Kenosha City Council in Paul Ryan’s District Nearly Killed Airbnb/Home-sharing Last Night

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Our offices are in downtown Kenosha. We’re a few minute’s walk from Paul Ryan’s office as well as city council. I can tell you for a fact there are a ton of hard pressing issues those of us who live and work here face. Wisconsin’s “open for business” catchphrase is nonsense, in our view.

Wisconsin’s state taxes (both on personal income and business) are absurdly high. The level of regulation here is completely out of control. And here in Kenosha we have a massively expensive, ridiculous trolley system that nobody uses and the parking is a constant battle for those of us who work here for a full day.

And just a week or two ago a tax assessor paid us a visit to inform us we had to pay property taxes on, get this, anything that remains in our office overnight. Web cameras, boxes of t-shirts, furniture, wall art… all of it.

Was any of that on the agenda at the Kenosha City Council meeting last night? Nope. The Council instead spent the better part of the evening debating whether to kill off home-sharing in city limits.

Now the liberal hacks at Kenosha News (who openly support this idiocy) and the council members who supported the regulations will claim this wouldn’t hurt sites like Airbnb, Homeaway and those who use the services, but that’s nonsense.

Here’s why.

The proposed regulation is a money grab disguised as an effort to provide safety. And worse, the council debated regulation language that would require home owners who use such services to submit all private personal contact information for each person sharing their home, even if only a room and for a single night.

Look, I’ve used Airbnb and found the experience to be quite pleasant. it was all very straightforward and I felt I was getting a great place to stay while helping compensate the homeowner for the costs involved in owning/managing a home. I can guarantee you that if I knew all of my information would be handed over to city government bureaucrats before my stay I wouldn’t dare consider it.

Not because I have anything to hide but because that’s none of their damn business.

And if these government looters think others wouldn’t feel the same they’re delusional. It absolutely would damage if not kill the small range of home-sharing opportunities available in the Kenosha area.

So let’s get to the core of their argument as to why this stupidity is necessary. Council Member Jan Michalski said “I have gotten a number of complaints from some constituents about certain houses being rented out short term, Airbnb, and then they’re basically used for frat parties, creating a problem for the neighborhood,” when asked to comment on the matter.

First of all, this does probably happen. But let’s not pretend it’s a large percentage of home-sharing rentals that experience this. It isn’t. It’s tiny fraction, in fact. Second, this argument is basically claiming security concerns as the core foundation of the need for regulating home-sharing.

If that is the case, why does the regulation do virtually nothing to stop an occasional “frat party” but include a license fee (tax) on the person who owns the home?

Let me get this straight. The Kenosha City Council is concerned about an occasional party at a home rented through Airbnb, so their solution is to regulate home-sharing by charging the homeowner a tax and forcing them to register with the city?

That, my friends, is nothing more than a money grab disguised as being “for the children.”

Fortunately logic prevailed last night and the proposal was defeated by an 11-5 vote. It was sponsored by Alds. Jan Michalski, Curt Wilson and Patrick Juliana and supported by Alds. Anthony Kennedy and Scott Gordon.

Good thing it died, but the question is… why the hell was this even on the agenda? Why did they waste an hour of city time arguing over this?

Residents of Kenosha and all other cities need to keep an eye on these people “representing” us. Because we fear this kind of crap is not going away any time soon.

Eric Odom

Managing Director of Internet marketing nerd, political junkie and news addict. Skeptical of government. Bears, Cubs, Bulls & Blackhawks fan.