Detroit city officials reversed course quickly on a partial Airbnb rental ban.
Image: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images
That was fast.
Airbnb rentals in Detroit were banned this week in certain neighborhoods after changes to the city’s zoning ordinance went into effect.
But once hosts flagged city officials and Airbnb about cease and desist notices, it turned out no one — not even the mayor — knew that the partial ban was in place.
By Friday, the city had assured it wasn’t actually going after hosts renting out rooms on Airbnb.
UPDATE: #Detroit‘s Buildings, Safety Engineering & Environmental Department (BSEED) “will not be ticketing homeowners for renting out rooms in their own residence, whether through Airbnb or otherwise” pending a review of zoning code ban on some Airbnb rentals by city law dept. pic.twitter.com/KtZsJfYblQ
— Chad Livengood (@ChadLivengood) February 9, 2018
Members of the city council finally spoke up about the Airbnb confusion and said they hadn’t intended to limit short-term rentals in the city. In a statement, city council president pro tempore Mary Sheffield said, “My colleagues and I will be re-examining the zoning law changes to ensure there aren’t any unintended and inequitable consequences negatively impacting Detroiter’s ability to derive an income from their property.”
Council President Pro Tem @MsMarySheffield on Airbnb controversy: “There was never any intention on behalf of my colleagues or myself to limit Detroiters’ ability to use their homes or property to supplement their income.” pic.twitter.com/cZ5h7M1I7j
— Katrease Stafford (@kat__stafford) February 9, 2018
An inconspicuous line about home occupation prohibitions in certain zones in a 216-page packet of amended zoning rules had spiraled into the Airbnb ban.
Airbnb was relieved that the ban was short-lived. In a statement Friday the company said, “We applaud the city for doing the right thing and protecting every day people who are sharing their homes to pay the bills. Airbnb has partnered with hundreds of cities to develop commonsense home sharing regulations, and we look forward to collaborating with Detroit leaders moving forward.”
But people weren’t as amused with the city overlooking city code that was voted on and approved without much, if any, scrutiny.
Detroit BSEED, there are so many better ways to spend your time smh:
Anonymous building inspector for the city: “The enforcement arm of our department spent some time on AirBnB, locating and sending cease and desist notices…starting sometime around the holiday season.” https://t.co/NOezJylIeb
— Jennifer Korail (@JennyTee) February 9, 2018
I don’t live in Detroit but shit that happens there still worry me. Banning Airbnb basically for people with homes, is some sneaky stuff man. That brought 5.7 Million dollars into the city and helped a lot of people Keep their homes. Wow
— Mrs. Prina ON AIR (@ItsOnly1Deprina) February 9, 2018
City officials got called out hard for basically not doing their jobs.