Letter to Editor: No, More Airbnb Regulations Won’t Solve Jersey City’s Woes

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A reader sent in the below letter in an effort to help inform voters regarding Municipal Question 1, commonly known as the Airbnb regulation. We’re open to other residents’ opinions and welcome additional letters. Reach out at [email protected].

Jersey City Airbnb Ban Vote
On Tuesday, Jersey City residents will vote on whether or not they would like more regulations on short-term rentals. Photo by Darrell Simmons/Jersey Digs.

If you are as confused as I was on the short-term rental vote on November 5th, this will help you navigate on what the ballot means. Let’s start with how the vote is being articulated which is confusing in itself. If you are against short-term rentals then you should vote YES. Yes means yes to regulations. If you are in favor of short-term rentals the VOTE is NO. No means no to regulations.


The major reason for the opposition of short-term rentals is being blamed on the lack of affordable housing. The reality is that there are 48,617 apartments that are either planned, proposed or under construction at the current time which is a total of 84 buildings. Out of those 84 buildings, only 1 building is affordable housing with a total of 126 apartments. There are 13 buildings that are partially affordable with a total of 649 apartments and there are 70 market-rate buildings with a total of 45,344 apartments that have 0 affordable apartments. That means that 1.3% of apartments being built are affordable housing. (Yardi)

Short-term rentals have nothing to do with the lack of affordable housing nor are they the cause or the solution to affordable housing. In none of the cities where short-term housing was banned/regulated was there a hike in affordable housing. San Francisco for example, passed regulations last year similar to the proposed regulations for Jersey City and even though it cut it’s short-term listings to almost half from over to 10,000 to approx. 5,500 (CNET) there was no boost in affordable housing.


We are in a very peculiar situation being that NYC is our next-door neighbor. We are directly impacted by their housing laws and intricacies. The reason that our city has grown so much is because NYC rents are so high. People migrated west to Jersey City in hopes of better rents. Renters found better rents, homeowners found better prices to buy homes, and investors found better deals to invest in. Now the Jersey City secret is no longer a secret, and everyone wants a piece of the pie. The homeless problem continues to rise and even if short-term housing were to disappear tomorrow, rents would not be affordable.

The big misconception is that Jersey City will become affordable again with the YES vote and that we will become a safe community where we know all neighbors and where children can play safely on the streets because no strangers will enter our city. As nice as that sounds, it is far from reality.

The city has grown so big and so fast that the long-term residents have a hard time coping with all the changes which is understandable. It is a lot of change in a short period of time. We went from a sleepy city that NYC frowned upon to being a destination city such as Brooklyn is. We are now the 6th borough.

The new residents are either are too new to know what is going on or simply not as invested because they haven’t been here long enough or won’t stay here long enough to really care. The old school residents were used to a quiet city, with little traffic, and knowing their neighbors for 30-40 years. I for sure am one of those old school residents, but I cannot fail to acknowledge that those days are gone and that failing to adapt to the changes will only make it harder on ourselves.

There are other reasons for the opposition of short term rentals such as noise, loitering, garbage, safety, parking, crowded public transportation, and not knowing who walks our streets. All of these things can happen anywhere and are especially prone to a city environment. I do not foresee Jersey City becoming quiet, less crowded, having better parking, or being clean because of regulation. When we have so many people living in such a high-density area it is only normal that things of this nature occur.

Back in 2015 Mayor Fulop welcomed short-term rentals with open arms and implemented a city tax of 6% on all short term rentals payable by the visitors at the time they booked their travel. That tax has brought in over $1M in revenue a year for the city (NJ.com). This drove property values up as investors would pay more for a property knowing the income from short-term housing will justify the hefty purchase price. Fast forward four years later and these same investors are being told they can no longer operate as they have been.

Does this mean that investors can just come into a city and turn everything into a hotel? No, of course not. Regulations for these types of operators are necessary. The real problem is the Jersey City residents that use these platforms to make ends meet. Our property taxes have risen anywhere from 25%-50% more in the past two years. Many people, especially the older residents, can no longer afford to live here and are barely getting by.

I happen to work with someone that has a six-family home. He is in his late 60’s and has lived in his property for over 40 years. His building is mostly tenants, but he has two units that his son helps rent online as short-term rentals, and this is how he pays his increased taxes. Under the new regulation, he will not be able to rent those two units anymore as short-term rentals and under rent control laws he will not be able to raise his rents. Therefore will not be able to pay his higher taxes. Now he has to sell his building and it is breaking his heart.

