League of Cities gives Airbnb a dose of snark


Airbnb this week touted a new report showing Florida seniors are cashing checks thanks to its platform, and the Florida League of Cities said that announcement is proof the company doesn’t need to bypass local governments in the vacation rental food fight.

The report showed Florida Airbnb hosts aged 55 and older made more than $150 million last year renting out all or part of their homes to vacationers, and Airbnb used the results to trumpet the Sunshine State’s business climate.

The League, one of the chief opponents of the statewide vacation rental framework sought by Airbnb, said Friday that it agreed – Florida’s business climate is great. So great, says League president Gil Ziffer, that a statewide law might muss it all up.

“We agree that Florida’s local communities are already a great place to do business. This release by Airbnb confirms what we have been saying all along – ‘it ain’t broken, so let’s not break it,” he said in a press release.

“Local communities should retain their right to decide the level of commercialization of their neighborhoods and we simply do not need a state law to override local decision-making. The system, as noted in the Airbnb release, is clearly working.”

The group then dinged Airbnb’s Thursday announcement as a “stark” turn from the rhetoric employed by its lobbyists during the 2018 Legislative Session when they fought – unsuccessfully – for a law preempting local regulations on short-term rentals.

The League said that 2018 narrative – that neighborhoods against short-term-rentals “were somehow hindering [Airbnb’s] success” – was refuted by the company’s own data, hailing it as “further proof that sensible and community-vetted local policies are working, and that cities across the state are embracing home-sharing.”

That fight is far from over, but in the meantime Airbnb has inked individual deals with Florida counties, 40 at last count, in lieu of the state-level framework it desires.

Those deals have indeed been successful for both sides. Airbnb announced earlier this year that it collected and remitted $45.7 million in tax revenue for Florida and local governments in 2017 as hosts in the state earned more than $450 million.

The San Francisco-based company also asserted those revenues came without doing damage to traditional hotels, pointing to VISIT FLORIDA data showing those businesses had a record-setting year of their own.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


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