UnfairBnB: What Unlicensed Short-Term Rentals Mean for New Orleans

Published  March 2014

shabby-chic-closeupMore and more people we know in New Orleans make money through Airbnb, a website that allows tourists to arrange short-term stays in private homes. “I wash towels for a living now,” says one friend, a working artist who from 2010 to 2013 derived the majority of her income from graphic design. “That’s what I do all day, towels and sheets.” She and a business partner rent a property in the Ninth Ward that they use as an Airbnb hostel. “It pays much better and it’s way less aggravating than doing people’s business cards and websites. No regrets.”

We asked Bonnie Rabe, president of the Professional Innkeepers Association of New Orleans, if Airbnb is costing traditional guest houses business. “Absolutely,” she said. “Am I struggling to make ends meet? No. There’s plenty of business to go around, plenty of tourists. Our biggest complaint about unlicensed short term renters is that they’re doing it illegally, while we still have to pay taxes and fees. But everyone knows the city is not enforcing its laws.”

Airbnb requires hosts to file a Form 1099 (the federal and state tax form for miscellaneous income), but its only nod towards municipal codes is in the host signup form, where you check a box promising you’ll abide by local laws. In New Orleans, if you’re renting other people living space for less than 30 days (60 in the French Quarter), the city requires you pay per-room taxes and hundreds in yearly licensing fees. None of the Airbnb hosts we talked to do so.

So it’s illegal. And in a city where poor black folks do decades for marijuana possession, where “permits” are used by the powerful as a pretext to shut down all sorts of shit, it’s pretty disgusting to see the smarmy Seattleites at Booty’s Street Food running an illegal B&B, especially just upstairs from the same Bitcoin bistro in which they host campaign events for Jackie Clarkson, a woman who spent her career using the law as a cudgel against our city’s most vulnerable. But unless you’re someone with a stake in the conventional hospitality industry, it can be hard to get too worked up about Airbnb’s overall illegality. It fits into a tradition of New Orleans residents surviving through informal side-hustles, from unlicensed in-home daycares and salons to using residential kitchens to turn out dinner plates and huckabucks. And in a place where government has only ever been a kleptocracy, what’s so great about paying taxes?


Real Compared to What

In Zachary Lamb’s 2011 study, Rethinking Authenticity in Tourist Experience, Lamb finds that participants in “person-to-person hospitality networks” such as Airbnb are driven largely by “authenticity-seeking,” among a list of motivations that also includes a desire for “social distinction.”

This is the key to success for another friend, a full-time Airbnb host who sublets a room of his rented house to Airbnb tourists. “Yuppies pay me $50 a night to be roommates,” he said. “I take them to the St. Roch, I party with them.” His reviewers are impressed, citing the exposure he offers to the “real, underground NOLA,” one describing it as “an authentic-to-unpleasant experience.”

As usual, reality trumps any attempt at satire. How much would you pay to sleep in a school bus parked lakeside of St. Claude? On Airbnb, it’s just $70 a night. For some, discomfort is a selling point, a mark of authenticity. “They love it,” says Chuck, a friend who Airbnbs one of the three rooms in his Ninth Ward shotgun. “I open the door, I’m a heavily tattooed punk, there’s broken down houses on either side of me, and they get to be like ‘I spent a night in the hood.’” Disaster tourism isn’t new; New Orleans’ decimated infrastructure has a thrilling outlaw appeal. The romanticization of poverty successfully markets to outsiders those same aspects of the city that are most frustrating and depressing to its residents.

instagramMany Airbnb hosts flatter and tantalize prospective guests’ typically tourist desire to see special or secret things, the real New Orleans other tourists don’t have access to. On safari deep in the urban jungle, the daring Airbnb super-tourist hunts social media bragging rights by bagging iPad footage of exotic scenery and wild local life. They want the special stuff, the magic those poor benighted hicks who settle for eating beignets at Café du Monde, enjoying live music in Jackson Square, or drinking a Pimm’s Cup at the Napoleon House are missing out on.

The idea that, by sticking tourists in some part of town with fewer taxis, Airbnb offers them a more “real” New Orleans is of course just misleading marketing; the French Quarter—even the neon-lit panic attack that is Bourbon Street—is real New Orleans. It is not fake. Whatever you call that unfunny Portlandia joke metastasizing past Press Street, it’s absolutely rife with Airbnb rentals, and the French Quarter is arguably more authentically New Orleans than an area which, as seen in its new businesses, is aesthetically and experientially indistinguishable from trendy neighborhoods in many other cities.

New Orleans’ secrets are still not for sale. By trying aggressively to buy your way into a more authentic experience, you only guarantee yourself something commodified. Tourists who reject the museumified French Quarter instead contribute to the hollowing-out and museumification of other neighborhoods.


Denying the Hustle

It might sound creepy for a stranger to buy space in your home. To help you accept a reality in which your financial precarity obliges you to make “private” things like your home or your car extralegally available to the whims of better-off strangers, the tech industry has coined the term Sharing Economy. In a nutshell, the Sharing Economy means you get contacted by someone with money. You then “share” something you have with that person, for money. This is done via the internet, making it hard for under-resourced local law enforcement to regulate or prevent. Technology is neutral and agnostic, so whether the transaction’s an Uber rental or child sex tourism, the Sharing Economy cares only about facilitating brisker commerce with less government interference. In a city as fucked-up as New Orleans, the result is an exploding market with no oversight whatsoever, and Airbnb pockets commission off each transaction.

Like many Sharing Economy businesses, Airbnb likes to emphasize its customers’ experiences of camaraderie. This can be seen in host review sections, which closely resemble the review function of an earlier website, Couchsurfing.org. Couchsurfing, from its 2004 founding to about 2012, was a website where strangers offered other strangers free accommodation. It took a form of travel that punks and weirdos have engaged in forever and made it accessible to a wider audience; it was a utopian project. Airbnb took that project and made it about money, while maintaining both Couchsurfing’s aesthetic and utopian language.

In a press release posted on Airbnb’s website in reaction to New York City enforcing its laws on short-term rentals, David Hantman, Airbnb’s Head of Global Public Policy, passionately defends his employer. “These are not illegal hotels. These are amazing stories within a core community of hosts and travelers adding to the diverse fabric of New York.”

The Sharing Economy’s hippie-dippie language co-opts free culture while denying anything’s being changed by the injection of a profit motive. Potlucks, to which you could at least in theory invite your neighbors, become speakeasies or pop-up restaurants where you only interact with whoever can afford what you’re selling. Houseguests become Airbnb guests. Every meeting is mediated by money— but you’re not working, you’re “sharing.” You’re doing what you love, meeting new people, creating amazing stories.


