Planning Board to discuss Airbnb uses Oct. 25

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By Charles Kim

WEST MILFORD – The Planning Board is scheduled to discuss a resolution about using residential properties as part of the online Airbnb service at its Oct. 25 meeting, officials said this week.

A subcommittee of the board received a request from the Township Council Sept. 27 to look into the practice and come up with a recommendation for the governing body to act on.

The online service, similar to Uber and Lyft, allows for on-demand hospitality services, renting rooms and homes for short terms varying from one night to more than 20, according to the listings on the Airbnb website.

According to the company, West Milford currently has about 60 listings and those hosting in the township earn an average of more than $10,000 per year each.

Airbnb started in 2008 and uses an online application to put people needing a place to stay with “hosts” that let out rooms and homes for short term rentals.

According to the company, the service provides more than 5 million listings in 191 countries worldwide, including 81,000 cities.

With an average of more than 2 million guests checking in a night, the service reports serving more than 300 million guests since its inception.

The service acts in a similar way that Uber and Lyft operate for transportation, with customers filling out an online profile and then are matched with places to stay in a given geographic area.

Customers pick the place and price that they want and pay for the stay through the application.

It is only a small slice of the state’s hospitality revenue, which was more than $11.8 billion in 2017, according to a report from Oxford Economics on the tourism industry in the state for that year.

Two neighbors living next to a home used in this way spoke out during a recent Township Council meeting expressing concerns about the practice and asking if it was allowed in the township.

The owner of the home in question said she spent around $80,000 renovating the home and that work added to the local economy as well as to the values of neighboring homes.

Township Administrator Antoinette Battaglia said the practice may not be allowed in certain residential areas, but the practice is something that is “not familiar.”

That is why the issue was referred to the planning board for a discussion and a possible recommendation back to the council.

If the board adopts the resolution following a discussion on Oct. 25, the matter will then return to the council for further action, she said.

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