Open Letter to the Development, Planning, and Sustainability Committee

Development, Planning and Sustainability Committee

Chair: Anthony Brancatelli Vice Chair: Phyllis E. Cleveland
Members: Brian J. Cummins; TJ Dow; Kerry McCormack; Terrell H. Pruitt; Matthew Zone

April 18, 2016

RE: Ord. No. 30-16: Cleveland Occupancy Tax

Dear Committee Members:

On behalf of the Downtown Cleveland Residents Association (DCRA), and the 16,000 residents and stakeholders for whom we advocate on various issues, we write to share our input on the proposed Cleveland Occupancy Tax legislation before your committee. The DCRA supports the proposed legislation.

With the recent agreement reached by Cuyahoga County and Airbnb, it only makes sense to regulate and tax this industry. By regulating short-term rentals, Cleveland levels the playing field in the lodging industry. Applying lodging taxes to these transactions at least partially removes an unfair advantage these rentals have over hotels, and the source of funding to various agencies this tax supports, including Destination Cleveland.

One legislative item that was vigorously debated by our organization was the owner-occupancy minimums proposed by the ordinance. Understanding the necessity of those limits in markets in other larger cities, after discussion, we feel that this component of the legislation makes it unlikely that corporate entities will be able to purchase previously-available rental properties and legally operate them as de facto hotels. These limits would reduce the likelihood that such short-term rentals would tighten the rental market and negatively impact the buildings that currently house the majority of Downtown residents. The limits also ensures that such rentals do not become a means to avoid Ohio's landlord-tenant law.

Many Downtown residents are directly affected by this new platform and the legislation proposed to regulate it, either as hosts or those affected by visitors. Cleveland would benefit from generating income to pay the public costs associated with transient visitors, such as police and fire protection. Some of the revenue could also be used for enforcement of the building code. But we need to make sure that taxes are collected, safety rules are followed, and neighborhood residents are respected. Only then will we be able to say that these new platforms are leading to what we all want - a more vibrant City of Cleveland for community members as well as visitors.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of our input.   

Sincerely,

Joseph Giuliano

Joseph Giuliano

President - Downtown Cleveland Resident Association