As our economy becomes almost entirely tourism-based, it’s a rare New Orleanian who isn’t at some level involved in hustle. We flirt, we charm, we smile to survive. Hustling is a dance that both parties, deep down, know they are engaging in, even when the interaction is based on a temporary suspension of disbelief. Money itself isn’t inauthentic; it’s real, and the hustles we engage in to make money aren’t inherently inauthentic either. But a conversation in which a business talks about itself as if it weren’t about money is bullshit.

Denying the hustle obscures your role as a worker, a concept that, though less and less popular, has historically allowed people to explicitly separate what they do for love and what they do for money. It’s particularly insidious in a time when steady employment, let alone a unionized workplace or real medical coverage, seems a pipe dream.

Miya Tokumitsu’s essay “In the Name of Love,” in the January 2014 issue of Jacobin Magazine addresses this mindset at length. She writes, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life! Before succumbing to the intoxicating warmth of that promise, it’s critical to ask, ‘Who, exactly, benefits from making work feel like nonwork?’ ‘Why should workers feel as if they aren’t working when they are?’…It hides the fact that if we acknowledged all of our work as work, we could set appropriate limits for it, demanding fair compensation and humane schedules that allow for family and leisure time.”


The Color of Money

“If somebody is struggling with paying their rent, in any home in any neighborhood in New Orleans, they can help supplement their rent with Airbnb if they wanted to,” said one Airbnb host we spoke with. The idea that anyone can benefit is a common sentiment within the Sharing Economy, but while the internet may have potential as a democratizing force, it has in common with democracy that it does not serve all its constituents equally.

“Subscribers to high-speed Internet services in New Orleans are generally white and in the higher income brackets,” says a study cited in a March 2012 piece by Matt Davis on The Lens website. It’s the same old story of race, class, and media access. Browsing through downtown New Orleans’ Airbnb listings, more than 90% of hosts are white. Airbnb as a service to hosts is not reaching New Orleans’ black majority in any significant way. There are a lot of people in New Orleans who lack the space to put up Airbnb guests, the investment capital to create such a space, or the time for the work required.

Whatever your sense is of who’s been hit hardest by the insane rent spikes of recent years, downtown New Orleans’ prospective Airbnb hoteliers likely don’t match that demographic. Lounging on funky couches or grinning from within elaborate Mardi Gras costumes, their blithely unselfconscious bios border on parody. “I’ve lived in New Orleans now for nearly three years. Once upon a time, I traveled across the country in a Honda Civic Hybrid from Portland, OR…”

A lady in Holy Cross who offers the neighborhood specialties of fresh oysters and zydeco dancing promises potential customers that “It is a joy to see neighbors rebuilding homes that suffered through the post Katrina floods.” This sentence on its own would be nice, but here it is part of an advertisement. Instead of the banal architecture of the French Quarter, tourists are offered as scenery the struggles of those displaced by the failure of the Federal levees.

In the bios, one word in particular surfaces repeatedly. “Your hosts are all artists.” “Foodie. Traveler. Artist.” In bio after bio the word tolls like a bell, shrieks like a whistle, insistent and inescapable. “[A]n artist from New Jersey.” “We are artists with two homes.” Why do so many profiting off Airbnb identify as artists? The listings blur personal ad and business transaction. Customer reviews are reviews of the hosts themselves, their personalities and likeability. “A great guy! Such a talented musician!” What downtown’s Airbnb rentiers have in common, beyond their lifestyle affectations, is that they’re overwhelmingly, almost without exception white and from elsewhere. That is who’s making money off Airbnb.

cash-machineBut even if more New Orleanians of color used Airbnb, that doesn’t mean they’d be able to make money off it the way whites are. In a 2014 study for Harvard Business School titled Digital Discrimination: The Case of Airbnb.com, authors Benjamin Edelman and Michael Luca find that racism strongly affects how much Airbnb hosts are able earn. The “raw data show that non-black and black hosts receive strikingly different rents.” There is, the study concludes, a “significant penalty faced by a black host trying to conduct business on Airbnb.”

Much of what’s considered “cool” about New Orleans, most of the “cultural economy” Mayor Landrieu and his hospitality-industry cronies are pimping to outsiders, is working-class African-American or Creolized Afro-Caribbean in origin. But as usual, the hand collecting your fare to this fairyland is white and uncalloused. The culture of the historically oppressed is monetized by the historical oppressor.


King Tourist

A September 2013 Good Morning America piece by Alan Farnham about communities cracking down on illegal Airbnb rentals quotes Molly Turner, Airbnb’s Director of Public Policy, who posits Airbnb as ameliorating the cruelties of gentrification. “We’re helping the middle class to be able to afford to stay in San Francisco and in their homes by providing additional income,” Turner says.  Airbnb guests, Turner says, “Patronize the local café, the neighborhood restaurant.”

Farnham agrees. “Thanks to Airbnb, neighborhoods and small businesses that have never before benefitted from tourist spending now do.” But what does it mean when the distinction between what’s for tourists and what isn’t gets erased?

How many of the properties on the block where you live would you want to see converted from long-term rentals or owner-occupancies into Airbnbs?

For one thing, it puts renters in New Orleans into direct competition for space with an endless churn of visitors able to pay $50 to $200 a night. For another, it subjects residential neighborhoods to wave after wave of super-short-term outsiders, a potent disruptive and destabilizing force in areas still fighting their way back to some semblance of stability. Tourists have no understanding of the neighborhoods they’re invading, and unlike longer-term residents, they have no incentive to get along with or respect those who live in the neighborhood. They’re here to party and enjoy themselves, and it’s in the Airbnb host’s economic interest to ensure they’re able to do so. On a NOLA.com article about the city’s ongoing failure to enforce the laws against illegal short-term rentals, one commenter said his experience of living next door to an illegal guesthouse was like “living next to a frat house.”

Once, the timber industry ruled Louisiana. Rail lines and housing were built to facilitate clearcutting. After all the logs were sent downriver, the apparatus of industry moved on, leaving behind despoiled countryside and communities with no income. Then came the oil industry, which cut canals through our most delicate wetlands, digging and destroying. Like the timber industry before it, the oil industry seized the highest land, closest to the river. Whole neighborhoods, communities like Diamond in Norco, disappeared entirely, subsumed into the Blade Runner-like refinery infrastructure.

