Airbnb For Me But Not For Thee
By Brent Woodcox
Recently, I stumbled upon a picture that was shared on social media that showed city employees gathering with business and tech leaders in Austin for the SXSW festival. From all accounts, the folks who traveled there to represent our city did a fantastic job representing us and showing all the attendees of the festival the many incredible things our city has to offer.
I did notice one strange thing though. It seemed like folks from the city were staying in an Airbnb. That couldn't be though, I thought. Raleigh city councilors are working overtime to block Raleigh residents from renting out their own homes on a short term basis. How could it be city policy to send their own employees to other cities to stay in Airbnbs when city councilors have made it clear what a giant disruption they would be to neighborhoods in our city.
Of course, this isn't the first time that we have experienced this type of what's good for the goose is NOT good for the gander hypocrisy in the city of Raleigh.
Councilor Russ Stephenson, the unelected Mayor of Raleigh, has made clear that he stays in Airbnbs in other cities "all the time" even as he has done his level best to make sure they will never be made legal in our city.
Now comes this story from the News & Observer...
For all the talk from city councilors like Russ Stephenson, Stef Mendell, Kay Crowder and David Cox about how they are "protecting our neighborhoods" from the scourge of short term rentals, their policy has been an abysmal failure and an embarrassment to Raleigh. This latest display of hypocrisy just lays bare that fact.
If Raleigh wants to be a "21st century city of innovation" as it claims, it's time to abandon the Russ Stephenson rule for short term rentals and embrace the same technology that city employees wisely have when visiting other cities. If we want to compete with Austin for festivals and other tourism attracting events, then we're going to need to put our city on a level playing field with them when it comes to Airbnb. And if Austin's rules on short term rentals are good enough for the city to feel comfortable sending its employees to stay in Airbnbs when visiting, then the city council should immediately adopt the Austin model as Raleigh's new rules.
At any rate, there shouldn't be one policy for Raleigh employees and one for Raleigh residents. That's wrong. City councilors know it. And they're allowing it anyway.