Pressure mounts on City of Vancouver’s Kaye Krishna to resign over Airbnb fiasco

By ThinkPol Staff

Pressure is mounting on Kaye Krishna to stand down as the Vancouver official responsible for the Airbnb file.

Critics allege that she has not done enough to crackdown on short term rentals mushrooming in a city grappling with a housing crisis.

The City of Vancouver appointed Krishna to freshly created post of General manager of Development, Buildings, and Licensing in 2016 with much fanfare and a $250K annual salary[1]

But calls for Krishna to step down from her post started soon after she told reporters that the lack of enforcement was a question of priorities, and that short-term rental hosts who operate illegal listings have little to fear beyond a letter.

The chorus of voices calling for Krishna’s resignation started growing once it emerged that she had previously worked at HR&A, a New York City lobbying company that lists Airbnb as one of its clients.

Last week, Vancouver’s Airbnb-fighting Twitter account VISTRO, which stands for Vancouver’s illegal short-term rental operators, alleged a “conflict of interest” over Krishna’s efforts.

Krishna vehemently denies these allegations.

Krishna told ThinkPol that 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,” Krishna said.
“They weren’t a client of mine and I wasn’t associated with that work.”

The City of Vancouver is standing by Krishna, putting out a press release saying “Kaye Krishna joined HR&A in October 2013, the same month AirBnB published a report written by HR&A She did not work on the report and had no association with AirBnB as a client.”

“City Council directed staff to review short-term rental regulation on April 5, 2016 – before Kaye Krishna joined the City of Vancouver,” the City added. “Kaye Krishna joined COV after City Council policy direction and after City staff had started work on the recommended STR approach.”

Both Krishna and the City of Vancouver failed to mention that HR&A published a similar report again in 2015, when Krishna was still working for the lobbying company[2]

Meanwhile, an online petition is demanding Krishna’s resignation, alleging that “Kaye Krishna’s conduct amounts to, at minimum, dereliction of duty by a public official.”[3]

“Airbnb is a scourge that is heavily contributing to the housing crisis,” Vancouverite Paula Brink wrote upon signing the petition. “City Hall’s job is to control it not pander to it.”

“I want Vancouverites to have an affordable place to live,” Kim Molinski, another signatory, said. “AirBnB simply makes the rich richer, and squeezes out middle and lower income earners.”

“The City should be looking out for the interests of all citizens, who are experiencing the worst housing affordability and accessibility crisis, and not pandering to the interests of the few who are intent on maximizing self- interest (greed),” Deb Rhodes wrote, and went to on to describe Mayor Gregor Robertson and the Vancouver City Council as a disgrace “who are destroying our City with demolitions and building permits for foreign ‘investors’ who pay no taxes here.”

“Shame on the lot of them!” Rhodes said.

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