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City Effort To Ease Airbnb Regulations Moves Forward

By Heather Cherone | February 15, 2017 3:09pm | Updated on February 16, 2017 8:07am
 An Airbnb in Wicker Park
An Airbnb in Wicker Park
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

CHICAGO — Chicagoans who rent out their homes and apartments via home-sharing services like Airbnb would no longer have to turn over the names of their guests to city officials under a measure endorsed Wednesday by a City Council committee.

In June, the Council imposed new regulations on homeowners who use home-sharing platforms like Airbnb that would levy an extra tax on hosts, limit the number of units in buildings that can be rented out and require hosts to keep records on guests.

The revenue from the 4 percent tax is expected to generate $2.5 million to $3 million that is earmarked to fight homelessness in Chicago. Originally set to take effect Feb. 1, it was delayed until Feb. 28 because of the legal wrangling.

The ordinance faces two legal challenges — one in state court filed by the Chicago-based Liberty Justice Center and another filed in federal court by Keep Chicago Livable, a group of homeowners who oppose the new rules.

RELATED: Here Are The Buildings Where Airbnb Is Banned In Chicago

Originally, the ordinance would have required Airbnb hosts to turn over their guests' names and addresses to any city official who demanded the information. However, the city would need a court order to get that information under the revised measure approved Wednesday by the City Council Committee on License and Consumer Protection.

Alds. Marty Quinn (13th), Michele Smith (43rd) and Matt O'Shea (19th) voted against the change.

Smith said the Council should take no action that weakens the city's ordinance, which was the subject of fierce debate.

Smith has called Airbnb "the newest scheme for realnestate investors" who are buying up properties in Lincoln Park, which she represents, to serve as commercial rentals.

Some Gold Coast  residents have complained of people renting homes to party.

Shorge Sato, an attorney for Keep Chicago Livable which formed to sue the city, said the ordinance still contains unconstitutional provisions.

"This lawsuit is far from over," Sato said.

Airbnb spokesman Benjamin Breit said the company is committed "to serving as a good partner to the City of Chicago, and we will be ready to move forward with our obligations under the ordinance once it goes fully into effect."