Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Nobody actually lives here

Last week an organization called Neighbors for Neighborhoods held an organizing meeting to talk about the plague of short term rentals driving up rents and driving residents out of New Orleans neighborhoods in favor of part time second homes and tourists.  The meeting was joined by a landlords' group called Alliance for Neighborhood Prosperity apparently under the impression that it was a city sponsored public event. Most of them were turned away.
Those ANP members who did make it in were, unsurprisingly, not impressed with what they heard.

Rob White, a French Quarter resident, spent the bulk of the meeting highlighting many of the committee's grievances. For those of like mind, it was validation. For those who think otherwise, it was inflammatory. For or against, few of his remarks came as news to anyone who has been paying attention to the short-term rental debate.

Some of his points, paraphrased: Short-term rentals drive up housing costs by taking units for locals off the market. They erode neighborhood cohesion by creating neighborhoods where nobody lives. They are operated by people who openly flout the law in order to make a buck.

The so-called "sharing economy" is a sham, White said. "Sharing is when I have a ham sandwich and I give you half" When someone gives you a sandwich and then hands you the bill, that's a restaurant, he said.

In the case of the short-term rental business, the product is the neighborhood. "I'm being sold by the guy in Mississippi who rents short term," he said. "That is not sharing. That is colonization."

A half dozen of the ANP members in attendance walked out in the middle of his speech
That the landlords already feel like nobody has any right to talk to them like that should tell you enough about their position and the overwhelming likelihood that they're going to get their way from the city.   That the press spends even a moment entertaining the notion that the landlords have a legitimate beef should tell you the rest.

Anyway, if you'd like to watch the meeting, Dambala has the whole thing on video here.

Also, if you'd like to learn more about short term rentals and New Orleans neighborhoods, come see this presentation at Rising Tide.
Breonne DeDecker & her team are using research and GIS data to track Short Term Rentals in New Orleans. They're working to understand how this affects the overal rental market and figure out what sort of policy intervention could improve housing access and affordability.
Rising Tide X is August 29 at Xavier University. Check out the rest of the website for details about the extensive program. You can go for free this year but please register here. If you'd like to help defray the cost of production or order swag, there's a separate GoFundMe page here.

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