Records show how Cantrell administration officials walked back Airbnb enforcement plans over the past year
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Records show how Cantrell administration officials walked back Airbnb enforcement plans over the past year

Michael Isaac Stein |
October 31, 2019

All four of the short-term rentals on Ada Phleger’s block in the St. Claude neighborhood either have an expired permit or have had their permit revoked by the city’s Department of Safety and Permits.


All four of the short-term rentals on Ada Phleger’s block in the St. Claude neighborhood either have an expired permit or have had their permit revoked by the city’s Department of Safety and Permits. But all four are still advertised on Airbnb or HomeAway and, according to Phleger, are still rented to tourists on a constant basis.

“It makes me feel a little crazy,” Phleger told The Lens. “I keep thinking the rules are going to mean something at some point and they really don’t.”

Residents like Phleger are hoping that the city can put years of lax enforcement behind it on Dec. 1, when new, stricter rules on short-term rentals go into effect. But documents obtained by The Lens show that over the past year, Mayor Latoya Cantrell’s administration became increasingly concerned that the new rules, if enforced, would be a big hit to the city’s budget as rentals are taken off the market. At one point, Cantrell’s director of policy wrote a memo on what would happen if she decided to veto the regulations, though she ultimately approved them.   

From January to August, city officials went from suggesting as many as 16 new employees to bolster enforcement to as few as three, records obtained by The Lens show. At the same time, administration officials also appeared nervous about how they would justify the use of $6.2 million in funds dedicated to short-term rental enforcement.  

Last June, The Lens wrote about Phleger’s fight to get the city to expel the short-term rentals from her block. All four we’re being operated by a Massachusetts-based company called Heirloom. One of the four homes was being rented for $1,710 on average per night. 

Phleger, an attorney with the Federal Public Defender’s office, found evidence that one of the rentals may have been granted a permit improperly. The permit was issued for a half-double, and the owner was supposed to live in the other half. But Phleger found out it was converted to a single-family home, and it didn’t seem that anyone was living in it full-time. 

Credit by - The LENS

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