Here in New Orleans, tourism is king. Like the timber and oil industries, its needs and agenda reshape not just government policy but the lives of those who live in or around the resources it values, and if every neighborhood becomes a tourist destination, every neighborhood must be tourist-compliant. A few weeks back, a friend enjoying a post-breakfast cigarette at his table outside Cake Cafe was told he couldn’t smoke. No matter your feelings on cigarettes, it wasn’t so many years ago that you could find employees smoking behind the counters of our city’s post offices and delis. Where does this change of culture originate? It is the normalization of New Orleans, and like most changes, it is driven by money. Things uncomfortable or unfamiliar to tourists are forced into cultural conformity. King Tourist must be accommodated.


The Spatial Logic of Airbnb

Part of what Airbnb does, functionally, is introduce a specifically touristic whiteness into neighborhoods where it hasn’t previously been. Although it’s wearying to trot out the tropes, the standard model of gentrification might be compared to chess—most vividly in New Orleans neighborhoods that, since white flight, have been the homes of poor people of color.

In this chess model, white “pawns”—punks, artists, other categories of white folks who lack health insurance—are the front lines. Largely renters, these low-budget whites are driven into formerly non-white neighborhoods by a need for affordable housing. They, or those just after them, begin to demand changes, like more aggressive policing to protect their conceptually ambitious bicycles. The appearance of whiteness in the neighborhood draws the interest of new whites who have the means to buy and fix up houses—as distinct from the neighborhood’s pre-existent Slidell-dwelling landlords, for whom the notion anyone would pay $1100 a month to live in the Ninth Ward is a hilarious windfall.

Notwithstanding the black/white dichotomy is an ahistorical oversimplification in a downtown which has never been homogeneous, this 20th century version of new whites taking space in previously nonwhite neighborhoods, seen from above, is a two-dimensional line of scrimmage. The white teapot swells, the non-gentry “other” recedes. Waves of more affluent whites force the poor ones further out.  Eventually, places like the Marigny, hellaciously dangerous not so long ago, become Clean Zones fit for King Tourist. When more whites arrive, the perimeter of whiteness expands.

Airbnb isn’t chess; it’s three-dimensional. It’s more like Go, the ancient Eastern game in which pieces can be added to the board anywhere. It is the spatial logic of infection, contagion, a thousand small sky-dropped seeds, only a few of which need to survive to then overgrow. It’s problematic, in both these models, to grant whiteness all the agency, but let’s be real: money is agency. Money is choices, and vacations, and getting to decide where you want to be. Those without money, like the first-wave white “pawns,” don’t get to make choices; they must react to emergent necessities.

In the Go model, tourists who would formerly be limited to tourist neighborhoods are parachuted into New Orleans willy-nilly. These tourists, who bring with them expectations and culture from elsewhere in America, are moving along lines not of physical geography but of technology and culture. Picking a place to stay in an area they know nothing about, they are reassured by the smiling faces of others who resemble them on the Airbnb website. “These hosts look like nice people. Look, this couple who wear the same brands of clothing as us recommended them. Oh honey, shall we? Let’s get a taste of the real New Orleans.”


The visual dissonance this creates, the experience of seeing visibly affluent white couples on matching bicycles toodling around the bombed-out reaches of St. Roch, is an example of the digital age’s vaunted techie “disruption.” It’s the sudden and apparently anomalous arrival of things that have no bearing on what came before, new things not rooted in any recognizable local context. An entity that made sense in an older shared conception of the neighborhood—a family home, an ironworks, a church or corner store—is replaced with something bizarre: a studio offering a bodywork discipline no one who lived there pre-Katrina has heard of, a rarely-open gallery of off-putting art, or a restaurant serving contrived and regionally unfamiliar foods.

But these goods and services aren’t unfamiliar to their intended market. These strange new businesses in old buildings are toeholds for an emerging stratum whose “community” and tastes are built trans-geographically, through a version of “culture” that exists largely online.

To be clear, this fracturing of historical and cultural continuity is a tendency that operates in both the two- and three-dimensional models of takeover. Whereas North Claiborne, even before the interstate, was a line of culture, a continuous region of black New Orleans, Esplanade Avenue in 2007 was united merely by architecture. Some of Esplanade’s stately homes were full of poor people renting month-to-month or even by the week. But with the addition of a bike lane, a line of white movement is imposed along Esplanade, fracturing the continuity of Claiborne.

Within the relentlessly accelerating pressure of capitalism, anything not actively generating money for the right people, including pockets of culture, must be smashed into gravel, atomized and scrapped for potentially profitable parts. Anything large enough to have its own interiority must be punctured—and what better pin than King Tourist, that most normalizing and decontexualized force, one with no stake in a community’s future and no attachment to its past?


Uncomfortable Conversations

In most ways, Airbnb is no worse than other things we do for money. While making us all tour guides in our own homes commodifies our experiences of our city, it also provides friends, many of whom are worthy souls, with income they’d otherwise have to derive from washing dishes, selling commercial art, or supplying the New Orleans tourist economy another kind of service it demands.

City ordinances allow no more than one B&B per block, to prevent residential neighborhoods being hollowed out by tourism. Especially (but not only) for those who make money through Airbnb, the question is this: How many of the properties on the block where you live would you want to see converted from long-term rentals or owner-occupancies into Airbnbs? If your answer isn’t “all of them,” what will prevent that happening? We all have a stake in the outcome.

It’s hard to argue against people’s short-term economic self-interest, but when it comes to Airbnb, a useful distinction might be drawn based on host occupancy. Those who Airbnb a piece of the property where they reside at least live in the neighborhood they’re affecting. Non-residents, those who rent out entire apartments or houses, or who travel most of the year and sublet, are profiteering.

Since, as with so much it’s supposed to do, our city government can’t or won’t regulate Airbnb, we New Orleanians must do it ourselves. There is a spectrum of reaction that begins—and ideally, ends—with conversation, speaking with or otherwise contacting directly those who are operating Airbnbs in places they don’t live, or using Airbnb to run empires of whole-house hotels.

Perhaps it’s time the neighborhood associations stepped up. Rather than rely on government to hold us accountable, we must hold ourselves accountable for the ways our actions affect our neighbors, and our neighbors should be likewise accountable to us. Our shared future depends on it. Uncomfortable as these conversations might sound, they’re a better way forward than abdicating our responsibilities to a disinterested and useless city government… or the bottomless rapacity of the market.

90 comments about UnfairBnB: What Unlicensed Short-Term Rentals Mean for New Orleans

  • Great read. Ironically, I know of 2 illegal air bnbs – both are entire houses located in the Marigny that are available for rent by the day/week. Other thing in common is that they both sport the placard with the null sign protesting Cafe Havana. Wonder if that’s the equivalent of the bat signal to city inspectors that these places are to be left alone since they serve a “noble cause”?!?

