington, VT) spent an insane amount of money to get a superintendent into the country from his native Canada. Meanwhile, the budget is now north of $60 million. 20 years ago, it was $28 million. Did the schools double in quality? That's well past any marker of inflation.

Please elaborate

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Please explain your solution to this problem you keep citing. Is it privatizing everything? Is it withholding taxes? Is it a coup?

See it's really easy to sit here and say "we shouldn't do this" or "this doesn't work," but not once, on any thread, have you ever proposed any kind of solution. Still waiting on what your solution would be to stop "overpaying" for services.

When I asked for your solution on overpaying for roads, you brought up some ambiguous "guerilla road crews" like that would be an actual solution. It's pretty clear you don't actually have one for any of these complaints, and you just live in your libertarian fantasy world.

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Easy

I would stop overpaying for services by not overpaying for services.

The statie who pulled me over three weeks ago makes $96,000 a year. Tell him he gets $50,000 next year, or he can pursue private security. How about we try that? I made $26,000 last year and I eat.

As for the example I cited above, maybe get a superintendent for whom you don't have to pay international relocation expenses while you wait for the federal government to let him in!

lol

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"The statie who pulled me over three weeks ago makes $96,000 a year. Tell him he gets $50,000 next year, or he can pursue private security."

So who's going to tell him? And let's say he does. And so does every other cop. Now we have no public police force, and the only police force is privatized and requires a fee for their service. What happens when you can't afford the fee? Are you out of luck? Do you now not get safety or justice?

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How about his boss?

"We're cutting back, and your services are no longer needed." Happens all the time in the private sector, which I don't pay almost six figures to deputize armed men to chase me on my way to work.

But on the other side of the coin, maybe Bill Evans doesn't go around deciding who gets a gun and who doesn't. I'll defend myself for free.

I have no problem paying people with guns to defend me. I do have a problem with them making $96,000 through fiat and then harassing me instead of harassing my enemies.

As for whether or not people get justice, they don't get that from cops now. Ask Eric Garner's family.

Here's a suggestion, Will La Tulippe:

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Why don't you try not speeding in order to drive to work, and get an early enough start in the morning so that you won't think it's necessary to drive too fast in order to get to work on time?

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Good Thing Will Publically Posts His Life Story

Weren't speeding? You openly admitted that you were driving 70 in a 55. Here's a verbatim post you made about this incident. I have not changed a thing between these quotation marks :

" Ladies and gentlemen, I submit to you to the most bullshit citation ever given to a driver in the history of the Massachusetts State Police:

Me (signals, checks clearance, makes left lane change on 128)

Statie (comes up behind me in that far left lane)

Me (changes lanes to let statie pass)

Statie (changes lanes with me, puts on blues, we stop on the shoulder)

Statie: License and registration...

Me (hands him documents)

Statie: "Do you know why I pulled you over?"

Me: "I don't" (I mean, I'm doing 70 in a 55, but that doesn't get you pulled over around here)

Statie: "Do you always change lanes aggressively like that?"

Me: (not taking the bait) "Did I not signal?"

Statie: "It doesn't matter if you signaled or not. That driver behind you had to brake, and I had to brake."

Me: (no response)

Statie: "You're not doing yourself any favors right now. Are you going to take any responsibility?"

Me: (silence)

For Chrissakes, this guy should have been wearing a khaki hat and hip boots for all the baiting he was doing.

1) Yeah, Obie, I'm going to admit to any kind of fault at the scene and without a lawyer. I've met smarter cops.

2) Did you pull over the driver you accused me of cutting off to get their testimony? This matter is going to court, after all.

3) If making another driver tap their brakes is grounds for a $105 fine, we could have solid gold streets and a Harvard-level college education for every citizen in the Commonwealth.

4) No seriously, Barney Fife, how would that work? By your logic, somebody could, in far more tangible violation of the law, sit a car length off me in the left lane, fail to pass, and box me in. Hell, the state ran a campaign last year stating that they would enforce failure to pass with greater emphasis.

