The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Short-term rentals offer long-term benefits to the D.C. economy

D.C. Council member Kenyan R. McDuffie (D-Ward 5) in Washington in May 2017. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

The restrictions promoted in the Sept. 9 Local Opinions essay “D.C. should learn from Arlington on short-term rentals” would be a major blow to D.C. residents and the D.C. economy.  

Writers Dusty Horwitt and Pamela J. Lee misleadingly used a specific grievance in an Arlington condo complex to argue for restrictions on short-term rentals in a different jurisdiction. These restrictions, proposed in a bill by D.C. Council member Kenyan R. McDuffie (D-Ward 5) and backed by hotel corporations, would limit hosts to renting out primary residences for a maximum of 15 days while they are not home. The proposals to limit short-term rental platforms such as Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO would undoubtedly damage D.C.’s economy. Last year alone, short-term rentals generated more than $209 million in economic activity in the District. And because the 14.5 percent hotel tax also applies to short-term rentals, tax revenue on these rentals was almost $30 million in 2017. More short-term rentals will create significant economic benefits for District residents and bring tourism dollars to all eight wards. For some local citizens, the additional income is essential to pay their bills and remain in their homes.

Instead of promoting a bill pushed by out-of-state hotels, the District should bring community stakeholders together to find common-sense, transparent rules that allow short-term rentals and neighborhoods to thrive. Applying a one-size-fits-all model of regulation from a nearby suburb is not the solution.

Gary Shapiro, Arlington

The writer is president and chief executive officer
of the Consumer Technology Association.