New York’s campaign to attract businesses claims the state is “open for business!” This is comical coming from a government that has the nation’s second-worst business-tax climate, bans fracking, keeps ride-sharing out of upstate, and now criminalizes short-term rental advertisements. With Gov. Cuomo’s signing of the anti-Airbnb bill last Friday, the message is clear: New York is closed for business.
In the face of this progress, New York policymakers have consistently shown their unwillingness to bring the state into the 21st century.
New York’s 2010 ban on whole-apartment rentals of less than 30 days is already antiquated in today’s on-demand economy, but this law makes matters far worse. People offering short-term rentals when they’re not in their apartments can be fined up to $7,500 simply for listing their properties on sites such as Airbnb.
The bill’s supporters claim that limiting short-term rentals will increase access to affordable housing. But there’s no way that an online platform that didn’t launch until 2008 is the culprit when it comes to the city’s decades-long struggle with high rents. The 41,000 active Airbnb listings in New York City come out to just over 1 percent of the city’s 3 million housing units. Such a small fraction of available housing can’t possibly boost rents in any noticeable way. And even these listings aren’t taking housing options from New Yorkers — 90 percent of Airbnb posts are for residents’ permanent homes.
This crusade was never about protecting New Yorkers from “illegal hotels,” but about protecting the hotel industry from competition. As Vijay Dandapani, the chairman of the Hotel Association of New York City, stated, the new law is “also protecting one of New York’s most vital economic contributors — the hotel and hospitality industry.”
Dandapani fails to note that Airbnb and other home-sharing options don’t simply poach hotel guests. Start with the cost: The average New York City hotel room comes to about $270 a night, far above many travelers’ budgets. Yet a quick search on Airbnb...