Airbnb says about 180 Evanston residents shared their homes on the vacation rental service this year and earned a total of $1.26 million doing it.

Ben Breit, a company spokesman, said most participants in the service only share their homes for a handful of nights per year — for example on football weekends or when Northwestern University is holding commencement exercises — which accounts for the discrepancy between the 180 participants and a typical Airbnb listing count most of the year of about a dozen Evanston properties.

Breit says that peak-demand-days-only strategy is very common among owners in cities where a major university is located.

He also says the total number of vacation rental owners here makes Evanston the number two city in Illinois for vacation rentals, behind only Chicago.

He says mosts hosts share an extra, unused room in their homes, rather than an entire property, and that the typical Evanston host earned about $6,000 in supplemental income annually through the platform.

Airbnb collects a 6 percent state hotel tax and a 1 percent Cook County hotel tax on its bookings, and starting in 2018 will also collect a 7.5 percent Evanston hotel tax.

Under Evanston’s recently adopted vacation rental licensing ordinance, a homeowner can do a short-term rental, less than 30 days, once a year without getting a license. Any more often and they’re required to seek a city license, which requires a $50 annual fee.

Breit says Airbnb’s growth hasn’t harmed the hotel industry in Illinois, which has recently seen increased revenue and occupancy levels.

Evanston aldermen have scheduled a discussion of a posssible moratorium on new vacation rental licenses for their Monday, Jan. 8, meeting and they’re scheduled to vote on the city’s sixth vacation rental license at that meeting

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Another Toothless Ordinance

    After reading the ordinance it was painfully obvious this is just another in a long line of legislation brought  forward by the City Manager who is making another feeble attemp to regulate a pseudo business with little  understanding on how to enforce the code. This is just a feel good ordinance designed to placate elected officials and make their unhappy constituents  who verbalize their displeasure with nuisance rentals complacent. All bark and no bite and am willing to bet little or no direction to staff on how to administer this effectively.

  2. City balks at our trying to survive their taxes

    Meters outside downtown Evanston will go up. But that is not all. The council hates to see that we are making a little money on the side. That cannot be! So now airbnbers will have to pay more and more fees and taxes. What? Are they making money? We the council must snatch it from them! What is it city council? You can’t stand seeing us making a little money to survive your tax hoarding?

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