In the midst of a statewide bus tour, Florida gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine, the former big-city mayor whose Miami Beach government went hard after Airbnb owners, made a stop Wednesday morning in Jacksonville — at an Airbnb property.
Levine’s campaign was hosted by Tiffany Parisi, an adjunct humanities professor who owns a 1910-era home in the city’s Riverside neighborhood with her husband, who is an active member of the Navy stationed out of Jacksonville. The couple split their time between the city and Jensen Beach, and occasionally rent out a converted garage on the property on Airbnb, according to Parisi.
So, Levine didn’t actually host his campaign event from an Airbnb living room, which would have been highly ironic. But asked Wednesday about a Jax.com reporter’s tweet that he’d stopped at an Airbnb property, Levine seemed unaware.
“Maybe that’s what Airbnb wants you to think,” Levine said as his bus headed from Jacksonville to Tallahassee.
Parisi, who said she agreed to host Levine’s “Live! From Florida’s Living Rooms” tour after the two had a phone conversation about 10 days ago, said she didn’t speak with the former Miami Beach mayor about her use of the home-sharing platform. But she said she’s a fan of most his policies, and finds his positions on the environment and minimum wage more pressing for the state.
“I would love to have the opportunity to speak with him in the future [about Airbnb] but for right now I’m focusing on the bigger issues,” said Parisi, who was not amused that her use of Airbnb was published on Twitter.
On his bus tour, Levine has raised the possibility of levying a fine on Airbnb transactions to help fund affordable housing. He’s accused the home-sharing business in the past of exacerbating the state’s housing problems by hiking the cost of living and decreasing real estate values.
But he’s also said that his opposition to Airbnb in Miami Beach shouldn’t be construed as opposition to the company in all neighborhoods, something his political consultant, Christian Ulvert, repeated Wednesday in an interview.
“As mayor of Miami Beach, he didn’t believe Airbnb was a good model for that city. But he also said it’s all about local control and letting local communities decide what’s best for their areas,” Ulvert said. “This issue is a clear example of how local control should work.”