Kansas City Gets “F” Grade for Rental Regulations
Recently, a national policy research group graded 59 cities for their regulations on “short-term rental services,” which:
“…allow individuals to rent a home, apartment or even just a single bedroom for short-duration stays, usually just a few days at a time, using Web-based platforms that advertise to travelers.”
The most prominent example of this type of company is Airbnb. Much like ridesharing, short-term rental services are a prominent example of the “sharing economy,” where technology allows individuals (and not just well capitalized businesses) to make money renting out the things they already own. A major problem with the expansion of the sharing economy is local regulations, which straight-jacket industries into forms city officials and existing businesses are used to, and benefit from. The good news is that most of the cities the recent survey looked at, likely seeing an opportunity to encourage new business and attract more visitors, are making reforms to allow short-term rental services to operate easily.
But not Kansas City. The city of fountains got an “F” for its regulations, because, as the report states:
“Kansas City has a tightly regulated short-term rental market that benefits special interests at consumers' expense. Both hosted and non-hosted stays are permissible only in commercial districts, such as a boarding house. No additional deductions are made for the city's legal framework, taxation, enforcement or licensing.”
The fact that Kansas City has made so little effort to reform its short-term rental regulations directly contradicts messaging from city officials about how they are all about attracting business and “millennials.” If creating growth and attracting young people is anything more than a rhetorical prop, city policy will have to actually create a welcoming environment for new types of services, services millennials demonstrably like to use. Right now, it appears that city hall thinks handing out tax breaks to large companies is enough to qualify as business-friendly, and building a streetcar is the essence of cool.