The city and the hotel industry have been waging war against Airbnb since last September in an effort to both preserve affordable housing and to protect hotel operators throughout the city. Though millions of dollars have been spent by both parties campaigning for change, apart from a couple of rulings ousting affordable renters for putting their apartments on the home-sharing site, not much has changed. Airbnb has failed to sway lawmakers, and the group leading the anti-Airbnb movement, ShareBetter, has only kept Airbnb from changing a state law that prohibits tenants in buildings with three or more units from renting out their home for short stays. In fact, according to Crain’s, Airbnb is thriving in NYC with now more than 27,000 rooms and apartments on its site.
Though increased patrolling has had some effect on Airbnb, it hasn’t done much to their bottom line. According to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the company’s revenue in the city grew tenfold between 2010 and 2014, and was expected to exceed $282 million last year. Airbnb as a whole is currently valued at over $20 billion.
Airbnb is also serious about keeping a strong NYC presence and they’re fighting all efforts to limit their operation. So far they’ve spent about $15 million on television ads in the second half of 2014, according to Crain’s, and tens of millions more on subway ads and billboards. The company also hired New York-based lobbying firm Bolton-St. Johns for $431,300.
Airbnb is hoping their efforts will lead to the same results seen in other cities such as San Francisco and Portland, where they were successful in changing legislation. Users in San Francisco and Portland are now allowed to put their homes on the site as long as they register their apartments and pay hotel taxes.
“Airbnb and home-sharing are here to stay,” company spokesperson Nick Pappas told Crain’s, “and it’s a matter of time before we fix this law.”
And as it turns out, most people support the presence of Airbnb in the NYC; 56 percent vs. 36 percent, a September Quinnipiac poll found.
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