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Mardi Gras and Essence Festival Numbers Could Be at Risk With NOLA Council’s Vote to Restrict Airbnb Rentals

By Rachel George

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Two of New Orleans largest festivals Mardi Gras and Essence Fest‘s attendee numbers could be at risk. Over 500,000 guests attended the Essence Festival alone last year.

After receiving complaints from local residents, the New Orleans City Council has voted to impose new restrictions on short-term Airbnb rentals. Residents are concerned about increased property taxes and diminishing the value of NOLA’s historic neighborhoods.

Andreanecia Morris of the Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance worries short-term rental property owners will completely ignore the restrictions and “go underground and stay underground.” While some residents believe the vote wrongfully takes away property rights.

The vote bans short-term rentals of houses not occupied by owners, limiting the number of rentals on commercial properties, according to US News. It also bans short-term rentals in most of the French Quarter and the Garden District.

Homeowners will still be able to rent out part of their residents for short-term guests. Last year, a watchdog report accused Airbnb of hiking up prices during Mardi Gra, as high as $1,500/night.

Spokesperson Lauren Windson said the report exposed “Airbnb’s hypocrisy for a second time in as many months” and “further pads the profits of commercial operators essentially running hotels in residential neighborhoods.”

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