    • Hahaha, yeah, Fuck more jobs! “Why doesn’t everyone just buy a house in the marigny and rent it out on AirBnB instead of wishing there were more jobs to deal with the 25% black unemployment rate????” I hate those NIMBY anti-Havana people. fucking rich scum.

  • What an awful read. I’ve stayed in NOLA on numerous occasions and I guess now I realize what a sucker I was. I never quite clued in to what a parasite I was. How I was enabling The Man to keep all the real New Orleanians down. The 50-200 per night? Huh. Do you think they’re renting their places out every single night? Yeah, I kinda doubt it. I have a friend who rents her place out in Chicago (Its a big city up north – I’m assuming you don’t know because I’m assuming you never travel – or if you do, do you realize you’re invading the cities you travel to?). She has a very nice place in a fun part of town and it rented 1,2, 3 weekends a month – in the warmer months. I’m using AirBnB to stay in a room in Cincinnati for a preservation conference. Its a good thing too, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to afford it, and frankly, its a neat neighborhood. I don’t throw this sort of thing around casually, but the author of this article would make an old Bolschevik think you’re a bit of a tight ass. Everyone considering going to New Orleans should read this article…and strongly consider Mobile.

  • I know of at least four AirBnB addresses in my ‘hood, and the neighbors have NO CLUE about them, because (a) there are already so many transient renters with absentee landlords, (b) nobody knows their neighbor anymore, and (c) none of the feared AirBnB “emergencies” (e.g. fire; death; misrepresentation) has yet occurred.

  • I would have liked to see the local angle connected to the broader sea change occurring everywhere. AirBnB has shifted the value of all housing, in all cities, across a certain vector–it’s appeal to AirBnB travelers. The scale at which they operate makes this a huge change. The economics of housing are changing. The cultural role of home ownership is changing, and as a result so is the cultural role of the neighborhood. Shit is crazy. And like a lot of these shifts, it feels like it is magnifying inequities rather than ameliorating them.

  • What crap. Renting out my house has allowed me to repair my Katrina damaged house when I would NEVER been able to afford it on my own. I provide my guests with great experiences and great insights into the city that they would never get from a pimply bored desk clerk. I have saved a historically significant New Orleans house from being demolished. I have planted over 40 trees out of my own pocket and through my own labor in my neighborhood.

    I remember once staying in a hotel on Canal Street when my house was being readied for occupancy. There was ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in the entire hotel that let you know you were in New Orleans – nothing. So don’t believe the hype about BnB’s being bad ambassadors for the City.

    So go ahead and hate on me. I’ve spent my money on local contractors and I’ve vastly improved my neighborhood. I’m not required by ordinance to pay taxes locally by City Ordinance because I don’t have more than 5 bedrooms. They money I make stays in New Orleans and doesn’t go to some Corporate Headquarters in another state.

    So please tell me the down side to the City of New Orleans for all my hard work.

    • It seems like you are a civic minded person, with the tree planting and all. And I think the quality hospitality factor (whether from natives or transplants) was overlooked in this article. But to directly answer your question, the problem that all the short term rentals causes is that it makes housing more scarce, and therefore rents go up. People who make their living in central areas are having their commutes multiplied by housing costs going up in areas near jobs. What are you doing to help lower the cost of housing for everyone?

      • I wouldn’t rent out my house long term anyway so it has nothing to do with taking away rentals from people looking to rent. Which would you rather have, a Mom n Pop BnB or a huge high rise hotel with no parking next to you? That would be the alternative.

      • Why is it the local homeowners’ responsibility to keep rental prices low? Are we supposed to subsidize housing?

        Homeowners take on a much a higher economic risk from damage from storms and lost rental income during evacuations. Additionally, repair and maintenance in historic homes can have significant costs. Homeowners have also been hit with large increases in property taxes as well as skyrocketing insurance costs. This is all in addition to the significant influx of young people into these neighborhoods, driving rental prices even higher. These are the reasons rental rates have risen. Blaming AirBnB is a red herring and intellectually lazy.

    • Planting trees and paying for services doesn’t make you civic–it makes you wholly aware of the ROI for your rental business. I wonder if you’re not being a bit disingenuous about the motivation for your property improvements. You are not doing good accounting which would also take into consideration the cost of your home being off the market for long-term residents. Take note of what cities are doing now to calculate the objective “impact” of short-term rentals to cities. The analysis goes beyond trees and paying contractors–as feel-good as all that is. http://sfcontroller.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=6457

      I don’t know much about Nola’s situation with Airbnb but cannot believe that it’s much different than other desirable tourist attraction city. I live in SF. I have discovered that in my midst I know of two households under the grip of profiteering landlords (so famous as to be identified as such by the grass roots anti-eviction protesters) that would rather find a way to push them out and convert the properties to short-term holiday rentals rather than accept their long-term rental income. The longer story below.

      Just last week I found out from my daycare owner that her landlady has tried to unlawfully remove her in a couple of bait-and-switch schemes (claiming to need to repair the property, etc). The daycare owners, a nice Egyptian-born elderly couple with 4 children of their own living on the premises, of course refused the landlady’s requests. Also, turns out that this landlady denies them basic repairs like leaking ceiling. Meanwhile in the other 2 units of the edwardian property she has updated everything and converted them into short-term rentals.

      My husband and I decide to look into this lady, not only our of concern for our daycare but out of general concern that short-term rentals are quite simply pricing out ordinary working locals, families on budgets, and of course limited income elderly or disabled. In short gentrification.

      Our research turns up that the landlady of the daycare owners is one of these profiled 16 people considered the worst offenders of short-term rental profiteering in SF, going to lengths of evicting people to convert long-term to short-term. https://antievictionmap.squarespace.com/sleazy16/ Valerie and Darren Lee are the landlords of the daycare owners–and they have been so brazen as to be now sued and fined. I believe the fine was not enough because they are continuing in their ways. They own more than a half-dozen multi-unit properties in SF, all of which they have or would like to convert to short-term rentals. They are also famous on Yelp for not returning security deposits to renters. In short, they are unscrupulous.

      I was doubly surprised to find out that my neighbor across the street has a landlady who also appears on this list. The Manning family. My neighbor had, in passing, remarked how she’s surprised to be the last long-term renter in a building with about 4 other units–all the others have been converted to short-term rentals by the southern lady property owner from Tennessee who has made a hobby of collecting properties all over SF.

      If in my midst I know 2 separate households and families affected by these profiteering types, how many of all of us are only one connection away from this element? The element of the profiteering speculators who have become solely devoted to short-term rentals and the free-for-all market which they enjoy for now?