There is a very nice lady that decided to sell her downtown Jersey City brownstone home that she owned for over 20 years. With the profit she bought a primary home in a less hip area in Jersey City and an investment property not too far away from her new home. With the income from her investment home she lives her life and is financially independent in her 60’s. Now with the new regulations she will barely make enough to pay her taxes and bills. After a torrid divorce and selling the home she loved, she is now being told she is going to be broke in her elderly age. So she might just sell and move away.

How about the tenant whose landlord keeps raising the rent? Does he have to move out because he cannot afford the rent anymore? Granted going around renting ten apartments and placing them online to rent them as short-term rentals should have regulations, but not everything is as black and white as it is being portrayed. There is a lot of grey area that is not being talked about.

Instead of the city just saying it is either a yes or no vote, perhaps there should be a committee for non-conforming cases like the ones made above, where people are heard and exceptions can be made. Disposing of the long-term residents of the city is not what Jersey City should stand for. Yes, regulation is needed, but so is taking care of the people that have lived here before we were a “cool” city.

If you are in favor of regulation, you have probably been affected directly by bad guests having parties and making noise in the middle of the night, people parking in area with out of state license plates, or even being kicked out of your apartment because it turned into a short-term rental. Should you be upset? Sure, I would be too.

Regardless if you are in favor or against regulations at least know what you are voting for. Be informed before you vote, because neither do the short-term rentals platforms nor the hotels industry, that are funding the opposite side, have your best interest in mind. All they see is dollar signs, hence why all the propaganda, and the sudden change within the city’s position. They are all fighting for profit and we need to advocate for our community, because no one else will. And let’s please ask both parties to stop flooding our mailboxes with flyers. That alone could have paid for all the teachers that were laid off, but that is another subject for another day.

– Diana Vasquez
Jersey City Resident
Licensed Real Estate Broker-Salesperson
dv-realestate.com

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32 COMMENTS

  1. While this writer tries to paint a picture of the “poor old timers what are we going to do”, what they fail to address is the devastating impact voting NO would have I these same old timers. It would open the floodgates for out of towners to move in and scoop up all available housing to turn them into mini hotels. That will not only hack up prices but rents. These investors will have no care for the city or neighborhood since they just want to make their profits. They will have nightly turnover of who knows who coming and going with limited vetting.

    Voting YES puts regulation on this practice. Anyone living at the residence will still be able to use airbnb but people just buying up properties to turn them into hotels will have to do in 60 day increments.

    Voting YES is a must if you want to protect JC, specially the “old timers”. Don’t be fooled by the Airbnb propaganda! Airbnb couldn’t care less about JC…their goal is to use JC as an example for takeover of other cities with a NO vote

  2. And enough of the 6th borough nonsense. We’re NJ not NYC. NYC has 5 boroughs…Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island. There never has been and never will be a Jersey City in the mix…because we’re not in New York!!

    • I will be voting NO, NO, NO!
      This is rich people trying to make the neighborhood they want.
      First give all the tax breaks to the luxury condo and rental developers to pass along to their clients.
      Revalue the property so that the impoverished and less affluent areas have to pay more tax.
      Never make any commitment to affordable housing.
      Drive mom and pop business out with special taxes on Westside Ave and minimum wage increase.
      Now blame everything wrong with the less affluent areas on AirBnB, GTFOH with that BS.
      This is just the Paulis Hook and Hamilton Park crowds trying to make their property values go up, without care that working people in the Heights and on the Westside derive income by providing service to AirBnBers, most of which I see are families from Europe trying to enjoy a vacation in NY without paying $500 a night for a hotel. I don’t provide short term rentals but I also don’t want some rich guy telling me that if I fall on hard times I cant! Jersey City is a City not some quaint little town. Cities have problems, leaders find real solutions. Fulop is no leader.

    • F r e e market, we do have more than enough regulations , and tons of project housing too from our tax dollars
      Just say no if any regulations please regulate the sicker project housing made essentially to promote drug trafficking

  3. I’m skeptical that an actual resident of JC wrote this letter. It contains all the same arguments that AirBnB has advanced in support of a “no” vote. There is a lot of money at stake for AirBnB in this vote (hence the barrage of mailings), so read and consider with caution.

    For me, while regulation won’t magically cure the affordable housing problem (because of course it’s not a complete fix), it is entirely reasonable to regulate an industry that looks to convert our neighborhoods into hotels (see The Caprice near JSQ). I support the regulations and intend to vote “yes.”

  4. If all the ordinance did was prevent bad actors from offering short term rentals — illegal hotels, in rent controlled apartments, in tax abated properties with specific commitments regarding the makeup of their units — I’d be ok with it. But it bans ALL renters indiscriminately, even with approval from their landlords, from renting so much as a room in their apartments with them still living in it and its primary use still long term occupancy. 70% of the city’s residents are renters. The only impact on housing availability and cost would be the tenant’s because they would be able to *stay* in their apartments and not have to move because it was no longer affordable.

