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Mayor says Jersey City, N.J. could allow Airbnb

(Reuters) – The mayor of Jersey City, New Jersey, said on Monday that his city could become the first in the New York City, tri-state area to legalize short-term housing rentals through Airbnb and similar online home-rental services.

Under a measure introduced by Mayor Steven Fulop, Jersey City could raise up to $1 million in revenues annually because Airbnb agreed to be responsible for charging and collecting the city’s standard 6 percent hotel tax.

“While some people might have concerns about the sharing economy upending old ways of doing business, the best way to address those concerns is by engaging with these companies, not pretending they do not exist,” Fulop said.

The Jersey City city council is expected to consider the proposal on Wednesday.

The additional money would represent a 14 percent increase in Jersey City’s annual hotel tax revenue, according to a statement from Fulop.

While a number of U.S. cities have officially allowed rentals through the popular website, other major cities – including neighboring New York City – have cracked down on illegal use of the service.

Even in Airbnb’s hometown of San Francisco, a proposed law on the November ballot would limit the use of homes as hotels through services such as Airbnb. Backers of the initiative contend that Airbnb exacerbates the city’s brutal housing shortage.

But Max Pomeranc, Airbnb’s regional head of public policy, said in the statement that the new law “would generate more revenue for Jersey City and help countless families who share their homes and use the money they earn to pay the bills.” (Reporting by Hilary Russ in New York, editing by G Crosse)

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