Vancouver official denies Airbnb involvement, defends decision to stop taking Twitter complaints

By Lisa Tanh

The head of Vancouver’s Development, Buildings, and Licensing department says tweeting about illegal short-term rentals in the city raises security and privacy issues.

As of yesterday, the city of Vancouver’s VanConnect[1] desktop and mobile app, added a feature to submit short-term rental complaints under the property section. Kaye Krishna, General Manager of Development, Buildings, and Licensing, said the feature was added to make it easier for people to provide digital input as opposed to calling 311.

“We’re also concerned [about] people tweeting individual private home and addresses,” Krisha said. “And we think that there are some security and privacy issues.”

Krisha said Twitter is not considered an official channel to submit complaints to the city and is encouraging the public to not tweet “this kind of information.”

“We need specific information in order to actually enforce short-term rentals,” Krishna said. “We need an address, a unit and evidence of an online posting. Without that, it’s very difficult for us to prove anything or enforce against it.”

Earlier today, a Twitter account called VISTRO which stands for Vancouver’s illegal short-term rental operators, alleged a “conflict of interest” over Krishna’s efforts. VISTRO has been reporting illegal Airbnb rentals in the city to the authorities.

Krishna said VISTRO is “making accusations and drawing connections that are false.”

“I started at that firm in October 2013 and the report came out in October 2013. They weren’t a client of mine and I wasn’t associated with that work,” Krishna said.

VISTRO said Krishna’s “actions tell another story.”

“The Vancouver city council should do what’s right by Vancouverites [and] retract the proposed bylaw,” VISTRO said. “It’s a flawed piece of legislation drawn up by a person who, whether involved with Airbnb or not, seems to be siding with a multibillion dollar corporation against the citizens of Vancouver.”

VISTRO was referring to the proposed bylaw that seeks legalize and regulate short-term rentals in Vancouver.

On Nov. 14, the proposed bylaw by the Development, Buildings, and Licensing department will be voted on by city councilors at City Hall[2]

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