On Tuesday, HudsonValley 360 reported that Council president Tom DePietro had "tasked the Legal Committee to look into a moratorium on future, non-owner-occupied Airbnbs while the city works out a long-term solution to managing the number of short-term rentals." On Wednesday, Alderman John Rosenthal (Fourth Ward), who chairs the Legal Committee, opened the meeting by saying, "The Council is not going to do a moratorium on Airbnb," and explained that doing do would be "illegal and impossible." He went on say that Airbnb was "a factor driving perceptions of affordability" in Hudson, spoke of the "transient nature of Airbnb," acknowledged tourism as "factor and driver" in Hudson's economy but "not the only game in town," and noted that Columbia Memorial Health was the city's biggest employer.
City attorney Andy Howard told the audience that filled the Council Chamber--some opponents of Airbnb, some owners of Airbnb properties--that this was the first time any Council committee has taken up the issue of Airbnb. He explained there were "jurisdictions that have passed varying degrees of restriction" on Airbnb, noting that "some jurisdictions make a distinction between owner-occupied and non-owner-occupied." He also spoke of "issues of enforcement vis-à-vis the Fourth Amendment."
The most vocal opponent of Airbnb, Rebecca Wolff likened the negative impact on the community of Airbnb to a mining operation or an automobile manufacturer. She alleged that Airbnb was the "main driver of the scarcity of rental apartments" in Hudson and asserted that a short-term rental that was not owner-occupied was "essentially an illegal hotel."
Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) echoed Wolff's assertion that Airbnb is causing a shortage of rental units in Hudson. She added a general indictment of gentrification when she said, "When people buy houses and turn them into Airbnb or single-family houses, it forces out residents who are here." Rafael Pimentel, who owns a property used for short-term rental, protested, "Nobody is talking about the fact that when we bought houses here they were slums."
Rosenthal blamed "decades of bad economic policy and bad government" for the housing problems now being experienced in Hudson and assured the audience, "Now there are people [in government] interested in good growth." He promised, "We're going to look at models that could be enforced." With regard to enforcement, Rosenthal acknowledged that the City was "resource starved."
Apparently seeking to establish some legal justification for instituting a moratorium or a ban, Howard asked if people have "experienced real nuisance issues with Airbnb." Earlier in the discussion, Peter Spear said his house shared a backyard with the Airbnb next door, and he considered it an invasion of his privacy to have strangers there. Nick Zachos, who lives on lower Union Street, said when he was in college in Oneonta people who moved there knew they were moving to a college town, but people had not moved to Hudson knowing it was a "wedding and party town." He complained about noisy groups of people leaving bachelor and bachelorette parties passing his house in the middle of the night on the way to their Airbnbs.
Fourth Ward supervisor Linda Mussmann mentioned the fire at 260 State Street, which was being operated as boarding house booked through Airbnb, and complained that a year later the building was still not repaired. Wolff spoke of guests in the Airbnb next door to her house leaving doors open when they departed. Claudia Bruce related tales of guests trashing Airbnb accommodations.
One interesting statistic that emerged from the discussion is that 82 percent of the Airbnb listings in Hudson are entire houses. This statistic comes from information provided by Airbnb at AIRDNA.com, where it also indicates that there are 291 active rentals in Hudson.
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