Chicago passes anti-Airbnb law despite plea from Ashton Kutcher

By Shawn Price  |  June 23, 2016 at 5:08 AM
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CHICAGO, June 23 (UPI) -- The Chicago City Council on Wednesday easily passed a new law limiting home rentals, dealing another blow to online renter Airbnb.

Earlier in the day, actor and Airbnb investor Ashton Kutcher gave a passionate defense on Facebook of Airbnb in Chicago, but with the support of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the City Council passed the bill 43-7. Some aldermen were concerned the law would not do enough to protect residents from the rapid growth of the business in the city's residential neighborhoods.

Alderman Michele Smith argued for tougher rules to prevent the transformation of condos in upscale neighborhoods into hotels for partying visitors,

"This is about the new economy, and Chicago is racing to catch up with a runaway short-term rental train in our city," Smith said.

Kutcher defended his investment as "changing the way we see the world. Instead of being forced to stay in a downtown Chicago hotel, people from all around the world can check out the vibrant neighborhoods on the North, South and West Sides of Chicago. They can now have the option to stay in the areas they want to explore and experience," Kutcher wrote in a post that has since been deleted.

"Not only is Airbnb connecting extraordinary people to an authentic cultural experience, they are also driving revenue in neighborhoods across Chicago. In fact, last year Chicagoans earned more than $34 million by sharing their space through Airbnb," he wrote.

The new law set various limits and ways to subvert them for different types of residences in neighborhoods around the city. The New York Senate passed new rules on Airbnb last week, despite New York being the company's biggest market, with about half of the Airbnb's business generated there.

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