Did the Hotel Lobby SuperPac donations make Mayor Fulop flip-flop on his STR Ordinance?

Dear Editor:

In May 2017, after reading Mayor Fulop’s Airbnb Oped in Huffington post, I bought a house in Jersey City. I maxed my credit cards and took money from my 401k to complete the renovations. I succeeded to launch my Airbnb and became a superhost because guests love my property.

However a couple of months ago, Mayor Fulop changed his mind. He has been pushing an ordinance that would revert his 2015 legislation, and would eradicate the majority of the Airbnbs in Jersey City. Mayor Fulop is completely flip flopping on his 2015 Pro Airbnb position, promises and PR stunts. This would bankrupt me because long term rental rates won’t cover my costs, and won’t be able to get out of debt.

Additionally, the ordinance will kill local jobs, will lose revenue from the local businesses and remove tax revenue from the city and state budget. Here’s the tally of the damage caused by the ordinance:

1. $130M from local businesses coming from Airbnb tourist revenue will be lost. As a result up to 1,300 employees from small/local business could get fired because Airbnb tourist revenue will be lost. This will lead to about $7 million lost in state tax revenue. That’s the equivalent of the salaries of 125 teachers. 300 teachers were already fired a couple of months ago because of shortage in funds, 125 more could get fired if more shortage of funds is created.

2. Loss of $3M in tax revenue from Short Term Rental Stays ($2M from Airbnb and 1M from the other sites e.g., VRBO).

That’s the equivalent of the salaries of 40 local govt employees who could get fired because of Jersey City budget lost revenue.

3. Up to 1,000 housekeepers who keep the Airbnbs running could get fired if those Airbnbs stop operating in JC.

4. It will give hotels a monopoly allowing them to charge up to $500/night.

We repeatedly asked Mayor Fulop and the council members proposing this ordinance if they have any data showing negative impact of Airbnbs in the community or any data backing positive effects of this Ordinance. None of them did. I met with councilwoman Prinz Arey on 6/13 for almost an hour and she couldn’t provide any data. It was clear that she didn’t have a grasp of the issues – she thought I was working for Airbnb – she didn’t understand the concept of sharing economy.

Mr. Solomon tried to make the case that Airbnbs increased the rents in Jersey City and his reasoning was “Mental Models.” Multiple sources including Zillow & Trulia, contradict his statements and showed that rents decreased in Jersey City by 6 percent since 2016.

Mayor Fulop changed his Airbnb position after receiving donations from the Hotel Industry. People like David Barry and Joe Panepinto whoses companies built Marriott Downtown JC are donors to the Fulop Superpac. Marriott Downtown JC charges rates as high as $460/night. Eliminating Airbnb will allow them to gauge prices even more.

Thanks, Mr. Fulop, for crushing small businesses in favor of large hotels. Politics are dirty, enjoy the Hotel Lobby SuperPac sweet sweet cash!

Ioan A.