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Voters overwhelmingly supported restrictions imposed on short-term rental operations by a two to one margin on Nov. 5
A referendum was put to the voters in an attempt to overturn new rules for short-term rental operations in Jersey City. But voters decided to support local officials and reject an attempt by Airbnb and large property owners that would have maintained the business.
This is seen as a major victory for Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop in a conflict that brought in more than $5 million dollars in contributions from political action committees on both sides of the issue.
The vote also got national attention because it was setting rules for one of the largest cities in New Jersey as to how short term rental platforms such as Airbnb can operate, and this could serve as model for other cities.
This was a sweet victory for Fulop who seemed more nervous about the vote count than he was as an expecting father, because the massive influx of cash into the conflict challenged his political organization and put at risk his possible reelection in 2021.
According to Fulop, this was a test of home rule versus corporate intrusion into the local community
The election seemed to be going Fulop’s during election day when the number of voters as of 3 p.m. — 5 hours before the polls close — indicated a turn out closer to the 2017 mayoral election than the lower turnout for the off-year election in 2018.
The conflict has drawn international attention and media outlets from around the world have been focused on this fight which could determine how other towns deal with their short-term rentals. Currently Boston and Washington DC are considering imposing similar rules.
Thanks to the backing of a number of local unions, including those representing teachers in Jersey City, numbers of workers against Airbnb seemed to vastly outnumber those in support.
Fulop called it a huge victory.
“This is the first time a city in this country beat Airbnb,” Fulop said. “They put a lot of people on the payroll to beat this thing. I’m proud of the people of Jersey City that decided to do what was decent. We won with more than 70 percent of the vote, more than even we anticipated.”
Fulop said the regulations will go into effect immediately.
“If I was an Airbnb investor, I would be concerned,” Fulop said. “This is a very diverse city and our residents said they supported the regulations.”
Politically, Fulop admitted he put himself out on this campaign.
“I went all in and put all my chips on the table for this one and I’m delighted at the outcome,” he said.
In a statement, Christopher Nulty, spokesperson for Airbnb, said, “From the start of this campaign, we knew this was going to be one of the toughest fights we’ve faced, with the big New York hotel industry determined to fight home sharing, but we had an obligation to stand up for our community. Cities from Buffalo to San Francisco, and Boston to Seattle have managed to pass comprehensive short-term rental regulations without punishing tenants or creating red tape and onerous registration systems. It’s unfortunate to see the hotel-backed special interests run a campaign that moves Jersey City in a different direction. There are Airbnb listings in over 100,000 cities around the world and we will continue to do all we can to support hosts.”