In another sign of how highly politicized the battle around short-term rentals has become in South Florida, dueling polls released this week paint opposing pictures about local opinion regarding the controversial rentals.
The polls, one from Airbnb and one from hotel industry lobbyist Armando Ibarra, were released to correspond with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, when more than 250 mayors from around the country will gather in Miami Beach for the 85th annual meeting.
When the conference kicks off Friday, mayors will be arriving at one of the biggest Airbnb battlegrounds in the country.
In March 2016, Miami Beach started fining residents $20,000 for each offense if they were found to be renting their properties short-term in areas not zoned for that use. Short-term rentals are illegal in single-family homes in Miami Beach, and only allowed in some condo buildings.
Across Biscayne Bay in Miami, the city has been fighting its own battle against short-term rentals — and by extension Airbnb, the largest and most popular platform for short-term renting. That fight culminated in a hearing in March where city officials threatened to go after Airbnb hosts who spoke up in favor of the platform. Airbnb sued the city, and a judge ruled in favor of the platform, barring Miami from going after hosts who spoke up.
Still, Miami city commissioners voted in favor of a resolution that would make short-term rentals illegal in nearly the entire city.
But, how residents feel about short-term rentals, Airbnb and regulation of the activity depends on how you’re asking the question.
63% Of voters polled in a poll conducted by Airbnb said they supported allowing Miami-Dade residents to rent their homes on Airbnb
According to Airbnb’s poll, conducted over the phone by Frederick’s polls, 63 percent of the 1,000 local voters polled said they supported allowing Miami-Dade residents to rent their homes on Airbnb. About 20 percent oppose the activity.
In Ibarra’s poll, which was conducted over the phone at his own expense, he said, 49 percent of 2,933 Miami-Dade voters polled did not believe their neighbors should be allowed to rent their properties short-term. About 30 percent said their neighbors should be permitted to rent on short-term rental platforms. Ibarra, who conducts monthly polls on various issues for public strategy firm Ai Advisory, is a registered lobbyist representing the Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association in the Florida Legislature.
The wording highlights the key issue at the center of the short-term rental debate: Homeowners tend to like the idea of renting their homes for extra cash, according to the Airbnb poll, but when it’s their neighbor renting out, they worry about an influx of strangers and noise, and favor regulation, according to the Ai poll.
49% Of voters polled in a poll conducted by hotel industry lobbyist Armando Ibarra said they did not believe their neighbors should be allowed to rent their properties short-term
Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine has illustrated that point multiple times, saying at a press conference in March: “Let me say right off the bat that I love Airbnb. Love, love, love, love. Airbnb is an extraordinary company — I think it’s fantastic, but I just don’t love Airbnb on Miami Beach.”
Airbnb’s poll, conducted from May 30 to June 8, delves into the two major stand-offs with the site locally. On Miami Beach’s fines, 48 percent of respondents oppose them, while 33 percent are in support. In Miami, 60 percent of respondents oppose the city targeting hosts who spoke at the March hearing and 14 percent support the city’s position, according to the Airbnb poll.
Still, according to Ai’s survey, which polled local voters from May 15 to 16, 44 percent of respondents believe local governments should provide oversight or regulate short-term rentals, compared to 29 percent of the voters sampled who opposed regulation.
Both sides of the debate have been increasing their efforts to sway public opinion. Airbnb has invested $1 million in a PAC in Florida. The American Hotel and Lodging Association has developed a national campaign against Airbnb, largely focused on passing anti-Airbnb legislation in cities listed as “critical.” Miami is one of the five cities listed.