      AirBnb and similar hosting sites have made it very difficult to get a clear picture of how many are resident owned properties vs the types that I listed above, profiteering full-time dedicated people seeking to exploit this market and every loophole going along with it.

  • Race Race Race!!!! Obsessed w/ race for zero reason. It literally has no bearing whatsoever on AIRBNB & you are just drumming up racial resentment for no reason whatsoever. Please try to bring people together instead of this racial propaganda. And btw, AIRBNB is really great for both renters & owners. I’ve used it many many times…mostly as a guest & it’s great!

    • Wow. I hate people like you. Move to Metairie, there are driveways where your biggest problem in life will be solved and you can sit your fat ass on the couch and watch dancing with the stars in peace, instead of having to waddle over to the window and peep out the blinds every 10 seconds waiting for the chance to yell at someone for improper parking. Good priorities you have!

      • Thanks but there are driveways in New Orleans and in my neighborhood.

        But when lack of parking enforcement allows people to park:
        on their lawns (which can lean to paving their lawns which leads to drainage issues)
        or over the sidewalks (where there older folks in my neighborhood or kids on their way to school have to walk out into the street)
        or on the the green space between the sidewalk and the street (which then breaks S&W infrastructure leading to leaks and standing water and waiting for repairs)
        it affects Quality of Life in what should be a “walkable neighborhood”.

        Like most New Orleans neighborhoods mine has a significant number of renters who for various reasons change frequently (along with of course longer term renters). So there is already a “transient” population. Airbnb has not affected Quality of Life. What it tends to do is allow home owners in the neighborhood to afford their homes because they rent out a portion of their homes. Having homeowners in the neighborhood increases the Quality of Life because they are *fully* (as in both financially and physically) vested in the neighborhood in a way that even the best renters are not.
        I’m not saying that Airbnb is good for all neighborhoods (perhaps those closer to the action like Treme are more likely to be negatively affected) but it does not hurt mine.

        Hate on. My priorities are just fine, thanks!
        The last place I’d move is Metairie.

  • This is really interesting, and I appreciate the careful thought about what happens when we commodify *everything* for the tourist. One tiny quibble. I take issue with the idea that bike lanes are just for white people, or that the Esplanade bike lane created a white stripe through that neighborhood. Bikes have long been a common form of transportation for anybody without access to a car–including a whole lot of people of color. Statistically, middle aged Black men are the most likely to be hurt in bike crashes in New Orleans. Making the streets safer for people on bikes may *feel* like a white/gentrifying thing, but that’s because of how it’s represented, not because it accurately reflects who is riding that street and who benefits from safety. I know–small throwaway comment, but it aggravates me to see stereotypes like this continually circulate because it just does NOT represent the majority of folks who ride bikes in New Orleans, or most other cities.

      • Really? They’re put in as streets are fixed up as part of a Complete Streets plan. St. Claude was first, and it goes all the way out the the Jefferson Parish line. That certainly wasn’t put in to herald gentrification. Why isn’t it on Chartres, if that were the case? Why did the first protected bike lane go in the Gentilly neighborhood? I actually think it’s urban legend that bike lanes are put in because of gentrification.

    • There is nothing wrong with that, but that does not make AirBnB bad. I don’t like having guests over all the time, but i have used AirBnB a couple times to rent out space here because there is a huge shortage of rooms for some events. It helps the economy because there are literally 0 hotel rooms left in the city, and the guests could not come to New Orleans otherwise. Nobody loses anything, and its nice to have a few extra dollars.

  • “But with the addition of a bike lane, a line of white movement is
    imposed along Esplanade, fracturing the continuity of Claiborne.”

    …Excuse me, what are you even saying?? That it was bad that the city repaired a road and installed a safe bike lane because ‘White People” use it? You don’t think that the “continuity of Claiborne” was in any way disturbed by that giant interstate that was built 50 years ago?

    I really fail to see the problem with people who live in New Orleans being positively effected by the tourist industry (whether they’re “from here” or not, they’re still putting money in poorer neighbourhoods and local businesses). Sure they should pay taxes, but this article chose not to focus on that, and instead make it a weird race issue.

      • hmmmm….. a hurricane flooding the city (and destroying much of our housing)… and homeowners / flood insurance rising to almost double mortgage payments… those are the main culprits for rising housing costs. this impacts homeowners, renters, short term renters. everyone. and that has nothing to do with gentrifiers, cultural capitalizers, neighborhood destroyers etc. the reality for many homeowners is either foreclose or find a way to hold onto your home.

      • a. There are BnB’s that break the law, especially when the owners do not live on the premises. This creates problems from noise, especially. And it creates other problems.
        b. Isn’t this a class issue — the better off BnB/Hotel Wannabe’s vs. the homeowners who are under duress from a city that has increased property taxes, fees, utility bills, and is now considering more of the same, along with increases in insurance… Meanwhile homeowners are burdened with increased cost to protect property – alarm systems, etc, because the police patrols are naught? the criminals never caught? and no end in sight here?

    • And yet tourism is what causes the restaurant to thrive, and lets all the workers there pay their bills and partake in the culture of the city they have been part of for a long time.

      There are upsides and downsides of the tourist economy that has driven this city…but your point is just simpleminded.

      The owner chose to make Cake Cafe smokeless outside…have the balls and brains to place the blame where it belongs…the owner. You would take away his right to do that?

  • I run a host-occupied Airbnb in the Marigny, in fact I’m probably the “artist from New Jersey” mentioned in this article because that’s exactly as I put it in my profile.

    I started doing Airbnb a year ago after my roommate and I found ourselves six months into living in this house, and three roommates gone already. The first one couldn’t pay rent and punched a whole in the wall on his way out. The second couldn’t pay rent, sexually harassed me, brought crust punks (the herion addicted kind!) home, and stole $500 from my roommate. The third, he was alright, but after four months without a job he could no longer pay rent and moved out of the state. In the past year, none of our Airbnb guests have sexually harassed me, none have punched holes in the wall, stolen money, or brought crust punks home, AND they all pay their rent. Airbnb has given me lots of opportunities, friends all over the world, the chance to see this city over and over through new eyes, and most importantly, it pays my rent so I can use the money I make drawing and selling caricatures of King Tourist in the French Quarter to pay off student loans and feed myself.

  • I run a host-occupied Airbnb in the Marigny, in fact I’m probably the “artist from New Jersey” mentioned in this article because that’s exactly as I put it in my profile.

