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D.C. Council’s Airbnb bill could hurt small businesses that depend on vacation rentals

(John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images)

The Sept. 18 article “Money and liability are among issues driving the D.C. Airbnb bill” overlooks the most important issue: its potential to devastate small businesses that depend on vacation rentals.

We agree that short-term rentals should operate within the law, pay taxes and respect their neighbors. But the D.C. Council needs to recognize that vacation rentals have an economic impact beyond homeowners. They generate millions of dollars in economic activity and taxes for the city. Even more, they are a powerful revenue driver for small businesses like ours.

D.C. lawmakers get an earful on proposal to strictly regulate Airbnb

Take our business for example: We own a cleaning service and almost 100 percent of our business relies on getting homes ready for visitors. We love bringing our expertise in the hospitality industry to help vacation rentals provide a top-notch guest experience, and we see firsthand how homeowners value their homes and their neighborhoods.

As the D.C. Council considers legislation, we worry about de facto bans being disguised as regulations. That should be the No. 1 issue, as it would stifle economic opportunity. If the city overregulates vacation rentals, we would go out of business. It’s important to protect the long-standing whole-home vacation rental community in town. That’s why we want the council to work with all stakeholders when crafting regulations on short-term rentals.

Jamah Robinson and Kevin Poindexter-Robinson own JRK Cleaning Services in D.C.