Report: Alabama Mayor offers Airbnb despite city rental ban

An Alabama Mayor said he will have to “man up” and deal with the blowback after a newspaper reported he was operating an Airbnb at his home despite a city ordinance that prohibits such short-term rentals.

Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling told the Decatur Daily he might need to stop offering a small guesthouse for rent following its reporting.

“Obviously this will end up being embarrassing,” Bowling told the newspaper Tuesday. “… It’s not something I look forward to dealing with in the media. I’m not looking forward to that. But I’m looking forward to the ordinance being changed so that we can do this.”

A Decatur ordinance prohibits Airbnbs and other short-term rentals except in certain parts of the city, but Bowling has been offering a small house on his property for rent for as little as $70 a night since at least August, the newspaper reported.

In September, after Bowling began renting out the guesthouse and as the council was discussing the possibility of relaxing the ban on short-term rentals, Bowling told the newspaper that many other people were renting houses for short stays despite the ban.

“It’s definitely something we need to address for our city because it’s being done. It’s almost like bootlegging before the city was wet,” Bowling said.

Bowling said he may need to stop renting the guesthouse until the issue is resolved.

“This (publicity) is probably not going to be met with a lot of favor. I’ll just have to man up and deal with it,” said Bowling, who was first elected in 2016 and won a second term two years ago.

City leaders were critical of Bowling’s actions.

“That was just dumb,” said Council member Carlton McMasters. “We’re elected and we take an oath to uphold our laws and ordinances, and that wasn’t done. We try to be transparent in decision-making and I hope this doesn’t cause distrust.”


Republished with permission from The Associated Press.

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