Airbnb is stepping up its ongoing battle with New York City, days before a crucial hearing that it says could limit the company’s prospects in one of its largest markets.
On Tuesday, a New York City Council committee is set to hold a public hearing on a bill that would require disclosure of names and addresses of hosts on its platform, a move Airbnb opposes. Today, Airbnb is releasing a report accusing over a dozen council members of bias because they’ve received campaign contributions from the hotel industry.
Airbnb’s report tallies donations of more than $450,000 going to 15 council members over four years from donors Airbnb described as part of the hotel industry, including the Hotel Trades Council, a union for hotel workers.
If passed, the bill would require Airbnb and other short-term housing rental companies to disclose addresses and names of hosts who rent on their site directly with the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement, the agency that investigates cases of illegal rentals.
City officials say that access to that information will make it easier for the city to crack down on illegal rentals. Airbnb says it worries the city will use the data to punish not only bad actors renting illegally, but also lawful hosts who are within their rights to rent their homes on the platform.
It’s the latest move in the eight-year feud between Airbnb and the city. At last month’s Code Conference, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said he sees “no end in sight” to the fight.
Over the past decade, Airbnb has had similar battles with other cities but eventually reached data-sharing agreements with some, including San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle and Vancouver.
Airbnb isn’t the only one waging a public battle in this New York City fight: Last year, the hotel industry ran an ad campaign suggesting that terrorists use Airbnb rentals.
It looks as though Airbnb is set to lose this one, though. So far, 40 of 51 council members have signed on to the bill.
“It is clear from this broad level of support and the personal stories we continue to hear from everyday New Yorkers that this bill needs to be passed to address the urgent housing crisis our city faces, no matter how hard short-term rental companies try to assert differently,” wrote a spokesperson for Carlina Rivera, the New York City council member leading efforts to pass the bill, in an email to Recode.