As Chicago crafts new rules for Airbnb, city isn't listening to users

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Before writing new rules that affect 4,500 Airbnb hosts across the city of Chicago, you might expect city officials to hear what those people have to say.

But some hosts say they’re being shut out of the political process, and have had to fight to get a hearing with elected officials who are planning to vote later this month on new citywide regulations for short-term rentals and room-sharing like those offered by Airbnb, VRBO and other websites and apps.

One of those hosts is Valerie Landis, who told Watchdog that she’s spent the last few weeks trying to get a meeting with her Alderman, Brendan Reilly. After attending a local meeting on Wednesday night, she said other hosts in the city have had similar trouble.

“Shame on the city for not listening to their people about our experiences and why Airbnb is actually good for the community,” Landis said in an email to Watchdog.

In frustration at calling the alderman’s office to little or no result, Landis took to social media and tweeted at Reilly throughout the day on Wednesday. (Watchdog also called Reilly’s office to see why he would not speak with Landis or other Airbnb hosts in his ward. He did not respond)

Finally, a breakthrough — sort of.

Landis got a response from one of Reilly’s staffers on Wednesday night. She was told a meeting could be arranged if she would stop posting on social media, though as of Thursday afternoon she has yet to be given a specific date and time to meet with the aldermann.

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