Cribline Special News Update: Big Hotels Win, DC Citizens Lose Airbnb Rights, Amazon
The blows kept coming today for citizens in the district. Shortly after Amazon revealed that it had chosen Crystal City, VA- and not Washington DC- as one of the sites for its much anticipated HQ2, the DC City Council met to vote on legislation that would affect yet another tech giant – and the future of home-sharing in the district.
The vote on the “Airbnb Bill” has been hotly contested, drawing intense opposition from both sides. Hundreds flooded the Wilson Building for today’s vote with hotel-lobby supported union workers (bused in from VA and MD) arriving before doors opened to fill as many seats as possible.
Despite this element of subterfuge to influence the council’s decision, the actual tax paying residents of the district have voiced their opposition to the bill. According to Councilmember Brandon Todd, his office has heard from more constituents regarding this particular issue than any of all of the other issues he has dealt with combined. These are not real estate investors, just normal families trying to pay their mortgages.
The council did not discuss the bill for several hours, at which point in time it dominated the floor, drawing uncalled gasps and applause from its proponents in the audience and pinning members against each other in quippy debates. Councilmembers Todd, Allen, Cheh, and Silverman introduced amendments that would ultimately soften the bill, including extending the number of days allowed to rent a property that is not a primary residence from 90 to 120 days and allowing owners to list a 2nd property. Ultimately these and nearly every attempt to soften the bill were shut down.
Shortly after 5PM the Council voted unanimously in favor of bill, 13-0, Yes, unanimously. This came as a surprise to many in the audience as the councilmembers whose amendments were struck down (or withdrawn in Allen’s case), all ultimately supported it. Fortunately for them, many of the press personnel that cover this issue were focused on Amazon’s news, not this.
Today’s vote is a sad day for DC and the citizens who are trying to utilize their own properties and investments to improve neighborhoods, fix up dilapidated houses, and share our city with millions of tourists who can’t afford expensive hotel rooms or prefer to experience neighborhoods where actual DC residents live and hotels don’t exist.
While this comes as a major disappointment to proponents of private property rights and home-sharing in the district, the DC Mayor Muriel Bowser still has an opportunity to veto the bill or make additional changes that would be less restrictive and unfair. Our fingers are crossed she puts an end to this foolishness.
Stay tuned from additional Cribline News Flash updates.