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Don't buy Airbnb's claim that L.A. would lose millions under new regulations

To the editor: On behalf of the Los Angeles hotels that help generate more that $200 million annually for the city in Transient Occupancy Taxes (TOT) and are members of the California Hotel & Lodging Assn., we are flummoxed by the lack of honest math regarding short-term rentals and their impact on the city’s budget. (“Airbnb warns that L.A.'s budget could suffer from restricting short-term rentals,” April 18)

The city controller’s letter to the mayor cites $32.4 million in potential new TOT revenue for the city and asks the City Council to be “forward-thinking” as it considers the budget and an upcoming rental ordinance. Airbnb’s lobbyist also wrote a letter, citing the potential of $37 million being generated in TOT revenue.

There’s just one big problem: These figures are not verifiable, audited, transparent or real. The Times should ask the controller and Airbnb to show the public where those numbers came from and who audited them — just like any other tax-paying business does.

Lynn S. Mohrfeld, Sacramento

The writer is president and chief executive of the California Hotel & Lodging Assn.

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To the editor: The real force (and money) behind the push for limits on Airbnb hosting in L.A. is the hotel industry, which has experienced downward pressure on room rates because of the availability of more affordable options on Airbnb.

L.A. has both a short- and long-term housing crisis. Through Airbnb I host skilled traveling nurses who help meet critical staffing needs of local hospitals. I host writers and other creatives whose work sustains the industries upon which much of L.A. depends. I also host families who can afford to visit L.A. attractions only because of Airbnb.

As a senior citizen, the compensation I receive from my guests enables me to volunteer as a mentor with a local nonprofit. In the meantime, the taxes Airbnb generates for Los Angeles can be used to produce more affordable long-term housing, which was in short supply long before Airbnb came into existence.

Margaret Martin, Los Angeles

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