Residents of Jersey City, New Jersey, voted overwhelmingly in favor of strict short-term rental regulations on Tuesday, putting an end to the high-profile feud between Airbnb and local officials that had engulfed the city in recent months.
The move comes as a major blow to Airbnb, which spent more than $4.2 million blanketing Jersey City in television ads, handouts, and pro-Airbnb canvassers in a campaign to quash the restrictions, which will affect a popular destination for guests looking to visit Manhattan (which is just across the Hudson River and several minutes away on public transit) without running afoul of New York's tight rules on short-term rentals.
The new rules crack down on Jersey City’s booming short-term rental industry—which has grown by an order of magnitude since city officials effectively legalized the practice in 2015—by requiring that owners obtain permits and limiting who can rent out their spaces and for how long.
Despite an aggressive opposition campaign, voters approved the regulations in a landslide, with current estimates suggesting nearly 70% voted in favor of the measure.
And with Airbnb looking to do an IPO in 2020—a process that involves airing out its dirty laundry for investors—every bit of regulatory backlash counts.
The company has sued cities such as Boston, Miami Beach, Santa Monica, and even its hometown of San Francisco over ordinances beefing up short-term rental regulations, and it has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars hiring signature gatherers to help overturn local restrictions on both coasts.