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Letter: Airbnbs must be regulated for neighborhood peace

A Dec. 31 News article suggests that the many Airbnb rentals springing up in the Buffalo area have boosted Western New York tourism.

The logic here is questionable, but the article also fails to address negative effects of the Airbnb movement other than the loss of government revenue.

Sensing lucrative business opportunities, outside investors can buy large homes and rent them to whatever number of unsupervised “guests” they can accommodate, charging accordingly. This is obviously unfair to the licensed bed and breakfasts and hotels which pay fees and are subject to regulations.

But more important to those living in close proximity to the large Airbnbs is what happens to their quality of life particularly in the summer when a group of 15 or more in the Airbnb next door take over an outdoor deck or swimming pool and party into the night with no concern for those living nearby. It’s happening, and owners can charge $600 or more for a night for it, so change isn’t likely to take place voluntarily.

Chapter 269 of the Buffalo City Code specifies that “a building in which three or more persons are accommodated for a fee with sleeping privileges” is defined as a “lodging house” and among other requirements the code requires such places to be licensed, and to have an approved agent residing on the property.

A letter to the Buffalo mayor’s office regarding this issue received no reply. The district councilman, when asked why this law isn’t applied to Airbnb houses, claims simply that they’re exempt.

So, for Airbnbs, no license required, no fee to the city, no inspections, no concern for neighbors. Result: loud outdoor gatherings, a lot of noise and a greatly diminished quality of life for those who live in the neighborhood. The Airbnbs must be regulated.

Arlan Peters

Buffalo

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