Judge Slaps Miami for Attempting to Ban Airbnb-Style Short-Term Housing

A circuit court judge Wednesday evening dealt a stunning blow to Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado by prohibiting the city — at least temporarily — from banning short-term housing.

Judge Beatrice Butchko of Florida’s Eleventh Judicial Circuit issued a temporary restraining order that will also stop the city from requiring constituents to provide their names and addresses when speaking at future City Commission hearings. That decision follows comments made by Mayor Regalado and City Manager Daniel Alfonso related to Miami Airbnb hosts who spoke at a March 23 hearing.

Judge Butchko said the City of Miami was preempted by Florida law from banning short-term rentals.

"On behalf of our Miami host community, we are grateful to the court for giving this important matter immediate attention," Airbnb spokesman Ben Breit said in a written statement. "We are hopeful that it will result in relief and fair treatment for the 3,000 Miamians who responsibly share their homes on Airbnb."

Five Miami residents who are Airbnb hosts sued the city last week.

That lawsuit followed an offensive by Airbnb in which Regalado had promised action against the company to limit short-term housing. The firm responded by pointing out the mayor had received $75,000 in campaign money from the hotel industry.

“Have the nearly $75,000 in campaign contributions you’ve accepted from the national and local hotel lobby since 2013 motivated your anti-home-sharing stance?” Airnbnb asked in an open letter.

In February, Regalado proposed a measure to partially ban short-term rentals and create a compliance system. But he pulled it from agendas twice.

Though the county reached a tax deal with Airbnb, the mayor sent a letter saying the city would opt out of that deal. "It is my wish that... the City of Miami... be excluded from participation,” Regalado wrote.
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Chuck Strouse is the former editor in chief of Miami New Times. He has shared two Pulitzer Prizes and won dozens of other awards. He is an honors graduate of Brown University and has worked at newspapers including the Miami Herald and Los Angeles Times.
Contact: Chuck Strouse

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