Miami Officials Promise To Crack Down On Airbnb Homeowners Who Spoke Up About Bad Regulations

from the that's...-a-problem dept

For a few years now, we've written about various local governments and their pointless wars against Airbnb, which are often driven by lobbying from the big hotels. Different governments take different approaches, but Miami apparently has an incredibly restrictive regulation that effectively bars short term rentals entirely. Even worse, the mayor has been pushing to make things even worse. Since the current law only is enforced in response to complaints, mayor Tomas Regalado is pushing a plan to more proactively hunt down homeowners who offer short term rentals on Airbnb.

And here's where things get... sketchy. There was a hearing and a vote about this plan recently, and a bunch of Miami homeowners went to City Hall to speak out against this plan. Of course, in order to speak before the Miami commissioners considering this, they had to first identify themselves. The commissioners, apparently unswayed by these homeowners or by Airbnb itself, voted 3 to 2 to move forward with the plan (and also threatened to sue Airbnb directly...). But perhaps most ridiculous of all, the city is now looking to go after the homeowners who spoke at City Hall. After all, they identified themselves as homeowners using Airbnb:

“We are now on notice for people who did come here and notify us in public and challenge us in public,” said City Manager Daniel Alfonso. “I will be duly bound to request our personnel to enforce the city code.”

That sounds an awful lot like punishing Miami residents for speaking out on a matter of public interest. Yes, you can argue that they were admitting to breaking current local ordinances, but it certainly feels pretty sketchy to then directly target them. It is basically broadcasting the fact that no one is allowed to present the other side, and to describe how short term rentals might be beneficial to the city.

Filed Under: daniel alfonso, miami, regulations, short term rentals, tomas regaldo
Companies: airbnb


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Mar 2017 @ 1:49pm

    Land of the Fee, home of the Regulation!

    And we just keep BEGGING for more!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Mar 2017 @ 2:08pm

    Well, in the strictest practical interpretation of that stance, this means that only people who have absolutely no interest in renting (ie. non-Airbnb-users) have a chance of arguing its merits without having to fear the consequences - in other words, only those making the argument out of sheer idealism can get away with it. Now, needless to say this is not what I'd do - but even as absolutely shitty as I find this sort of punitive reaction, I must admit this conclusion has a certain seductive purity to it...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Mar 2017 @ 2:25pm

    Can we just go ahead and set a date for the burning of the Constitution? I am having trouble finding a single elected official at any level who believes in it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Mar 2017 @ 2:26pm

    more regulations, please

    yeah, with hundreds of thousands of regulations & laws on the books... arbitrarily interpreted & enforced by "sketchy" politicians & bureaucrats --we're all guilty of something in the government eyes

    some people are even starting to think that politicians can't be trusted

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Mar 2017 @ 2:32pm

    The nail that sticks up gets hammered down.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Mar 2017 @ 2:46pm

    government on the people, fire the people, and bye-bye the people.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    YourMom, 30 Mar 2017 @ 3:30pm

    If you want to run an AirBNB, you should have to get approval from every resident on the block first.

    Property shouldn't even be allowed to be rented. Property should only allowed to be bought. Renting has been turned into a weapon against the poor.

    This world needs another holocaust to wipe out the predators who think collecting money is the point of life.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Mar 2017 @ 3:48pm

      Re:

      Blah blah blah.

      It's called property rights for a reason. The right to do what I want with that property either for a homestead or to turn a profit has been a property owner's right for thousands of years. It's only recently this has been turned into a problem in the name of either protecting the "poor", or "protecting value". If these protectionist zoning laws weren't there on housing there wouldn't BE a problem for anyone to be able to afford a home. Don't even get me started on these squeaky wheel, grass a half inch too long, no vegetables in your yard, better not fly a flag HOAs.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 5 Apr 2017 @ 7:32am

      Re:

      Erm, how can a poor person afford to buy a home?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Mar 2017 @ 3:43pm

    Freedom of Speech is always in tension with the legality of actions proposed or opposed. Arguably there is no legal protection for speaking up opposed to regulations if you *admit to breaking the law in the first place*. If you're going to speak out in opposition to a law, and you broke that law, be prepared to pay the consequences if you haven't already. This isn't even a gray area. It's established case law what you say in public can be used against you in court regardless of the forum.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Mar 2017 @ 4:27pm

    Malicious prosecution

    It sounds like Miami is about to be on the receiving end of some rights violations and a new chief of police is long overdue.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    yet another anonymous coward, 31 Mar 2017 @ 6:09am

    i see the point of banning airbnb

    while i am uncomfortable with the idea of the folks who testified being prosecuted except if they admitted breaking the law maybe but i do see where it is a slippery slope.

