Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward refused to answer questions from Scott Powers, a reporter with FloridaPolitics.com, regarding his Airbnb commercial.
Powers reported that opponents of Airbnb’s legislative agenda are striking back with a video of their own that also features Hayward, the star of the Airbnb commercial in which the mayor extolled the virtues of vacation rental homes in Pensacola and Airbnb for marketing them.
The Florida Politics reporter explained what is at stake in the Florida Legislature: “Airbnb and other vacation rental home companies, such as rival marketing firm HomeAway, have been pushing for legislation to prevent cities, towns and counties from regulating vacation rental homes, arguing that such local regulation gets out of hand and thwarts competition in the lodging industry.”
AirbnbWatch had interviewed Hayward at the U.S. Conference of Mayors last June. He was asked if he would prefer that mayors have the ability to regulate vacation rental homes, rather than having lawmakers pass “broad brush” laws.
In his circular way of answering questions, Hayward said, “For me, when it comes to your location, your local community, sometimes there are issues you need to regulate that are different than across the state. If you think about the great state of Florida, it’s the third largest state in the union. And so those are issues that are sometimes different say in Tampa, or in Miami, or Miami Beach, for that matter, or Boca, or Orlando. It’s a big state, so it’s difficult sometimes to have this broad brush of regulation.”
Powers added that the Hayward’s office wouldn’t respond to a request to discuss the conflicting messages in the two videos.
Meanwhile, AirbnbWatch has taped interviews with other Florida mayors and will be releasing them soon. At the Pensacola City Council’s agenda review on Monday, members questioned the wisdom of the mayor cutting a commercial for Airbnb and doing part of it from his office in city hall.