Airbnb loses crucial Jersey City vote, allegations fly

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop alleges Airbnb was responsible for spreading “misinformation and lies” in the run-up to a city-wide referendum on regulations for the short-term rental company. These allegations came after a pro-Airbnb group Keep Our Homes Jersey City accused the mayor of electioneering.

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On Nov. 5, Airbnb was dealt a setback after Jersey City voters approved limits on the amount of time a property owner can rent a property if they do not live on site. It also prohibits rental units from being allowed in buildings already containing more than four rentals, as FOX Business reported.

Keep Our Homes Jersey City tweeted a video showing Fulop speaking with a voter at a polling station, arguing the video is evidence of electioneering and is “in clear violation of the law.”

“Let’s clarify, they sent out a four-second, edited version of a video—which I said 'Release the whole video'—and it’s [clear] that I [nor anybody] on our campaign team was electioneering,” Fulop said on “Varney & Co.”

Fulop said what Keep Your Homes Jersey City did is "consistent with what Airbnb has done this entire campaign."

"They’ve spread misinformation and lies and it speaks to the ethics of the company."

- Steven Fulop, Jersey City mayor

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The Jersey City mayor explained the impetus behind the referendum, saying that his city, located directly across the Hudson River from New York City, has seen a proliferation of investors buying multiple houses and turning them into “illegal hotels.”

“It changes the character of a neighborhood. There’s safety issues, and we thought that some reasonable rules were acceptable."

- Steven Fulop, Jersey City mayor

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“From the start of this campaign, we knew this was going to be one of the toughest fights we’ve faced with the big New York hotel industry determined to fight home sharing, but we had an obligation to stand up for the community,” Airbnb spokesperson Christopher Nulty told FOX Business.

Mayor Fulop explained to Varney Jersey City was the first place Airbnb really dug in and pushed the issue to a vote. The company, he argued, did this due to the accessibility to the New York hotel market.

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“They miscalculated where the voters said publically how they feel about Airbnb."

- Steven Fulop, Jersey City mayor

Nutley called the vote "unfortunate."

“Cities from Buffalo to San Francisco and Boston to Seattle have managed to pass comprehensive short-term rental regulations without punishing tenants or creating red tape and onerous registration systems," Nutley said. "There are Airbnb listings in over 100,000 cities around the world and we will continue to do all we can to support hosts."

Fulop said Airbnb should be concerned.

“I think it’s the first time that the voters or people have directly made a statement about how they feel about Airbnb in their neighborhood,” Fulop said.

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