See you in civil court, Gary Sacco. I'm glad the Commonwealth paid you $96,980.57 last year (while I made $26,000) to hand me a $105 fine that I have to pay $25 to contest in court. It says "marked lanes violation" on the ticket. Trooper Sacco misspelled "contempt of cop.""

Okay, I'm back again. That was a direct quote from Will LaTulippe. Maybe if we want a society free from government, the pushers for that should start taking accountability and responsibility for the things I do. Will was speeding and driving erratically and still blames the government.

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"Publically"

Schoolchildren spell better than you. Soak that in.

Thank you for your readership of my material.

Will LaTulippe Is A Liar

Soak that in.

You're right Will, you spell better than me. You got me!

You're spelling was on point when you lied about speeding and reckless driving. No errors. Unlike your driving. Which had so many errors they fired you from Uber for being a dangerous driver.

You were grammatically on point with your poignant comment that your idea of math and eugenics were the same. This is well after you got fired for posting racism. Your commas were in the right place though!

Are are a grammar and a real Nazi?

I'll take having to use the red squiggly spelling line a few times and occasionally spelling something wrong, it's not my best category.

I take responsibility for my shortcomings. You just lie about them.

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Good old Uber

That entity (which didn't employ me) where they pay $1.24 a mile? Good riddance. They made a decision based on hearsay. I haven't the inclination to (expletive) with them. If you think that the quality of my life has declined since Uber decided to no longer "partner" (LOL) with me, you are mistaken.

My life is still pretty damn great. The weather is fine, the ladies look wonderful, and it's a warm day in a great place to live.

Have a nice night. I hope you make something productive of your life someday.

Competition

Competition for even smaller suburban district Superintendents drives even small time wages up north of $150K

My urban community just cut a contract for around $200k - the going rate for a district of similar size.

Do Libertarians believe in the laws of supply, demand, and free market? No? Because that's what drives up salaries for qualified people when there is a shortage of available workers.

Severely Disappointed...

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...in the two councilors who voted against this measure, and with those who fought against the 120 day limit. I can only assume Ciommo and Baker were paid by some of those investors to try to derail the implementation of a much needed law.

Unfortunately, even if this gets put into affect by Walsh, there is still going to be an enforcement issue. The only people who are going to have any luck in stomping out these illegal hotels are those living in condo complexes where the condo rules already prevent such short term leasing, allowing the residents to report suspicious traffic to the management company. Meanwhile... entire buildings, where there is no one to report the offenders, will continue to operate unrestrained.

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Those will stick out like a sore thumb

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entire buildings, where there is no one to report the offenders, will continue to operate unrestrained.

There WILL be some individual locations that will fly under the radar, but I doubt that whole buildings will continue to operate. A) Said buildings will still have neighboring buildings full of people who just love to drop a dime. B) If the city hires an $11 an hour intern to troll the Airbnb website, most of the big operators will be pretty easy to identify and close down.

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If you accept $11 an hour

To do the bidding of billion dollar hotel companies and millionaire homeowners through a government ostensibly working on their behalf, you're a schmuck.

I mean, do what you gotta do to eat, but you're a schmuck. What would people get paid to do jobs if the population of America was 10 million? Even 100 million?

Appreciate Ciommo's taking a position

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Glad my councilor, mark ciommo voted the way he did. As one of many owners of only 1 multi-family property in his district I appreciate his understanding that for us the option of air bnb'ing our units might be the income we need to keep our heads above water. And if anyone really thinks that getting rid of air bnb is going to help the rental market , I'd love to see the proof of that.

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Evidence from Airbnb in Boston

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Is Home Sharing Driving Up Rents? Evidence from Airbnb in Boston
by Mark Merante, UMass Boston, MA Economics 2016 and Keren Mertens Horn, UMass Boston, Assistant Professor of Economics

Page 21-22

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Well the real issue...

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Is that you would rent that unit at all, short or long term. You're not supposed to own property to make money, you're supposed to own property to live in. I'd vote for the first person running for that seat who would institute owner occupancy requirements.

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huh?

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You're not supposed to own property to make money, you're supposed to own property to live in.

You win the absurd comment of the day award (and you had some stiff competition in this thread)

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I would say.......

