By Deb Murphy
In its efforts to maximize its Transient Occupancy Tax and Tourism Business Improvement District revenues, the Mammoth Lakes Town Council has run into a brick wall called Airbnb.
Town Manager Dan Holler presented a revised draft agreement with the website at Wednesday’s meeting, describing it as “not perfect,” an agreement that “would not get us as far as we would like.”
Major issues are Airbnb’s refusal to collect TBID funds and lack of transparency, basically allowing illegal rentals to remain illegal.
Sacramento was looking at legislation aimed at on-line rental sites, but any legislative effort died a silent death.
Council members weren’t crazy about the agreement; area property managers even less so. John Morris explained that Airbnb is “no different than any other business. We’re just asking for an equal playing field. We have to comply with ordinances” and so should the international on-line rental company. “This agreement isn’t just ‘not so great,’” said Greg Martino. “It’s terrible.”
The draft revision was modeled after one written for Truckee, an agreement that Truckee never signed. Instead, the city pursued a contract with Host Compliance, a tech start-up that develops data bases from on-line rental services, providing information to collectors of TOT and TBID revenues.
Holler suggested the city watch Truckee for six months, then consider a similar course.
The number of Mono County Airbnb listings is over 1,000, with 300+ each in Mammoth, June Lake and Lee Vining and nine in Bridgeport. Inyo County numbers aren’t that staggering but still represent potential TOT revenue for the County.
Bishop has 23 rentals with Big Pine and Independence at 11, Lone Pine at 10. And, Airbnb is just one of many on-line rental sites.