    I do not have a problem with banning airbnb. Unlike Uber who's drivers and cars have to pass local taxi regulations, Airbnb's hosting sites are unregulated, and have no required safety standards applied to them, and the neighbors of the apartments id not sign up to live in an in-building transient hotel

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      SirWired (profile), 31 Mar 2017 @ 6:28am

      Errr... no, Uber's cars don't pass taxi regulations

      Uber's vehicles do not meet the same requirements as taxis. In fact, governments that attempt to enforce taxi rules on Uber quickly results in the company throwing a temper tantrum, and operating anyway until the city either gives in, or imposes a fine, at which point they leave town rather than comply with the law.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    SirWired (profile), 31 Mar 2017 @ 6:36am

    This is a legit thing for the gov. to do

    Independent of the wisdom of the law (personally, I think short-term rentals should be subject to some regulation, but not to the point where they are effectively prohibited), the idea that you can be prosecuted when you publicly admit you are violating a law is not controversial; a speaker at a government hearing does not receive automatic immunity for doing so.

    And suing AirBnB makes perfect sense also; AirBnB is not merely a listing service that could try and get by with 230 immunity, they also handle reservation tracking, communications, and process payments. The idea that they should bear some liability for owners not complying with the law is not particularly outlandish. (Just like a bank routinely processing sacks of cash from a random customer is liable for money laundering.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    michael, 31 Mar 2017 @ 12:04pm

    Down with ABNB

    We had 2 ABNB houses in my neighborhood, which is a nice, quiet area near a very touristy area. Since the owners were out-of-state investors who live hours away, they rented to anyone willing to pay.

    Not surprisingly, both places became huge party houses. After the 20th or so time the cops were called within 2 months, the owners were shocked to find themselves being charged more in fines than they were making from renters.

    Fuck ABNB. They made money while our neighborhood endured months of crime, violence, and disturbances.

    Now requests for ABNBs are rejected in my neighborhood by the planning commission, and those who run one anyway get what they deserve.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Altaree, 3 Apr 2017 @ 11:21am

    Can't the city just use the site to generate a list?

    1) Search for your city on the ABNB site.
    2) Find the locations. May have to reserve a room.
    3) Press charges/assess fine/ etc.
    Why is this so hard?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Abu Razif Ta'Dapat, 9 Apr 2017 @ 3:35am

    Racial vilification at Big Bear Resort

    By now, almost everyone might have known about that discriminatory act by that host, Tami for cancelling those Airbnb guests at Big Bear because they were Asian. Well, U.S. citizens as well. And Tami has the nerve to suggest that the U.S. President is racist. Tami is a fucked up stupid cunt with her brains up her arse. Tami perhaps masturbates furiously in the back room to keep warm in winter, with a frog wedged in her arse ! Tami is a disgrace to Big Bear Lake Resort and should be kicked out of her job.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    McGyver (profile), 5 May 2017 @ 2:58pm

    1- I have no love for the hotel industry.
    2- I have no love for Airbnb, who hopes to supplant the hotel industry so they can do whatever they please too.

    Without researching the details beyond the news coverage, the first question that comes to my mind is...
    Why would you expect immunity, if you knowingly broke the law?
    Miami forbids short term rentals... The property owners broke the law and admitted it in a public forum because the were hoping to get things changed in their favor.
    The only possibility of real complaint I could see in this is-
    1- If Miami didn't have any rules in place already and these individuals were targeted for future harassment.
    2- Someone in official capacity promised them that violators could testify without fear of prosecution.
    Otherwise they basically walked into it.
    I get that the hotel industry has a lot at stake by blocking Airbnb's growth... But there are reasons towns and cities make rules like this...
    Airbnb isn't the poor underdog fighting for your constitutional right to do with your property as you wish...
    They are looking to make money even if it ruins neighborhoods and apartments and is a nuisance to others.
    If you honestly think they give a crap about anything other than money, go take a ride on your magical unicorn and think deeply about it.
    What kind of homeowners rent out their homes to strangers anyway?
    Not your fun nice neighbors who give a crap about you...
    It's people who don't live at that address and don't give a rats ass about the others that live around that property.
    Airbnb wore out it welcome in my area because it was immediately abused.
    Badly abused.
    It's easy to say that many towns and cities overreach their authority by with stupid laws and codes...
    Until you have a party house next door and Airbnb is the one paying the politicians to rewrite the laws and you can do nothing about it.
    Airbnb and all these other regulation loophole sidestepping websites that allow people to do an end run around existing rules and regulations are not heroes... They are the next generation of corporate bullies and abusers

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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