Cincinnati councilman proposes Airbnb regulation

CINCINNATI -- City Councilman David Mann released a new proposal this week for regulating short-term rentals like Airbnbs, and people on different sides of the issue are disagreeing on whether the proposal is too strict, or not strict enough.

Under the proposed ordinance, Airbnb hosts would have to register and pay for city inspections, be limited to three rentals max unless they're grandfathered in and pay a 7 percent tax which will go toward preserving affordable housing.

Over-the-Rhine resident Margy Waller said she began noticing changes in the neighborhood in the past few years. When she looked up the neighborhood on Airbnb, she was surprised by what she found.

"There are 14 homes that are off the market because they're fulltime Airbnb hotel units," she said 

Waller is worried the short-term rental apartments will drive up rent like she said they did in New York and San Francisco, and that an influx of visitors will change the neighborhood's unique identity. 

"It empties out the neighborhood, you know? It makes it start feeling like an entertainment district and not a place where people life," she said. 

RELATED: Mount Adams residents say some Airbnb guests are loud, disorderly

But Becky Schrimpf said the Airbnb industry growing is one of the best things that could have could have happened. She's working as a housekeeper and making more money.

"I have worked at a big hotel Downtown, and the comparison between there and here is very freeing," she said. 

According to Airbnb, Cincinnati hosted more than 47,000 guests last year, with hosts earning more than $5 million. 

Hosts like Chris Hikel believe the new policy will slow that growth and hurt Cincinnati's economy in the process.

"Is the best thing for the city to generate more jobs, more sales tax, more income tax, or is the best thing for the city to restrict people for a problem that doesn't exist yet?" Hikel said. 

Mann's office said the proposed ordinance is a compromise for both sides of the debate. The council will have to approve it before it becomes law. 

"My goal in crafting this ordinance is to strike a balance between preserving and funding affordable housing units and community in neighborhoods, encouraging tourism and entrepreneurship through short term rentals, and ensuring that all visitors to Cincinnati are staying in units that are safe and up to code," Mann wrote.

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