    I was on the short term rental committee, the only tenant, and only Hispanic that I was aware of, in a room where the resident participants were otherwise all white homeowners from the Heights and Downtown. We’re ~70% renters, ~25% African Americans, and ~28% Hispanic here in Jersey City, not represented on the committee. Oh, and a representative from the Hotel Trades Council, but not AirBnb. Nothing I was suggesting made it to the ordinance, so I resigned early April after participating since January, just before it made it to the City Council for a vote. Couldn’t have my name associated with it. I’m not suggesting that anyone who took part wasn’t there in anything but good conscience, but lopsided committees yield lopsided results that don’t speak to the broader needs of the community. That’s what’s happened here.

    I’m a widower and a renter and won’t be allowed to rent a room to help make ends meet. At the end of the day, if the ordinance prevents someone like me from being able to use it to lift myself up, then it needs to be re-examined. New industries that provide opportunities we can take advantage of like those of the sharing economy don’t turn up every day. Ordinances like this are a travesty because they don’t dovetail into our community as well as they need to so that good actors can benefit while not allowing the bad actors to. I’m not suggesting no regulations, or that tenants be able to offer short term rentals without their landlord’s approval, but these so-called “sensible regulations” are only sensible if you have the resources to buy your home.

    We all pay property taxes, either directly as homeowners, or indirectly as tenants in our rent. This isn’t Medieval Feudal England where landowners decide and this ordinance didn’t write itself. Vote NO so that it can’t create so many casualties and then let’s figure out how to get it right.

  5. As a resident of Jersey City and homeowner, I will be voting NO on this question. While I do agree that some regulations are needed, this is more or less a ban. I recently had a child, my parents first grandchild and they live out of town. They were hoping to buy a one bedroom and spend half the time in Jersey City and Half the time away. Obviously, renting it for short term makes sense. But under this proposition, only 60 days would be permitted. Now we have to wait to see what the result will be as this will have an impact on the decision.
    I have seem plenty of trash and noise made from people who live in NJ. Most of the foreigners are courteous and nice. How will this proposition lower housing prices?
    In my opinion, I own my property. I want to utilize that property as I SEE FIT. I am tired of the overreach that these administrations time and again demonstrate all to the peril of tax payers.

    • Fortunately You have not consummated YOUR Investment Strategy Already.
      ‘No’ is the Way to Go for those of us who are already heavily Invested/Committed.

  6. Nicely articulated articulated with the key points that are not being talked about. I will be voting NO and so will everyone I know. All the propaganda and false information coming from Fulop’s campaign has so turned me off from him and his office that I cannot wait to vote him out. The statistics are incorrect and the scared campaign they’re running is clear BS to anyone who has any experience with this and has done research. We all agree there should be no illegal hotel like properties, run in tax abatement buildings – this is completely fair and airbnb has regulations that prevent this – but ALL should not have to suffer and be limited to what they decide to do with their investment property or home.

  7. This piece is full of incongruities and just plain wrong information. For example: He states that “Our property taxes have risen 25 to 50 percent in the last two years.” That is blatantly not true for all residents. Yes, the recent re-valuation, in correcting values not adjusted since the 1980s, resulted in some residents seeing significant increases in taxes. But, living in the Heights, I have encountered far more residents that had their taxes reduced, some, like me, significantly. My taxes were reduced by 40%. Most of the writers arguments follow the same path, outright false. Contrary to his opening statement, the main issue is quality of life for all residents. AirBNB increases housing costs for all residents and removes needed housing in the markets at all levels. Studies have shown this to be an irrefutable truth. Yes, reader, be informed but, please, get all the information.

    • I would imagine that cost per square foot in Jersey City vs NYC area is a reason why people are moving to JC as well. That, and the fact that you don’t have to pay 4.5% city tax. The influx and price increase is a natural byproduct of capitalism. How will this regulation address the issue of affordability? That said, the real issue is LLC’s who own multiple properties for the sake of short term rentals. Perhaps addressing that issue before we go after small time owners is a first step. It at least deserves a conversation. As a home owner, I also don’t want to be told what I should and should not do with my property.

      • Exactly this. People who can afford $4500 a month in rent in Manhattan and BK are starting to see what that money can get them across the river and drop the city tax in the process.

        People can fight it all they want but there are larger scale economic forces at play here that will ultimately turn Paulus Hook, The Waterfront, Downtown, & Hamilton Park areas into the 6th borough.

