New Albany officials weighing pros and cons of Airbnb regulations

NEW ALBANY, Ind. (WDRB)-- Josh Pavey's grandmother just got done with a big facelift to her classic home on New Albany's mansion row. 

"She just recently repainted the entire outside of her house, redid the facade, the woodwork," he said.

She's been able to do it because of the extra money she's bringing in after opening her doors to visitors. Her home is an Airbnb. 

"It's been a huge asset to her," Pavey said about his grandmother.

She's part of a growing trend in New Albany. A new spot in the southern Indiana city seems to pop up on daily. The winds of change don't go unnoticed by lawmakers. Talk is beginning about how to properly regulate the new businesses.

"I'd like for there to be discussion from the public, public input, about what they want their neighborhoods to look like," said City Councilman Al Knable.

He's decided to get the conversation started. 

"Here's the argument I've heard: An Airbnb isn't a bed and breakfast," Knable said. "Well yes it is. It's very name stands for bed and breakfast."

Right now, Knable stands behind a small $5 rental registry fee. He also thinks taxing the temporary rentals should not be out of the question.

"I think that there should be a hospitality tax on that, and the nice thing about that hospitality tax is it comes back and is earmarked for tourism for the county and the city," Knable said.

New Albany's hospitality tax currently sits at 11 percent. Any hotel guest there pays that.

"I feel like we're potentially stepping over dollars just to make pennies here," Pavey said.

He and his grandmother think the idea could hurt not only what they're doing over on Main Street, but the comeback New Albany has been making as a whole.

"That's ultimately going to impact what I think is the biggest benefit of Airbnb to this city, which is out-of-town exposure, and customers for these local businesses, restaurants and shops," Pavey said.

It's no secret that enforcing Airbnb regulations has been a challenge in Louisville. Knable said establishing clear concise rules with manpower to enforce them will hopefully avoid that kind of headache in New Albany.

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