Stating in her motion that “we owe it to our residents to take control of these unacceptable situations and hold the property owners accountable,” Ward 1 Councilor Joanna McKenna called for the City Council to request Mayor Brian Arrigo to enforce the short-term rental ordinance that was approved on Sept. 1.
McKenna said in the last two months she received “two major complaints” about incidents at short-term rental properties.
“It’s not fair that these long-standing Revere residents have to live next to these Airbnbs, especially if it’s an absentee landlord owner,” said McKenna.
The councilor told her colleagues that there was recently an incident on Summer Street, “which is a thickly settled residential area where they had a gigantic number of 20-year-olds that had a gigantic party.”
“It wasn’t safe. No one was wearing masks. The police had to be called and an ambulance had to take a kid away,” said McKenna.
She said she wants to hold the absentee landlords accountable. “The city has to step up and do some processing of [these incidents,” said McKenna. “Right now we have an office – it’s an Airbnb office – but it’s not staffed.”
McKenna did not elaborate on where the actual office is located or which city department oversees the office.
“We have an ordinance that’s been on the books since September and nothing’s being done so far,” said McKenna, adding that there are 250 Airbnbs in the city, mostly located in Beachmont, an area she represents on the Council.
Ward 3 Councilor Arthur Guinasso pointed out that in the short-term rental ordinance it states that the properties must be “owner-occupied.”
“If that’s not being enforced, then what good is us going and creating legislation that would be beneficial to our community, if we don’t enforce it,” said Guinasso. “I agree 1,000 percent with Councilor McKenna. We should be paying attention to this and we’re not.”
Guinasso suggested the possibility of hiring personnel to enforce the city’s ordinances and issue fines, “or we look like a bunch of buffoons. We’re sitting up here creating ordinances and no one’s paying attention. But more importantly no one’s enforcing it. You hit them in the pocketbook, they listen.”
Ward 4 Councilor Patrick Keefe said, “These are the quality-of-life ordinances that we put through for our residents. Because that’s who we take care of first.”
Keefe said the city “is not protecting our “robust amount of hotels [because] we are not enforcing the short-term rental ordinance.”
He would like to see the Council’s priorities become the city’s priorities and vice versa. “It needs to work hand and hand, so I guess I’m banging on the Mayor and his team to work on a solution to resolve this. Maybe there’s one inspector who does a little bit of everything – the inspector checks on overnight parking, issues with housing, unlawful Airbnbs. We can multi-task.”
Councilor-at-Large George Rotondo said he “applauds and supports” McKenna’s motion.
The City Council unanimously approved McKenna’s motion.