Jersey City says ‘illegal Airbnb hotel’ could lose tax break as hosts call for more decorum

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The City of Jersey City’s Division of Taxation has put the developer of a tax abated property on notice for operating as an “illegal Airbnb hotel” instead of a market-rate residential rental complex in light of the pro-Airbnb campaign calling for more decorum in the race.

The Caprice. Photo via Google Maps.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

Chosen Condominiums Urban Renewal, LLC is being cited for operating the tax abated property located at 3075 John F. Kennedy Boulevard as the “Caprice Hotel,” instead of the market-rate, 83-unit residential rental complex they promised the city it would build in 2013, the letter says.

This is the third default declared on a tax abated property this year, and the first from the developer operating an illegal hotel, according to the mayor’s office.

“Had Chosen been honest with the City Council, the tax abatement would have been structured differently, and the neighbors in the area would have been made aware of the 83 strangers moving in and out daily right next door, impacting the entire neighborhood’s quality of life and safety,” Ernest Borja, of the city’s Office of Tax Exemption, wrote yesterday.

“This is just another example why Airbnb needs regulations and why we need a YES vote in November.”

Additionally, Chosen Condominiums allegedly failed to submit auditors’ reports, along with their total project cost audit and any ownership disclosure statements, all in violation of their tax abatement agreement.

“As Airbnb spends millions to purposefully spread flat-out lies, we’ve been working to correct their wrong and truly inform voters about the proposed commonsense regulations,” Ward B Councilwoman Mira Prinz-Arey, one of the co-sponsors of the short-term rental legislation that passed in June, said in a statement.

“My goal at this point is to make sure residents really understand the billion dollar companies with no local loyalty they’re deciding on. The City Council and I have one goal: to protect residents. A YES vote will do just that. Plain and simple,” added Mayor Steven Fulop.

The news comes in light of a letter being sent to Fulop yesterday from six short-term rental hosts claiming they know hosts who oppose the referendum who have “become the victims of harassment and intimidation by certain individuals who support your ban.”

“This has included, but is not limited to, physical intimidation and incidents of possible criminal trespass and criminal damage of property that were reported to Jersey City Police. The intended effect of these actions, we believe, is to deter residents on our side from openly participating in the democratic process in Jersey City.”

The authors of the letter, Jhyda Pura-Quilla, Brandon Keevan, Christian Gallivan, Jeff Hauta, Murat Ozsu, Nathan Taylor, also note that they don’t believe the individuals participating in unethical and/or illegal activity are coordinating with the mayor.

“We know we come from different sides of the issue but are sure that we all want an election that is fair and free of intimidation — and a Jersey City that looks out for the well-being of all its residents,” the short-term rental hosts wrote.

City spokeswoman Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione stated that the pro-Airbnb group would not be spreading “fake news” about the ballot question if civility was a high priority.

“If this $35 billion corporation was actually concerned about civility, they wouldn’t be purposely inflaming tensions in our city by distributing fake news about the ballot question,” she exclaimed.

“Airbnb is spending millions of dollars on lies and fear tactics to get Jersey City residents to vote against their own economic interests. This letter just shows they are desperate because despite all the money they’re spending, their tactics aren’t working.

As HCV previously reported, the November 5th referendum question will allow voters to decide if they support new regulations such as not allowing renters to operate short-term rentals and the race has become quite expensive and that doesn’t look like it will change.

According to an October 16th report filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, Airbnb has given approximately $3.3 million to the Keep Our Homes political action committee – which has spent nearly $1.1 million.

Meanwhile, the opposing PAC, the Share Better Education Fund, has spent $500,000 to date, based on an October 11th filing.

Furthermore, Politico reported this morning that another PAC pushing for the referendum to pass has spent $400,000.

2 COMMENTS

  1. One thing that Airbnb is consistently brilliant at it getting small “mom and pop” style hosts to fight tooth and nail on their behalf when in truth the industry is dominated by big players with multiple listings who seriously hurt those small hosts. Entire YouTube channels are dedicated to making 6 figure incomes on the site and running dozens of listings in cities around the world. We even have rental arbitrage going on where you convince landlords to rent you apartments for a bigger return than a long term tenant. You need to get Linda Rosenthal from New York in on the discussion. She has been saying for years what a train wreck this company is for the long term rental market and how it drives up prices and drives down the quality of life for everyone. I believe that New York is spending something like 12 million dollars of taxpayer money per year to fight the practice. Try living next to an Airbnb party house owned by an investor and you will see first hand what I am talking about! Or go on Airbnb hell to read what is really going on with this company.
    Stay strong New Jersey and don’t back down! Airbnb is nasty!

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