    I started doing Airbnb a year ago after my roommate and I found ourselves six months into living in this house, and three roommates gone already. The first one couldn’t pay rent and punched a hole in the wall on his way out. The second couldn’t pay rent, sexually harassed me, brought crust punks (the herion addicted kind!) home, and stole $500 from my roommate. The third, he was alright, but after four months without a job he could no longer pay rent and moved out of the state. In the past year, none of our Airbnb guests have sexually harassed me, none have punched holes in the wall, stolen money, or brought crust punks home, AND they all pay their rent. Airbnb has given me lots of opportunities, friends all over the world, the chance to see this city over and over through new eyes, and most importantly, it pays my rent so I can use the money I make drawing and selling caricatures of King Tourist in the French Quarter to pay off student loans and feed myself.

    • the image of “brett and amy” is actually of my husband and myself. and the title “shabby chic 7th ward” is ours (but 8th ward). and the house is our house. as the authors said, “everyone in nola has a hustle.” the authors of this article- their hustle is hatin.

    • Look, I feel for your situation, but it can’t be THAT difficult to find room mates. And if all your income is selling art in the FQ what the heck are you doing buying in the second most expensive neighbourhood in NOLA? Disregarding the very zoning laws that have made the city attractive in the first place makes everything worse. This whole illegal BnB thing has to go.

      • First off, she states quite clearly that she’s a renter, not an owner. Secondly, she had roommates that were renters already, so how does AirBnB change that? Lastly- you only need to be licensed of you are renting to 5 or more unrelated people (Chapter 30, Article XVIII, Division 1 of the New Orleans Code of Ordinances). I know reading is tough, but perhaps with a little effort you can power through it!

        • She does not state that she’s a renter, you yank fucking techbro douchenozzle. And if she actually is a renter pulling this crap then fuck her, and fuck you. Disruptive idea: go back to where ever the fuck you worthless dog yoga studio owning assholes came from. No more Americans. Go the FUCK home.

          • and I quote- “it pays my rent so I can use the money I make drawing and selling
            caricatures of King Tourist in the French Quarter to pay off student
            loans and feed myself”

            And as far as going home- I’m already there jackass. I love how anyone who doesn’t agree with you is automatically labelled as a Yankee or an outsider.

          • “I love how anyone who doesn’t agree with you is automatically labelled as a Yankee or an outsider.” Another fine New Orleans tradition centuries old! Ha

        • Let’s just say I hope you get lost in one of “your” authentic neighborhoods. Disruptive idea! – I will do everything I can to get the city to smack a million pound shithammer on you techbro douchenozzles. And seriously, Yank, what does it matter that this incoherent “artist” is a renter or an owner? As a renter it’s even less intelligible and understandable.

          • Yes. You seem like precisely the kind of person that city officials will be paying a lot of attention to. I’m sure you have a lot of pull.

          • God, being called a “Yankee” as if it were some sort of putdown is one of things I miss about that city. I’m a Yankee and I’ll go where ever I please. Deal with it. That city needs another Ben Butler to come down and knock a little bit of class into it.

        • There is a city law regarding bed and breakfasts that is not part of the city code, and this person’s AirBnB rentals fall under it. It requires a license and a $200/year licensing fee for people renting 1 or 2 rooms.

      • Except that she actually said that it WAS that difficult to find roommates. It can be hard if you have things like “standards.” You know, things like expecting that your roommates won’t find rent paying, along with personal hygiene, to be optional. Also, what the poster you’re replying to is doing isn’t illegal in any sense of the word.

        • Actually if she is just renting out room in her house I don’t care about that at all. There are many people with 5-10 properties in that area that are purely AirBnb. They are taking housing out of circulation and that is serious business.

  • Dylan Fettig, AntiGravity artist,

    Im not sure who you are, but a quick google search shows a poet/comic fan/artist who proudly lived in Brattleboro Vermont very recently (2012) before coming to New Orleans (as an artist for a local paper, a biography would be fair’ but would take away from whatever false authenticity you have imagined you need in New Orleans to prove you are realer than us) who seems a heck of a lot like you (If I am wrong, and I doubt it, let us know who you are, it is only fair if you choose to do what you do). Would that be who you are? Are you another of the truckloads who comes to our city to lay judgement on those who have been here longer who don’t fit your standards of cool or New Orleansy?

    I am sure your drawings get fat chuckles with your claque of “New Orleans would be so righteous if it was just the people Im friends with here” crowd, might even get you laid by those girl slumming here from Vassar, but frankly, bores the fuck out of people who look at the world a little deeper than a judgemental 20 something like you (another guess, prove me wrong).

    Your cartoon offends me. Basing your caricature cartoon on real people who know this city and have done a hell of a lot more for it than you have, and not even having the balls to contact them…well enjoy your smug superiority, to me, thats not what makes New Orleans great, but Im an old man who can’t keep up with what the kids think of as hip in this city anymore, which I suppose I should feel good about.

    Thank you for coming down to our city, and using your skills to teach us how to keep it real by your well formed standards. Now grow up or go home…we don’t need more of this.

    • In fairness, the article was written by Jules Bentley and Dorian Commode. I have no idea who the latter is, but the former spends a great deal of time condemning things like “whiteness”, “cultural imperialism” and (weirdly) hackathons. He spends much less time on things like “facts” and “research” — which, in all fairness, are pretty boring.

      See Richard Campanella for better writing covering the same topics.

  • on the next block over from me in the marigny, there are at least four full time air bnb rental houses. in fact, a long term elderly woman was recently just kicked out of her place in order for the home owner to make more room for his air bnb business. all of these short term rentals destroy the integrity of the neighborhood and force real residents out creating a shell of a neighborhood.

  • Stupid article. What they fail to account for is that (a) when ppl useairbnb, the money stays right here in Nola. When they go to the Marriott, the cash goes straight to Utah. Secondly, it gives neighborhoods that usually never have access tourism way more opportunity to get their fair share of the pie (the author acts like the FQ is the only place they deserve to go). Third, independent B&Bs often use it to boost sales, so only giant hotels suffer. The system should be betterregulated, more taxes collected, but it’s an overall great opportunity for the middle class of New Orleans

    • Only a percentage of the cash goes to Utah… The rest — which is probably a pretty large portion — goes to pay the people who work at the hotels, and those people generally live in or around New Orleans, too.

    • You are in denial that many airbnb properties are not owned by locals. I am surrounded by properties in SF city proper owned by absentee landlords profiteering from afar. They have NO interest about what goes on on Green St, much less SF, other than lining their pockets.