        • So Jersey City will be NYC’s 6th borough? You think NY will agree to that or is that just desperate new jersians wanting to pretend like they’re part of NYC?

          Everyone knows JC is changing and mostly for the better. I just don’t think it’s a borough of NYC.

  8. I will be voting NO, NO, NO, and NO on this outrageous and draconian nanny State regulation. Ladies and gentlemen ( and all you people in between) here it is:

    https://www.jerseycitynj.gov/UserFiles/Servers/Server_6189660/File/Agendas,%20Mins,%20Res%20&%20Ord/2019%20Ordinances/OR2%202019%2006%2025.pdf?fbclid=IwAR2WFgt8mkG0EF1ZZd8OsysNAiFMDhkz0SaXtlsD12CBKl0dt3upbhm3SP4

    It’s basically 10 pages of legal and quasi legal regulations designed at every turn to stifle, dissuade, and prohibit private homeowners the right to do what they want with their property.

    As a long time JC resident I say Fuck this shit.

    • Not to mention Penned/Written by a Representative of the Hotel Interests, after purchasing a seat at this Committee Table for a mere $30,000 Campaign Contribution to Flip-Flop Fulop.
      Say NO, NO, NO & break the chains that bind us in this JCMakeItYours Prison !!!!!!

  9. My understanding is that short-term rentals are allowed 365 days a year with an on-site landlord. If writer Carlos Abreu is correct, the renter with permission of the landlord flaw should be addressed (after the fact at this point.)

    The person who owns the 6-unit building could solve his problem by living there, or renting the two units as standard rentals.

    The person who bought an investment property can also solve her problem by renting to a long-term tenant. It doesn’t affect her equity and if she wants the higher income from short-term rentals, she can sell both her places and buy a two family structure so she is an on-site landlord.

    There are always cases where someone gambled and regulations change. They are the exception, not the rule, and the rest of us should not have our community compromised because of it.

    • It’s a ballot measure now. If it passes, it can’t be touched for 3 years according to state law. If that wasn’t the case, I too would have opted to wait instead of all this hullabaloo to refine it.

      I want to point out that the current (2015) ordinance, if it had been enforced, that and our particularly strict noise ordinance, we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation now. When I joined the STR committee, I thought we were there to tighten those regulations to do away with bad actors, not step on the necks of good actors.

      A NO vote will a) in the short term leave the city with the ability to enforce the existing ordinances which would provide immediate relief in this regard, and then b) allow us to regroup for a fairer ordinance. Doesn’t have to be a protracted process. 30-90 days at most if we put our minds to it.

  10. the article said it in one work “investors”
    thats really the problem we dont need investors
    jersey city has become a big hotel and that is the problem
    what is required is landowners , residents not hotel owners
    and ppl can still rent out rooms in their houses so that isnt a problem at all

  11. A VICE reporter just published an amazing article about a nationwide ring of fraud on Airbnb run by hosts. The reporter actually did such a good job of research that the FBI has contacted them to investigate the fraud.

    The company could be doing a lot more to vet its hosts and listings and prevent this type of exploitation of guests. Is this really the type of company that Jersey City should hand the keys over to and allow to proliferate?

    Certainly Airbnb will say the right things like: …”this is against our policy..” and “…we value our guests”… but let’s be honest, actions speak louder than words.

    Seems like Airbnb only cares about the Jersey City vote because it will affect their valuation on their way to go public but it doesnt seem like they actually care about doing the right thing. The Airbnb PR spokespeople just parrot the company line because they need Airbnb’s valuation to stay high so they too can cash out their shares at the IPO.

    Here’s a link to the article – it’s long but a great read: “I Accidentally Uncovered a Nationwide Scam on Airbnb” https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/43k7z3/nationwide-fake-host-scam-on-airbnb

  12. I respect Steve Fulop, but I disagree on this law.
    I own a four family building and my taxes went up 10,000 last year because of a re assessment that brought it above market rate. I don’t live on it anymore but I am not a corporation either. I am responsive and responsible.
    I can’t support a city that takes the highest national real estate taxes but also wants to limit my choices and option for making money.
    My tenants will have to obey garbage and other local laws wether they are short term or long.
    Ideally I will use my ground floor as a short term and upper floors as long.
    But I will need to raise rent on long term tenants $300 a month to survive. Or ironically I’ll be forced to sell to a corporation.

