Local Governments Want Their Share When it Comes to Airbnb

Nov 17, 2016

Local governments across Virginia are preparing for an epic battle next year in Richmond. As Michael Pope reports, they want a piece of the Airbnb action.

How many homeowners in Roanoke or Norfolk operate Airbnb rentals? That remains a mystery to local government leaders there and everywhere else in Virginia. That’s because Airbnb won’t say how many locations they have. Or where they are. Frank Shafroth at George Mason University says Airbnb likes to promote itself as part of the sharing economy. But the company  shares very little about itself. 

“It particularly does not want to have to deal with local governments, which in Virginia as in every other state, is the level of government that deals with land use, zoning, noise protection, crime."

Geoff Skelley at the University of Virginia Center for Politics says lawmakers realise they may  be setting an important precedent.

“We’re probably going to have other companies coming along changing the lay of the land in other areas of the economy, and so how they act here could also foretell how they might act in    other areas too."

Next month, members of the Virginia Housing Commission are expected to consider a series of   recommendations for the next General Assembly session - one that could include a knock-down-drag out fight about how much power local governments should have over Airbnb rentals.