  • What’s really interesting about this is how it is really a lengthy opinion piece based on almost zero research masquerading as a piece of journalism. Let’s just take the introduction, for example, where the author states as a fact that Airbnb hosts are renting their properties “illegally” and in violation of NOLA’s code. Is this true? Maybe in some cases, but the author’s summary of what the code actually says is incomplete and totally misleading. The article states the following:

    “In New Orleans, if you’re renting other people living space for less than 30 days (60 in the French Quarter), the city requires you pay per-room taxes and hundreds in yearly licensing fees.”

    In actuality, the code applies only if you rent to five or more unrelated persons. For anyone interested, you can find this in Chapter 30, Article XVIII, Division 1 of the New Orleans Code of Ordinances. Does this apply to every Airbnb host? I doubt it, and the author clearly couldn’t be bothered to figure it out either. What about the per-room taxes and licensing fees referred to by the author? Do those actually exist? The code doesn’t mention it, and the author doesn’t bother to point to any source that would indicate its truth or falsity.

    The author makes several other totally unsupported assumptions. For instance:

    Does the presence of an Airbnb renter actually take away from the business of other, licensed and more traditional vacation accommodations? The author certainly doesn’t know, and can’t be bothered to do the research to find out.

    Does the presence of Airbnb rentals have any actual, statistically significant impact on the availability of rental properties for NOLA residents? The author doesn’t know, and hasn’t done the research to find out.

    Do Airbnb rentals of full houses, rather than a room in a resident-occupied house represent a rental by a non-resident “profiteer?” The author says so, but you just have to take him on his word, because he certainly didn’t bother to find out whether that’s a fact, or just his biased speculation.

    Anyway, I could go on, but I assume I’ve made my point.

    The tl;dr version: What a twat.

    • Ah, I will retract one portion of my comment. To the extent that an Airbnb host does rent to five or more unrelated persons, and is therefore subject to the code, Division 2 provides that there is an annual permitting fee of $200, and you are required to submit to inspections. See where sloppy research gets you?

      However, there is still nothing about per-room taxes for lodging houses. On the other hand, there is a “Hotel Occupancy Privilege Tax” found in Chapter 150, Article VIII of the Ordinances. To the extent that an Airbnb qualifies as a “hotel,” which it won’t, unless each sleeping room has an attached, private bathroom, the Airbnb would be subject to no tax at all for a “hotel” with 2 rooms or less, and a per-room tax of 50 cents for a “hotel” with 3 or more rooms.

      Hardly the killer loss of municipal revenue suggested by the article.

        • Man, you all sure do get your tits in a wringer over yank outsiders or whatever, don’t you? But you’re right, I don’t live there, I’m from Chicago, so I’m not as delicate and sensitive as you all; in fact, I am number one yank fucking outsider, and I’m tougher than you and I’m meaner than you, but I’ll smile while I’m kicking your soft, southern ass, and I’ll even buy you a beer afterwards, because I’m from the midwest, and we have fucking manners, yo.

          • lol ok Lady sure You Tougher and Meaner than New Orleans. If you say so!

            Lord the Internet got people Tripping.

            But Sadly this is Typical. They act Like This and then Cry because they don’t get an Open Armed welcome in a city already over full of Northern Arrogance.

            Being in Loneliness is a Very Serious condition Jane, it Does make People crazy. I am Sorry for your Situation, that You spend your days on This Earth incorrectly Studying on and Arguing city Codes for a City you aint even live in. Bless you and I hope things Turn around for you girl.

          • Lol. I’ve never had any troubles being welcomed with open arms when I’ve been to New Orleans, but I don’t think I’ve dealt with anyone like you, who scrambles for the crumbs left by “arrogant northerners” with one hand while flipping us off with the other.

            Serious question though, why so much hate for tourists? I think your anger at tourists is misplaced, honestly. Blaming “arrogant northerners” for the problems in your city is overlooking the obvious. Maybe instead of being all mad at us, you should ask why the city you love doesn’t love you back, and try working on that problem.

          • I am a native New Yorker. Grew up in Brooklyn. Not current hipster Brooklyn. I’m talking Dinkins Brooklyn. Guiliani Brooklyn. My family is from here and I have been living in New Orleans for two years. I can promise you.. PROMISE you you are not tougher or meaner then New Orleans. This city may be in the South but trust me, behind her pretty streets, her jazz fest, public drinking and mardi gras, her bite is VERY vicious and will chew you up and spit you out just as fast, if not faster then NYC or Chicago in a way that you have never ever experienced. On the same note, this city will also embrace you and nurture you and welcome you like no other. You will experience music and culture here that you cant experience anywhere else. NOLA is a city that if you love it, it will love you back but there are thousands of northerners here trying to turn this city into their version of NYC or Chicago which is a dangerous idea for many NOLA residents. Noise ordinances, yuppie hipster crap that basically infested New York and drove out most of NYCs authentic young artists. If Chicago or NY are so fantastic why not just stay there! Problem solved! But don’t come here thinking for some reason you know more or are more street smart or have more sense then this city does because you came here from some big city because you will learn REALLY fast that this city has its own rules and its own way of life. PS: I love how Chicago people think their so tough. LMFAO. New Yorkers think its pretty cute.

    • Speaking of shoddy research:

      Chapter 30, Article XVIII, Division 1 of the New Orleans Code of Ordinances

      Roominghouse, boardinghouse or lodginghouse
      means a building other than an apartment hotel, hotel, small and large
      group homes, residential care center, dormitory, motel or motor lodge,
      or tourist home, containing sleeping rooms where lodging or lodging and
      meals are provided for five or more unrelated persons but containing
      less than 15 sleeping rooms. The sleeping rooms generally do not have
      private bathrooms or kitchen attached thereto. In a residential zoning
      district, the minimum length of stay in a roominghouse, boardinghouse or lodginghouse shall be 30 days.

      • Hey! Thanks so much for pointing out the section of code that I already pointed out! And thanks again for totally missing the same point that the article misses. Which is, before you even get to the part about the minimum length of a stay, you have to figure out whether the Airbnb you’re talking about is actually subject to the code. As I said before, and as that portion of the code states, it only applies “where lodging or lodging and meals are provided for five or more unrelated persons.” You all keep assuming that this applies to all Airbnbs, but it doesn’t. Places that rent to four persons or less don’t fall under the code. Get it?

        • The section of code you point out applies to roominghouses, which is another category altogether, as stated in the code itself, OTHER than hotels, tourist homes, or motels. You’re trying to apply information from the wrong section of city code. Here’s the actual statutes regarding bed and breakfasts:

          These both clearly state that all bed and breakfasts, which are defined as having one to nine rooms for rent, are subject to annual licensing fees. For 1-2 room B&Bs, it’s $200.25, for 3-6 rooms, $600.25. You are correct that the hotel occupancy privilege tax only applies to B&Bs with 3+ rooms, and that sales tax only applies when there are 6+ rooms for rent.