    • You can’t just take your own personal situation and apply it to the whole city. It’s completely ignoring the other consequences of an unregulated Airbnb. Yes you will be able to rent your units but you will have hundreds of other deep pocketed investors competing with you. And I can’t blame them. If someone in queens or Brooklyn or another part of the country sees they can buy properties at a bargain compared to NYC and have the freedom to turn it into a mini hotel…well I can’t blame them. It’s our fault for allowing it. I think it’s pretty ignorant and selfish for anyone to vote just based on their own personal preference than for the better of the community

  13. I am in a unique position because I have been a Jersey City resident for 7 years (in the downtown) and I have also stayed at 5-10 Airbnbs downtown. This year a major plumbing issue forced us out of our rental for 6 weeks and our renter’s insurance covered us to stay in a hotel or Airbnb. We started in a hotel, but because of the length of the repair, we had to switch to Airbnbs to stay under our reimbursement limit. Hotels downtown cost $400 on weeknights (less on weekends) and occasionally had no vacancy, whereas we found some nice (and one poorly taken care of) Airbnbs for around $200 per night after taxes and fees. All of the places we rented were intended for Airbnb use only. Clearly it was nobody’s primary residence, and that was preferred, because it meant less clutter and ensured it was kept clean by a cleaning person. Some appeared to be rentals, and one or two were definitely owned by the host, who even met us in one instance. The nicer ones were owned by the host, but they never lived there. Except for one bad Airbnb in a building that was not kept clean, the host were great at communicating from afar and almost always had a cleaning person on call if we had an issue, like when the A/C broke.

    I don’t understand how any Airbnbs will remain after the regulation. In other smaller cities I’ve used Airbnb and tended to stay with older single women who owned an entire house and rented out a room. That is less likely to be the case downtown, as people only rent or own the number of bedrooms they need. If a person has an extra unit in a townhouse they live in, they might as well rent it out yearround on a lease. The regulations promote an ideal Airbnb arrangement that isn’t realistic because of the nature of the housing market downtown.

    My last point is that I think I will be harmed by having Airbnb options restricted. If my parents visit me from out of town, I barely have enough room to put up a blowup mattress for them. They have used Airbnb in the past because they aren’t rich, and it allows them to visit me without me feeling that I need to pay an exorbitant amount to rent a bigger apartment. They can’t afford $400 per night in a hotel. Because of my experience with being displaced downtown, I also know that the hotels are booked to capacity most nights, especially weeknights probably because of travelling consultants. Clearly the hotel industry does not meet the demand for the number of visitors in the area. My parents would have even fewer options for a place to stay if Airbnb regulations pass and there are not enough hotel rooms available, especially at a reasonable cost.

    My opinion is that these particular regulations are a de facto ban. I will vote NO and hope the city can introduce some revised regulations that don’t serve to drastically restrict the amount and price of visitor accommodations in this area.

  14. Thank you Ms. Diaz for giving voice to the real people, scenarios and issues created by this new ordinance. This is not about corporate AirBNB and all the money they are spending on this campaign. It’s about individual, responsible, JC residents who are making a living by earning income with AirBnB and the immediate and devastating financial impact they will face on Jan 1 if this ordinance passes.

    I bought my JC starter home in 1996 in Hamilton Park and worked with my neighbors to make it the desirable destination it is. We moved to Paulus Hook a few years ago after Hurricane Sandy flooded our home and we needed the extra space for our growing family. We became AirBnB hosts as the market was soft for long term rentals and havent looked back since. We have hosted almost 400 stays (AirBNB, Homeaway, Craigstlist, neighbor to neighbor) and have had 0 citations for noise or garbage, visit and maintain our property daily and generally get 5 star reviews. Only twice have we had to evict a problem guest.

    Earning income with AirBnB has been a safety-net for my family. Whether it was recovering from Hurricane Sandy, the Great Recession, a breast cancer diagnosis in 2016 or last year’s tax reval that tripled my taxes to $18,000, having the ability to earn with AirBnB has allowed us to be resilient.

    The new ordinance would limit my ability to earn more than 60 days/year with AirBnB –make it cost prohibitive to continue — simply because I live off-premises (albeit a 10 minute walk to Paulus Hook). And people like commentor Carlos Abreu who are renters would be completely prohibited — even though his landlady has given him permission.

    I am passionate that all responsible residents have the opportunity for the same financial safety net I have had from earning income with AirBNB. In these volatile economic times, we need MORE ways to earn — not LESS.

    Please support a smarter and fairer ordinance by going to my petition at JCSmartAirBnB.com. And vote NO on Nov 5th.

  15. Apologies — I meant to say Ms. Vasquez..
    Not Diaz.

    Also want to add that I and hosts like me are all for regulations that cull irresponsible, outside operators who setup defacto hotels that are a nuisance to neighborhoods. But the ordinance is overly broad, hurting responsible resident hosts along with the irresponsible outside operators.

    Vote NO.
    JCSmartAirBnB.com

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