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Letter: Airbnb sites are service providers, not scapegoats

October 4, 2018

In an August 2018 Post Bulletin article, City Council Member Nick Campion stated that blaming Airbnbs for Rochester’s affordable housing crisis is “a poorly founded strawman.”

Indeed, affordable housing in Rochester has been a problem far before Airbnbs existed. The recent real estate market jump — likely due to Destination Medical Center investors — has exacerbated the issue. Collecting 300 petty fees through Airbnb regulations (in addition to non-homesteading taxes Airbnbs already pay) will not alleviate our housing crisis. It’s simply a convenient argument as city council elections approach.

Perhaps Airbnbs are under fire for “the housing crisis” as an attempt to decrease small-business competition with hotels. Council Member Ed Hruska indicates he wants “marketplace fairness.” In fact, Airbnbs already pay the same lodging taxes as hotels.

As for “public safety” concerns, Airbnbs are “regulated” for cleanliness through constant public reviews, and Superhost status ensures we have up-to-date safety features. Regarding neighborhood safety, our guests — predominantly Mayo patients and medical professionals — are friendly and responsible.

Truly, Airbnbs provide a unique service for the Mayo Clinic. A recent guest stated: This was “a sanctuary and a home-away-from-home … between very stressful appointments at Mayo” (Julie, June 2018). Rochester’s Airbnbs are top-notch, offering unparalleled services to our guests, to the Mayo Clinic, and to our neighbors. We’re service providers, not scapegoats.

Rachel Nagel, Rochester

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