The D.C. Council voted unanimously Tuesday afternoon to more tightly regulate the home-sharing market, restricting Airbnb users from listing their second homes on the site and placing restrictions on how frequently they may rent out space in their primary residences.
A version of the bill passed Tuesday will prevent residents from renting out room in their primary residence more than 90 total days per year if they don’t live on the property. If they do, there are no restrictions on how frequently they may list on Airbnb.
The Council will vote once more on the measure later this month. If it passes then, it will make D.C.’s regulatory framework for sites like Airbnb among the most strict in the country. San Francisco and New York City have similar, if not more stringent, restrictions.
In the hours and days before the vote, a number of officials and advocates––including Mayor Muriel Bowser herself––lightly criticized the effort.
“The sharing economy is here to stay, and we want Washingtonians to have every opportunity to benefit from these industries. The mayor wants to ensure that any regulations put in place are about building a more equitable and inclusive D.C.—not about locking Washingtonians out of emerging and profitable market,” Bowser’s spokesperson told WAMU.
The city’s chief financial officer estimated that the proposed regulations would cost D.C. about $96 million in lost tax revenue over the next four years if implemented.
But those arguments weren’t enough to dissuade the Council, at least initially, from taking action.
D.C. “cannot be just for tourists. It is first and foremost our home,” At-Large Councilmember Robert White said before the vote, citing the city’s diverse population and neighborhoods as a draw for existing residents. “The unregulated growth of a short term rental industry puts that diversity at risk.” He said the unrestricted leasing of apartments means “one less apartment, one less home for our residents.”