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A pro-Airbnb rally outside City Hall in October 2015. (Getty)

As Airbnb fends off crackdown efforts by Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council, two state lawmakers are pushing a bill that would create laws intended to override New York City’s set of stringent and often complex regulations on the home-sharing industry.

State Senator James Skoufis and Assemblyman Joe Lentol have introduced a bill that would require all short-term rentals in the city to be registered with the state, limit New Yorkers to listing only one home on one home-sharing platform, and allow the company to collect state and local tourist taxes. As part of an amendment made this week to allay concerns of affordable housing advocates, the bill would prohibit short-term rentals in public housing and rent-stabilized housing.

Airbnb, which has fought other attempts at regulation but supports this legislation and asked Lentol to sponsor it, has said the bill would generate about $100 million in annual tax revenue for the state.

The San Francisco-based home-sharing giant has more than 50,000 listings in New York City, which is the company’s largest market, but city officials have argued that many of them are by commercial operators that rent out residential units as illegal tourist hotels. The de Blasio administration estimates that about one-third of listings on the top five short-term rental sites are commercial.

Aggressive lobbying from both sides has cast a shadow over the debate. Skoufis, a Democrat from Orange County, has come under criticism for receiving nearly half a million dollars from Airbnb’s political action committee. On the flip side, the Hotel Trades Council, one of the state’s most powerful unions and a fierce opponent of Airbnb, spent about $400,000 on 2017 City Council races, and gave critical support to Council Speaker Corey Johnson during the speaker’s race, according to Politico.

The fight over the legislation took an ugly turn on Wednesday, when Skoufis tweeted a screenshot of a text from HTC’s political director, Jason Ortiz, requesting a meeting. Skoufis promptly canceled the meeting after seeing HTC share critical tweets of him. In a retaliation tweet, he referred to the HTC members as “unprofessional thugs.”

The HTC responded with a torrent of tweets against Skoufis. In one tweet, the union accused the senator of using “racially tinged name calling.”

Skoufis spokesperson Jessica Gulotta told Gothamist, “Anyone accusing him of sponsoring a bill because of campaign support does not know James and has not bothered to look at his record as a legislator.”

Of the Hotel Trades Council, she said, “They have a PAC too, they donate too.”

(That PAC, Hotel Workers for Stronger Communities, gave around $400,000 to candidates in 2017’s citywide elections.)

Gulotta said Skoufis’s controversial tweet was meant to reflect “the type of tactics used that are aggressive and bullying. That was the point he was trying to make there.”

In January, Airbnb, along with other home-sharing sites, won a huge victory against city regulations after a federal judge blocked the city from instituting a law that would have required home-sharing services to give monthly reports to the city with detailed information about tens of thousands of listings, including the identities and addresses of their hosts. De Blasio fought back, by issuing a subpoena for the information.


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