While Nashville officials give millions in taxpayer dollars to the city’s high-priced hotels, they’re also lobbying hard to regulate Airbnb, one of the hotels’ primary competitors.
As reported, Airbnb.com operates similar to the Uber app. But, instead of people using their own cars to compete with cab drivers, people rent their homes.
In Nashville, no more than 3 percent of people in any one of the city’s census tracts may use their home for short-term rentals, at least when the homeowners are frequently away.
Mark Cunningham, spokesman for the Nashville-based Beacon Center, a free-market think tank, describes the situation as “Crony Capitalism 101.”
Beacon has filed a lawsuit against the ordinance.
State legislators are debating whether to push for a law regulating Airbnb or allow the respective city officials to regulate them as they wish.
Nashville officials, as reported, gave close to $27 million to three Nashville hotels through what it is known as Tax Increment Financing — under the pretense these hotels are in blighted areas. One hotel is in Nashville’s ritzy Gulch area; another is within walking distance of the new Music City Convention Center.
What Nashville has going on right now, Cunningham said, forces people to “give directly to a competitor and then not be allowed to operate their own business.”
“This whole idea infuriates me beyond belief, and it should infuriate every taxpayer in the city. Nashville has a known hotel shortage,” said Cunningham.
He says hotels can sometimes charge as much as $400 a night.
“These businesses should thrive or fail based on what they offer consumers and not who they know in government.”
“The largest threat against short term rentals are probably residents/ taxpayers that have to live next to one,” Adkins said.
Adkins’ group is pushing for more regulations involving Airbnb, according to the Nashville Post.
In a legislative hearing last week, Nashville Metro Councilwoman Burkely Allen defended the city’s right to regulate Airbnb, saying for homeowners “it was a privilege, not a right” to rent out their homes.
Allen did not respond to repeated requests for comment this week.
As reported, officials with Nashville’s Metropolitan Development Housing Agency, which distributes TIF money to the different hotels, don’t track how that money is spent, agency spokesman Jamie Berry said.
Those hotels that took TIF money include the Westin, the Thompson Hotel and 21c.
Before they may officially decree an area blighted, MDHA officials conduct a survey to decide whether the overall area is “at risk of continued deterioration.”
MDHA commissioners then must approve that redevelopment plan, and Metro Council members must also give their OK.
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