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What do you think about Airbnb’s presence in Detroit’s neighborhoods?

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Photo by Michelle & Chris Gerard

Welcome to Friday Tuesday Open Threads, wherein we’ll pass the mic to readers to speak up about topics of interest, distress, horror, and more. Have something you want discussed? Let us know.

Last week, a new zoning ordinance went into effect that would ban short-term rentals, or Airbnb units, in R1 and R2 zones in Detroit. If it was enforced, that would affect those listing units in single-family homes or duplexes in Detroit neighborhoods.

Of course, the city then said they wouldn’t enforce the new ordinance until it went under legal review. The City Council released a statement saying:

“The new ordinance was a direct result of community concerns and was approved after two public hearings and after a coordinated effort between the administration, City Council, City Planning Commission, the Law department, and BSEED. We listened to residents who were concerned about the integrity of their neighborhood, and it becoming a de facto, high traffic “hotel district.” We also understand the need for, and history of Detroit homeowners renting out rooms and property for supplemental income. We believe these two interests can, and will be met, and resolved for the good of Detroiters.”

Our Curbed Detroit commenters weren’t shy about voicing their concerns about the new ordinance or how the city handled it. Many thought it would be a good thing for the neighborhoods, and that they’d rather have neighbors instead of a rotating guest list of visitors. Some thought it was pandering to developers, seeing as Detroit has three new hotels opening up this year.

Commenter Detroit Spartan offered this viewpoint:

And guess what, you don’t get a say who your neighbors are whether they live in a home as their primary residence, rent it long-term or rent it short-term. Would it make you happier knowing who your neighbor was even if they were some deadbeat who didn’t maintain their property (which there is plenty of going on across Detroit) vs. someone using the home as an Airbnb rental? Give me a break To have any kind of success they would have to keep a higher standard of maintenance and cleanliness to attract anyone to book the home. Yes, believe it or not, not everyone who uses Airbnb is an untrustworthy, transient drug-addict looking for a place to get high with 15 of their friends and wreak havoc on the property.

Detroit isn’t New York. It isn’t San Francisco. There are plenty of examples of cities who have been able to strike a balance and find a solution that works for everyone. This ordinance isn’t it. Airbnb has been nothing but positive for the city up to this point, offering an alternative to a currently lacking hotel selection and a way to connect with people in neighborhoods who actually live here. It also automatically collects and pays the state a 6% tax on every booking. Maybe require a percentage go to the city, too? Or require Airbnb operators to purchase a license to operate within the city? Maybe do anything to let it continue, generate more tourism revenue, and bring outsiders in to see what makes this place so great instead of trying to shut it down?

Dastardly Dan offered Vancouver’s solution as a possibility:

In Vancouver, BC, Airbnb is only allowed in owner-occupied housing… i.e. room or an apartment within a house. This allows for supplementary income for live-in homeowners, without all the negative effects listed above.

What do you think, readers? Should City Council enforce this new ordinance? Should it reconsider it to help out those who are using the income to fix up their homes? Should those who want to rent out units register as rentals in the city? Did you receive a notice? What would you like to see happen with this ordinance? Are you a visitor to Detroit who’s stayed in an Airbnb in a neighborhood? How did it help you see the city?

As always, let us know in the comments below.