Lightfoot proposes ban on booking single-night rentals
Amid a pandemic and civil unrest, Chicago’s mayor chooses to crack down on parties.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is proposing a ban on booking single-night vacation rentals in the city to crack down on “party houses.”
The ordinance, which passed the City Council Licensing Committee on Aug. 25, would make her COVID-19 policy permanent. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Chicago has temporarily banned single-night rentals in an effort limit gatherings.
If Lightfoot gets her way, companies such as Airbnb and Vrbo will be subjected to much stricter rules. The services list independent property owners who rent their properties to guests for one night or more. Under the new rules, owners would no longer be able to give a person a one-night stay as they pass through the Windy City.
Lightfoot and many aldermen believe the ordinance will limit houses that are used strictly for parties. Ald. Michele Smith, 43rd Ward, said it gives the city the tools to regulate rental properties much like bars and restaurants that face noise and smell regulations.
However, Airbnb already regulates the activity on properties it lists and prohibits guests from throwing parties. Their community standards state “guests who hold such events will have their account removed, and hosts who violate this rule and allow guests to throw open-invite parties will be subject to account consequences.”
Further involvement from the city will do more harm to the city’s ability to attract tourism and restart its economy.
“The one-night ban is a blunt instrument that blocks legitimate reservations, such as business travel, to Chicago, hurting the eventual return of the tourism economy, tax revenue and income for responsible Airbnb hosts,” company spokesman Samuel Randall said in a statement.
While Chicago faces a massive revenue deficit from lost economic activity during the pandemic and record violence, Lightfoot seems to be more focused on regulating businesses and parties. The day before rioters ransacked the Magnificent Mile, Lightfoot personally visited Chicago’s lakefront to disperse a beach party.
Lightfoot’s priorities need to be focused on helping the city recover from the pandemic’s economic fallout and protecting the city from riots and looting. Pushing more regulation on vacation rental properties just gives tourists and business people another reason to skip a visit to Chicago.