GR residents weigh in on airbnb regulations

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — City residents Thursday voiced their opinions on regulations being considered for an online travel accommodation site that is gaining popularity in Grand Rapids.

Airbnb.com is a website that allows travelers to find homeowners offering a short stay in rooms for rent. But it technically violates Grand Rapids zoning law because people offering rooms are doing so without a necessary city permit that costs about $2,000.

The Grand Rapids City Planning Commission is debating whether and how airbnb should be regulated in the city. Among rules it proposed is one restricting the number of rooms that can be rented and the number of people who can stay at a time. The city also wants to limit the number of homes offering accommodations.

Jenny Lasko offers rooms through airbnb. She said she wants to help tourism in the city and thinks regulation could prevent that.

“In 72 hours, over 1,000 citizens signed petitions last fall in support of home sharing. Grand Rapids was voted No. 1 travel destination for 2012. We need policy that supports rather than deters tourism,” Lasko said at a Thursday public hearing about the issue.

But some city residents say airbnb needs to be regulated.

“I just want to point out here that this is not about sharing and hosting. This is about making money and selling. And I just feel very strongly that what’s being sold here is my neighborhood,” one Heritage Hill resident said.

Another public hearing about airbnb regulations is set for Aug. 12.

The City Commission will have a final say about what, if any, regulations should be put in place.

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