Chicago's controversial 'Airbnb ordinance' to go into effect

By Sara McCleary | Mar 17, 2017

CHICAGO – A judge has dissolved a stay on the effective date of Chicago’s controversial home sharing ordinance, allowing the city to begin enforcing the law.

The stay had initially been granted as a result of a lawsuit filed by Keep Chicago Livable (KCL), an organization devoted to fighting the so-called Airbnb bill. 

“Keep Chicago Livable grew out of the massive citizen protests at City Hall when the City Council was initially considering this bill,” attorney Shorge Sato, who represents the KCL organization, told the Cook County Record. “Once officially formed, a board of directors of Keep Chicago Livable was elected, and the Board decided to retain counsel and file the lawsuit.”

Concerning the latest development in the lawsuit, Sato said that the judge “dissolved the stay on the effective date without addressing our second motion for preliminary injunction." 

"We raised this legal error with her, but she denied our motion for reconsideration," Sato said. "We intend to appeal and ask the Seventh Circuit for a stay pending appeal.”

U.S. District Judge Sara Ellis, however, denied the request for preliminary injunction in a separate ruling delivered March 13.

The setbacks for the organization come only a few weeks after it won another battle. 

The Chicago City Council decided to amend the ordinance so that those sharing their homes via websites like Airbnb no longer have to allow city officials to have access to their guests’ personal information without a warrant.

"We’re pleased the city has repealed one obviously unconstitutional provision of its home-sharing ordinance and will no longer violate the privacy rights of home-sharers and their guests in this way," Jacob Huebert, an attorney representing the Liberty Justice Center, (LJC) one of the organizations that is suing the city. "But the city shouldn’t have stopped there. This ordinance is still full of unconstitutional provisions that violate homeowners’ rights.”

Similarly, Sato said that with the amendments to the ordinance, “the city once again shows that they don’t get it.” 

Sato represents Keep Chicago Livable, the second organization fighting the city’s home-sharing law.

Sato said there is a difference between the two organizations' suits.

“The main difference between KCL’s lawsuit and the LJC lawsuit is that Keep Chicago Livable is seeking to protect the rights of Chicago homeowners whereas LJC is seeking to protect the rights of out-of-state investors," Sato said. "Keep Chicago Livable’s lawsuit argues that there are fundamental rights that are being infringed, such as the right of a homeowner to have guests of their own choosing in their house.” 

According to Sato, the two groups discussed working together, but decided that more could be accomplished individually.

The recent changes to the ordinance did not affect KCL’s lawsuit, apart from amending its complaint to remove the relevant sections. 

The group’s updated complaint, submitted on Feb. 27, reads “the Shared Housing Ordinance constitutes an unconstitutional burden on the rights of ordinary Chicagoans to speak or to not speak, by requiring them to register with the government and agree to onerous conditions before they can communicate a simple message on the internet: ‘Guests welcome.’"

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Organizations in this Story

City of Chicago Liberty Justice Center Shoken Legal Ltd.

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