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Boston Airbnb battle takes a turn with mass email about City Council member

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Did someone say 30-day cap?


Airbnb sent a mass email April 17 to an undisclosed number of its Boston customers, criticizing City Councilor Michelle Wu’s supposed proposals for restricting the room-sharing giant’s activity in the city.

The email touched off a round of recriminations, mostly over social media, with Wu and her supporters noting that Airbnb had erroneously accused her of supporting a 30-day cap on stays through Airbnb when a dwelling’s owner is not home.

Wu, though a supporter of regulations for room-sharing sites such as Airbnb, has never proposed a 30-day cap—nor has any council member or Mayor Marty Walsh, for that matter.

Wu said over Twitter that Airbnb was spreading “fake news” about her positions. Airbnb said that those positions were nevertheless “anti-tenant, anti-middle class and would violate the privacy of Bostonians sharing their homes.”

The council and the mayor were debating various restrictions and regulations this past winter, but tabled a vote and any implementation in March for further study.

It’s a hot-button issue in Boston: Whether or not the city should regulate such short-term rentals and how. The mass email intensified the debate that much more. And, with Airbnb regulations in place in Cambridge just across the Charles, it seems inevitable that Boston will at some point have to definitively take up the issue.

What’d you think?