Jersey City council postpones vote on short-term rental regulations

BY Raven Santana, Correspondent |

Jersey City council members didn’t hold back when discussing the downside of short-term rentals like Airbnb at a caucus meeting.

“We have an area where it was completely bedbug infested and it went through about three rows of houses,” said Councilman Daniel Rivera.

“The data isn’t perfect, but the rough estimate of downtown right now is that between 5% and 10% of all downtown rental units are now being used as short-term rentals. It’s a big impact, and that makes a big impact on rent. And that’s a 100% increase since 2016,” said Councilman James Solomon.

That’s why council members introduced an ordinance in April to regulate short-term rentals. It would replace the city’s 2015 regulations and severely restrict hosting services. But this week, after home sharing business owners pushed back, Solomon proposed amendments to the proposed ordinance.

“Right now, if you live on-site and you’re renting out another unit there is no limit to the number of days you can rent. However, if you leave your home for the summer the current ordinance says you can only rent it out for 28 days. This amendment would expand that to 60 days,” Solomon said.

But even with the changes, some argue that jobs and revenue would still be threatened.

A spokesman for Airbnb says the home sharing service is actually helping the local economy, not hurting it.

“I think it’s important to remember that, you know, many of our hosts live in the units that they share. These are not empty, vacant units, for the most part. These are places that people live and they’re sharing extra space in their units in order to make extra money and support their families,” said Liz DeBold Fusco, senior communications manager for Airbnb.

“Like for instance, we bought furniture, we have long term leases, we hired people. And we don’t commit to people on a day by day basis. We commit to people for the long haul,” said business owner Murat Ozs.

Some business owners claim they were blindsided by the proposed ordinance and are now pleading with the mayor and council members to work with them.

“I’ve been stressed out since this happened. I wish they would come to some type of middle instead of just taking it away,” said cleaning service manager Eileen Cochran.

Ultimately, the council postponed the decision. The city council says they will introduce a resolution on Wednesday establishing a committee to look into the issue. A new ordinance will be presented 30 days after. If adopted, it would take effect on Jan. 1, 2020.