The Real Deal New York

Bill allowing some Airbnb activity fails to get City Council support

The legislation would exempt some one- and two-family homes
July 09, 2018 12:55PM

Robert Cornegy (Credit: Getty Images)

A compromise bill that would legalize some Airbnb activity is facing an uphill battle with the City Council.

Council Member Robert Cornegy’s bill has only his own signature so far, Politico reported. Among the 10 members of the Housing and Buildings Committee, only one has expressed support. Cornegy, an Airbnb ally who chairs the committee, said his colleagues assured him privately that they support the legislation.

The bill would exempt one- and two-family homes from city law barring the conversion of a residence to a short-term hotel, the report said. Cornegy said the carveout would allow property owners in his district of Bedford-Stuyvesant and similar neighborhoods to use short-term rental platforms — without the fear of fines from city investigators.

Cornegy’s bill would require zoning changes because it would allow a commercial use of residential property, Politico said. Cornegy said he plans to meet with the de Blasio administration on Monday. If the mayor vetoes the legislation, the City Council would need 34 votes to override him, eight more votes than necessary to pass the bill. De Blasio has yet to veto anything during his tenure.

“Permitting unlimited transient use in 30% of residential units across the city could result in troubling unforeseen consequences, including the significant displacement of permanent residents, particularly from the 320,000 rental units located in such buildings citywide,” Alacia Lauer, spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement, told Politico. “At a time when the city is facing an acute crisis in housing availability and affordability, this would be an unwelcome additional pressure.”

Airbnb has faced pressure in New York, as the City Council seeks strict regulations. The company launched a campaign against legislation that would require Airbnb and similar companies to provide monthly data on booked listings to the city’s Office of Special Enforcement. The information would include hosts’ names and addresses and the addresses and booking numbers for listings. The bill reportedly has enough support to pass.

A report last month showed that Council members who backed the legislation accepted tens of thousands of dollars in contributions from the New York Hotel Trades Council. [Politico] — Meenal Vamburkar