Last week, a Parisian politician made headlines by proposing a plan that would kick Airbnb out of the city center. This week, at a conference in Cape Town, an Airbnb executive fought back.
Ian Brossat, a Paris city council member, proposed banning Airbnb from the center of Paris in order to keep it from becoming “a playground for Saudi or American billionaires” in an interview last week. But Airbnb argued that their service is so popular among Parisians, banning it would be a bad political move.
“I know from surveys and polling that we are exceptionally popular in France at large and in Paris,” Chris Lehane, head of policy at Airbnb, told Agence France Presse (AFP) this week. “Taking on an issue where 20 percent of the people support you and 80 percent oppose you is not a winning political hand.”
Brossat responded to Lehane’s comments by saying, “all we ask is for the company to respect French law.”
“Why does Airbnb refuse to enforce the law that obliges the platform to remove illegal advertisements? Why does Airbnb pay as much tax in France as a neighbourhood bakery?” the city council member asked AFP.
Paris is one of Airbnb’s largest markets, with more than 60,000 homes available for rent.
Many European cities have fought against Airbnb this year. A tenants’ union in Florence said vacation rentals are driving Florentines out of the city center by the hundreds. Earlier this year, Madrid basically banned all homeshares from the historic center of the city.