Krishna’s report to the Council on short term rentals, Airbnb-commissioned report done by her former lobbying company show similarities

By ThinkPol Staff

ThinkPol has obtained an unpublished report by Kaye Krishna’s former lobbying company that show similarities to the report the Vancouver official presented to the council on the impact of short term rentals.

Vancouver’s General manager of Development, Buildings, and Licensing Kaye Krishna, acted as a principal of HR&A, a New York City-based lobbying company that Airbnb hired to write reports highlighting the corporation’s positive impacts.

A number of statements contained in Krishna’s report to the Vancouver City Council dated September 28, 2016 seem[1] to contain lines out of an unpublished 2015 report[2] Airbnb commissioned HR&A to prepare.

Krishna claims in the report that “It appears that in peak periods at least, short-term rentals accommodate visitors that would not otherwise be able to stay in Vancouver.”

HR&A’s report claims that “Airbnb likely attracts substantial visits and spending that would not occur otherwise.”

Krishna’s report: “Short-term rental proponents point to the local economic benefits of drawing visitors and their leisure spending outside of conventional tourist areas, and allowing residents in an expensive city to generate income from unused space.”

HR&A’s report: “Most Airbnb guests stay outside main hotel areas throughout NYC,” “Airbnb visitors create significant economic activity in the outer boroughs,” and “More hosts are reporting that Airbnb helps them to afford high housing costs.”

Krishna’s report: “Further, temporarily repurposing residential rooms and units for visitor accommodation is an easy, inexpensive form of increasing accommodation supply
during event-related peaks (e.g. major sporting events).”

HR&A’s report: “Airbnb helps solve an accommodation bottleneck, enabling NYC to
accommodate more people who want to visit.”

Krishna’s report: “Proponents of short-term rentals also say that less conventional visitor accommodation often located outside of traditional tourist areas appeals to the growing ‘new urban tourism’ market in which visitors forego conventional tourist experiences in favour of living like a local.”

HR&A report: “Airbnb attracts more guests looking for affordable accommodations
and experiences off the beaten path.”

The City of Vancouver appointed Krishna to the freshly created post of General manager of Development, Buildings, and Licensing in 2016 with much fanfare and a $250K annual salary[3]

But Krishna has been in the spotlight since last week, when Vancouver’s Airbnb-fighting Twitter account VISTRO, which stands for Vancouver’s illegal short-term rental operators, alleged a “conflict of interest” over her involvement with a lobbying company that listed Airbnb as a client.

Krishna and the City of Vancouver both 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 the 2015 report.

Meanwhile, an online petition demanding Krishna’s resignation on allegations that “Kaye Krishna’s conduct amounts to, at minimum, dereliction of duty by a public official.”[4] have received hundreds of signatures.

“The last thing Vancouver or British Columbia needs is Airbnb,” Vancouverite Zoe Cattell cited as the reason for signing the petition. “If you haven’t noticed we’re in the middle of a housing crisis! Airbnb will just further reduce suits that would otherwise be available to the long term rental market.”

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

“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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