          • LMFAOO WOMP WOMP Jane Doe.. time to go home. I love you factchecker. I would totally hold hands with you in public.

          • An interesting and in depth article. Not sure I agree with everything, but do understand the sentiment.

            I have been a temporary visitor of the city most of my life, with family here until a couple of years ago. Now rather than sell their property and leave the city connection I would like to AirBnB an apartment so that I can continue to visit often, and it isn’t dormant while I’m out of town.

            I applied to the City for the license mentioned above, and despite meeting all the criteria – namely no other BnB on the same block, number of days rented, owner of property rather than subletting etc, they were unable to process an application to allow me to pay this annual tax! Seems very strange…

            AirBnB have a system that enforces payment of federal tax, but the city don’t have a system to allow people to pay the local one even when they want to!

  • You know, you could have just extended the “Uncomfortable Conversations” section of this essay a little bit, and had something reasonable and convincing.

    Too bad you felt the need to preamble this with scads of Hipsterer Than Thou whinging about tourists and people invading “your” city who you don’t think are cool enough.

    Also, yes, I hate to break it to you but..not only white hipsters from Vassar ride bicycles in New Orleans. I know, I was shocked too.

  • I could barely get through this whole article because it’s so poorly written and its subject matter is all over the map! AirBNB! Racism! Hipsters! Neighborhood associations! Bike Lanes! Chess! Go! Pre-Katrina/Post Katrina! “Continuity of Claiborne”?! WTF SERIOUSLY? This piece is laying all sort of blame on all sorts of things at airBNB’s feet and it just doesn’t wash. Look, I run an airBNB out of my home and really, screw anyone who says I’m not allowed. This is my home: I live in it, I pay taxes on it, and I own it. I totally love meeting all these people who want to visit New Orleans. Hotel rooms here are too few, too full, and too expensive. The extra income (which is taxed) has changed my life. That being said, I seriously do not approve of renters doing it (sorry guys, that just not okay and yes it’s COMPLETELY different than “…like, just having a bunch of different roommates, you know?”) and I even-more-seriously do not approve of non-Orleans residents (be they from Metarie or New Jersey or Australia) scooping up houses and turning them into illegal short-term rentals. That truly does have a negative effect: where are people supposed to live if all the apartment stock is being airBNB’d for $100 a night? Claiming “but I beautified a blighted house so that’s all that matters.” is BS. I live in the Marigny and I want neighbors, not vacationers. The Marigny-Bywater area is lousy with airBNBs and VRBOs. I do think something needs to be done about this before every historic New Orleans neighborhood is reduced to being nothing but one big fat B&B.

    • The first half of your comment: “entitlement entitlement entitlement money entitles me to do whatever the law (which serves those with money) allows.”
      The second half: “I can do it but no one else can. NIMBY NIMBY NIMBY.” Your perspective on the world around you is so self-centered and narrow I’m surprised you can see the computer to type.
      EDIT: after reading through your comment again outside of the context of reading all the comments from the top down to yours, you do make good points that I generally agree with, though I still think you have a bit of a defensiveness and blindspot in your perspective. I think we generally agree on most things you said in general about Airbnb. What we disagree on is your perspective of your personal situation as you describe it. Sorry for being so harsh.

      • Actually, there’s a big difference between what I do with the New Orleans property I own and live in vs what someone else does with the property they live in but someone else owns; and even more difference between that and someone buying up property all over the city with no intention to live or contribute here – just to make a bundle. Let’s say you were a landlord, with renters on a year’s lease. Forget about the money: wouldn’t you want to know if they were renting out the entire apartment to people they’ve never met while they’re away on vacation? That wouldn’t worry you? Well, you’d make a way friendlier landlord than I would, if that’s the case. You’re right, the law DOES allow for legal airBNB-ing: it’s called a license. it’s annoying, and God knows this city is ridunkulous when it comes to red tape and licensing, but hey: it makes it LEGAL so, duh. My point was that there are several different airBNB rental-types, and two of them are problematic at best. Your point is to be a troll with seemingly nothing to contribute.

  • I see Many Facebook Likes and Lots of Angry Discussion. But here is something missing. I am not Mad at anyone who is renting out their home to Make Money.


    In the city So many things “we” Used to do to make Money are not Available. Kids Can’t sell bottle Water at the Jazz Fest! Nobody can sell T shirts or Beers near the Dome. If you try and Sell Pralines on Claiborne NOPD comes gives you a expensive ticket. Same at a Second Line.

    So What is the Difference between All these “illegal” things that have been SHUT DOWN and Air B and B which is allowed to go with No Interference?


    Except Not Really, you all know the Difference….

  • Love Jules’ writing, as usual. But frankly, I don’t do much traveling because accommodations are so expensive. It often costs $100 a night for the shittiest hotel in Pensacola even. I enjoy Jules’ writing for the way it points out unintended consequences of things that otherwise seem great — his writing is super valuable for pointing out what we don’t want to see, or the bad things that COULD arise. To that I don’t think this piece successfully discounts the need for Air B&B, it just gives a template for not being an Air B&B asshole. As far as Air B&B being a scourge or something, I see it like the record companies: if they hadn’t been charging us $20 for a CD that should cost a couple bucks, then the market maybe wouldn’t have reacted with such rampant bootlegging. If B&B’s and hotels stopped gouging customers, they might not be facing this strange wave of “competition.”

    • Or put more succinctly: If an OK room at a New Orleans hotel or B&B went for a decent price (and not $400-a-night during JazzFest, which is pretty “normal”), then I would never want to stay at some stranger’s private house.

  • I think this article would have been more persuasive if it had stayed more tightly on topic. Apparently the author finds the owners of Booty’s Street Food to be smarmy, but how does that relate to Airbnb? Coming off as hotheaded suggests the author may not have carefully considered other aspects of the argument.

  • Jackson

    What I sense from both this long article and those complaining about Airbnb is the fact that Airbnb is driving market rentals down to a more reasonable level. Airbnb opens the rental market long monopolized by hotels and B & Bs to the amateurs. And surprise, surprise! The amateurs are just about as good as the hotels and B & B operators.

    Rather than bitch about competition, do what you should do: improve your service to our tourists, or lower your price.

    More tourists in town is good for the city and for nearly all businesses. That may exclude those businesses who gouge visitors. And I say, Airbnb is a wonderful cure to you gougers.

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