Jersey City public safety officials joined Mayor Steven Fulop in backing a “yes” vote for the upcoming Airbnb referendum, citing the need for regulations to keep neighborhoods safe.
“Jersey City won’t be manipulated by Airbnb’s money. They can send mailers every single day. They can spread lies and misinformation. We know our neighbors,” Fulop said at a press conference at the firehouse located on 2 Bergen Ave.
“We’ll be out there making sure that our neighbors understand that we are for common sense and fair regulations to protect neighborhoods.”
The mayor was by residents in favor of the regulations, which include making sure only property owners are able to utilize short-term rentals, as well as union leaders from the local police and fire departments.
“Without regulations, Airbnb rentals can create an attractive nuisance for criminals who attempt to secret their crimes. Our officers also often respond to excessive noise complaints from late night parties hosted by short-term renters with no responsibility to the local neighborhood,” Jersey City Police Superior Officers Association Robert Kearns said in a statement.
“We have significant concerns specifically for Airbnb use in multiple dwellings,” added Uniformed Fire Fighters Association of Jersey City President Joseph Krajnik.
“In a fire, every second counts, and having knowledgeable neighbors who know how many occupants live in a residence, and if someone is trapped or in need of rescuing greatly helps with our mission in saving lives.”
As HCV previously reported, the Airbnb referendum has quickly turned into a high stakes money spending competition, with both sides up on TV and the pro-Airbnb Keep Our Homes campaign sending mail on the subject almost daily.
During the question and answer session with the media, we asked if there were any sort of data points officials could share regarding what dangers and/or safety hazards the 2,651 Airbnb listing in Jersey City pose.
“The problems that I see in court are not the single Airbnb you see in an apartment. It’s the fake hotels. We literally, to my surprise, when I took this job in July 2018, there are apartment buildings that have been purchased by outside companies in New York, and out of state, and they are running hotels through Airbnb,” responded Chief Municipal Prosecutor Jake Hudnut.
“Those are the problem people. Those are who we are looking to regulate … we have buildings in our streets that are a hotel in every single way except proper fire code, safety code and regulation.”
Predictably, Keep Our Homes spokesman Graeme Zielinski was not impressed, accusing Fulop of using city resources to further “scare tactics” to “advance a political agenda.”
“It’s a complete ban for renters and many types of homeowners … the mayor wants to call the ban ‘sensible regulations.’ Sensible regulations are just a proxy for a ban,” he also said, noting that regulations have been on the books for short-term rentals since 2015.
The full presser streamed live on our Facebook page and can be viewed below: