This piece was written in November 2017.
In the middle of this recent election, my greatest concern was if my newly-elected councilperson or mayor would give two damns about the epidemic that is Airbnb. Many of our neighborhoods have been bought up by out of towners, who never had any intention of using this home for more than rental income – more specifically, short term rental income. The areas we call home should be filled with people who can lend you a cup of sugar, grab your mail when you’re away, or let your dog out when you are stuck at the office. Having a block full of short term rentals (STRs) isn’t going to provide us with that. It will sometimes have a drunk tourist try to break into your home because they don’t remember exactly where they are staying. (It’s happened. Trust me.)
Whole-home STR’s are eating away at neighborhoods in New Orleans. If you are fortunate enough to not live near one, consider yourself #blessed. I have watched party buses drop off no less than 10 people to an Airbnb two doors from where I live. I have also watched many friends not have leases renewed so that the owners could start Airbnbing them.
If you feel the argument “this is my property & I can do what I want with it” is viable, maybe this isn’t the read for you. But, I can promise that the vast majority of your neighbors did not plan on moving next door to a Holiday Inn Express. There are zoning laws for a reason, friend. It’s so that the rest of us can live in peace and not have to deal with a wild bachelor party on a Wednesday night. MeeMaw goes to bed early and she’s gonna need you to keep it down out there.
I am not opposed to all Airbnbs. I believe that if you want to rent out a room, you should be able to. If you want to rent out the other half of your house, go for it. (I’m not 100% on board with that, but I understand that it’s not going anywhere and there has to be give and take.) But you need to be responsible for the impact they make on your neighbors and neighborhood. You should be there to smooth things over and handle it. Out of town (or even the local people who bought up housing to do whole-home STRs) owners can’t be located and, truly, don’t care about you. They don’t care about what it does to our ‘hoods. All the while, they are claiming a homestead exemption on these places. Multiple homestead exemptions. What is homestead exemption, you ask? It’s a tax break for people who own their homes and actually live in them. Pretty sure Joe Blow’s primary residence isn’t on St. Andrew when his Facebook clearly shows he lives in California.
As a local Realtor, I choose to not work with people who I know are looking to buy a property and do whole home STRs. It’s a line in the sand that has cost me business. But, I also don’t believe that we need all the money in the world. I believe we should do what is right for our community and stay true to our beliefs.
All the service industry workers that keep this city going are being forced further and further out due to STRs taking over. Rents skyrocketed but their wages have not kept up. The people who keep the restaurants and bars running for you, who play that jazz music you adore, the ones who will give you directions, & a great local recommendation are getting to where they can’t afford to live in their own city.
The people that give this city character, soul, and meaning that you came here to hang out with, if we keep this up, it’s going to be where they “ain’t dere no more.”
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