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Uber is to the taxi industry as AirBnB is to the hotel industry. The reason Uber is popular is price, easy access and better service; I would say this is same reason AirBnB's are also popular.

I find it ironic that the City worries about permits, hotels and available housing when AirBnB is mentioned, but doesn't worry about the taxi industry and employee/contractor wage law violations when discussing Uber. It must be Uber has some REALLY GOOD lobbyists.

AirBnB didn't play ball with the City and they are now paying; meet the new boss same as the old boss.

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The difference is that Uber

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The difference is that Uber is a net benefit for most people in Boston. AirBnb is a net benefit for only a few.

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Agreed, however......

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I'm looking at it more globally. Uber is obviously used by a lot more people, more regularly - but I'm sure a good amount of people have used AirBnB for either a vacation stay or business trip. What if other places were as unwelcoming to AirBnB as Boston? You wouldn't be able to rent that house on the lake in Maine, or the cottage on the Cape.

The industry should absolutely be regulated. The housing shortage due to AirBnB is a complete red herring, and Boston/Mayor have their feelings hurt over AirBnB not bowing down before the king.

The law can always be changed

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It will probably take some time to get this right. I hope it does give some relief to the residents of the North End and Chinatown. As vacancy rates change, the city can always adjust the legislation. It will also give city agencies time to figure out how to inspect units and make sure they are safe and up to code.

I'm not sure how I would feel if one of my neighbors started renting out rooms, or one or two units, all year long. It would probably get down to how considerate they and their guests are.

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I'll take a shot at it.

Suppose that I'm your landlord. I went to some effort to ensure that you're not a complete deadbeat loser who's gonna trash my investment. If you turn around and rent out this property to some hobo from the internet who trashes the place, all my effort was in vain. Sure, I've got your security deposit, but if they really trash it that's not gonna cover it.

Suppose that I'm your neighbor. I decided to rent this place, in part, because the landlord had standards and did background checks so he knows I'm not a complete deadbeat loser serial killer. I like to think that my neighbors went through the same scrutiny--and even if they didn't, at least I know them by name and where they live, so if there were a problem I could sue them. But now, because my broke-ass neighbor decided to put his spare room on AB&B, every night I have to walk down the hallway and share a wall with a random hobo from the internet. I don't know who the random hobo is, so I don't feel safe. I can't complain if the random hobo makes a lot of noise because they'll probably be gone the next day to be replaced with another random hobo. So thanks a pantload for reducing my quality of life, broke-ass neighbor.

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Don't worry! I'm not a

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Don't worry! I'm not a stabbing hobo, I'm a singing hobo!

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To your first point, what if

To your first point, what if your landlord is okay with you doing it? This is a blanket ban on all circumstances.

The second part is just an argument against AirBnB period. Which, fine if we want to ban it entirely, but why are we exempting homeowners? I grew up in Westie and people were extremely wary of anyone in the neighborhood we didn't know, and I'm sure my parents would have been upset if our next door neighbors had a different tourist sleeping in their spare room every night.

Extremes

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The city council focused too much on extremes (banning vs allowing) instead of on degrees (levying taxes).

The owner of a three family operating two AirBnb's ought to pay a MUCH higher tax on their property than they do now. Boston's commercial property tax rate is 2.5x the residential rate. On top of that, a property zoned commercial (like a hotel) has a valuation that's 1.5-2x the same property zoned residential.

Those multifamily homeowners operating mini-hotels need to be taxed like owners of hotels. Instead, the city council just made a six-figure donation to all these owners.

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Baker and Campbell sell out voter...again

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Baker and Campbell are very interested in in giving Boston neighborhoods to highest bidders. These two clowns cannot return an email answer or question unless you threaten their fragile egos. They will both trot out their "up my bootstraps personal" mythology stories at the slightest pushback. Frank survived 15 brothers and sisters and the fiery destruction of Dorchester, while Andrea dodged bullets hiding in the Library because she was loved by all. i grew up here tooo and sorry Boston was never the South Bronx. People are displaced, moving to towns away from their supports and while an illegal scary cottage industry catering to businessmen and hookers is supported by the council members who should protest it the most. .

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