City council proposal would legalize hostels amid tourism boom

A city council bill to legalize hostels will be introduced on Wednesday as part of a new campaign to provide tourists with more affordable stay options.

Hostels, with their multi-bed dormitory-style layouts, have long been favored by frugal travelers in the whole world. But there are only a handful of them in New York City, in large part because of a 2010 state law prohibiting New Yorkers from renting entire apartments for less than 30 days if the tenant on the lease is not present. Although the rule was intended as a crackdown on short-term rentals made popular by Airbnb because hostels do not have an official classification according to the city’s building codes, they have been forced to meet the same standards. than the apartments. As a result, most of the hostels in New York classify themselves as hotels.

The latest bill, co-sponsored by Council members Mark Gjonaj and Margaret Chin, would give hostels their own classification and establish a regulatory agency for them. A hostel would be defined as any building in which more than 70% of its rooms are reserved for hostel units. Operators would be required to apply for a special license.

“If you can stay in high end hotels, thank you for visiting, come back. But we want to offer opportunities to those who have modest means ”, Gjonaj told the Wall Street Journal.

This is the second attempt at such legislation. In 2015, Chin introduced a similar bill that was never put to a vote.

In a statement to the WSJ, Josh Meltzer, Northeast Policy Officer for Airbnb, said the home-sharing company hoped lawmakers would be willing to “extend the same courtesy of clarity to their tens of thousands of people.” voters who depend on housing sharing. “

Council President Corey Johnson has said he will review the legislation.

Youth hostels can be significantly cheaper than traditional hotels. The average daily rate for a hotel in New York City is $ 262.31, according to a recent analysis. In contrast, a recent search of the website of the nonprofit Hostelling International on the Upper West Side, the only real hostel in town to be granted a special permit in 1989, showed available rooms. in August for only $ 50 a night.

The legislation comes as New York City experiences a record nine-year period of tourism growth. In 2018, 65.2 million people visited the Big Apple, most of them domestic tourists. Among foreign visitors, the largest numbers came from Great Britain (1.24 million) and China (1.1 million).

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