The short term rental controversy is a perfect illustration of the divide that exists between the elite classes in government and politics and the great majority of us among the governed.
For us, the housing crisis in New Orleans is real. Rents are too damn high. Incomes are stagnant. We look around our neighborhoods and see more and more properties converted into de-facto hotels and wonder which bridge we're going to end up living under.
Meanwhile our "representatives" look around and see their friends and family making the most out of their investments.
Underscoring how complicated the issue has become in New Orleans, a second member of Mayor Mitch Landrieu's family confirmed that he has a short-term rental on his property, even as another Landrieu relative opposes the practice.
Mark Landrieu, the brother of the mayor, acknowledged Thursday he hosts people in a short-term rental on his property that rents for $80 a night. He also rented a home he owns near the Fair Grounds on Airbnb during Jazz Fest.
In an interview, Mark Landrieu said he's a supporter of people being able to rent out homes to people visiting New Orleans, and said he hopes the City Council will approve regulations next week that are fair to Airbnb hosts and their neighborhoods.
The political class, meaning the elected persons, their families, and their professional associates as well as the so called "business and community leaders" who move in their social circles do not identify with us. They don't know us so our voices are not the voices they hear and respond to on a day to day basis. When Stacy Head says she hears "a consistent drumbeat of requests to move tourists into other neighborhoods than the French Quarter and the CBD,” she's not lying about that.
The political class and their friends and family are fine with STR liberalization. They own property that can be Airbnbed.
New Orleans Magistrate Judge Harry Cantrell operated two short-term rentals out of his former downtown law office that were listed on Airbnb until at least May, according to a public profile set up on the website. The rentals were illegal under the city's zoning code, as are thousands of other rentals across New Orleans.
One of Cantrell's rentals, a two-bedroom featuring four twin beds, rented for $245 per night, according to the short-term rental aggregation website Alltherooms.com. Reviews on Cantrell's Airbnb profile page indicated his other rental was a one-room studio with a small kitchen and bathroom, though it's unclear what Cantrell was charging for rent because both listings have since been removed.
Cantrell lists his name on the Airbnb website as "Hey, I'm Cantrell!" But from the reviews on the website, it appears Cantrell employed a property manager at the law office to handle visitors. The three-story building is at 309 Baronne St., about three blocks from Canal Street.
Cantrell, who is the father-in-law of City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell, did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
Our friends and family have to be shoved out of the way so they can do that. But our elected persons don't know, hear from, or care about us. And that's why we're going to lose.