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Illustration: Sara Grillo

Airbnb is rolling out a new dashboard that will let participating cities and tourism organizations directly view and interact with listings and activities within their jurisdictions.

Why it matters: Municipalities have long asked for direct access to information about listings and the ability to take immediate take action against those violating local laws. And Airbnb has long resisted giving it to them.

Flashback: In 2015, after a defeating a San Francisco ballot measure that would have imposed stricter limits on short-term rentals, Airbnb put out what it calls its "Community Compact," a sort of pledge to work more with cities and communities to curb negative effects of rentals.

  • "Five years ago is when we began to really transition from a different perspective on our responsibility when it comes to sharing information and data on what people are doing in certain communities," Airbnb head of global policy Chris Lehane tells Axios.
  • Since then, it has slowly expanded its host tax collection on behalf of cities, implemented tools for host compliance tools, and provided municipalities with some data.

Details: Airbnb is first providing the portal to more than a dozen cities and tourism organizations, including San Francisco, Raleigh, Buffalo, and Calgary, as part of a test pilot program. Tourism offices include Visit Tampa Bay, the City of Krakow, and Visit Tuscany.

  • Each city will have a custom dashboard displaying Airbnb listings within its jurisdictions and activity data such as average earnings and where guests are traveling from, as well as a dedicated point of contact at Airbnb to help with any issues or questions.
  • Cities will also have the ability to take action against particular listings if they find they are out of compliance, and can directly block them through the dashboard.
  • Airbnb plans to make the portal more widely available after the initial testing program, though it declined to provide a specific timeline.

What they're saying: "Our Office of Short-Term Rentals has seen the tool and they really think it'll help a lot," Jeff Cretan, communications director for San Francisco Mayor London Breed, tells Axios.

  • "Right now the way we share information with Airbnb to identify these bad actors is really slow and laborious," he says of the current method of sending spreadsheets back and forth between the city and the company. "It'll be much more efficient."

Between the lines: Despite its commitment to play nice in 2015, Airbnb has not been shy in its regulatory fights — even suing its hometown, San Francisco, the following year over proposed fines.

  • Yes, but: Municipalities' powers to bar the company from operating are very real, and this threat is now more important than ever as Airbnb prepares to finally go public.
  • "The city portal is something we've been working on for some time and it is a next chapter but also part of the journey we've been on," says Lehane, declining to comment on whether the IPO is a factor in rolling out this portal.
  • But he pointed to the company's 2015 city ballot fight as "a fork in the road moment," adding that "the bigger learning we took from that was that it's really on us to begin working with governments."

The bottom line: This is has been a long time coming for Airbnb.

Go deeper

Cities battle the natural gas industry

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A growing number of climate-conscious cities — from San Francisco to Brookline, Massachusetts — have voted to ban natural gas hookups in newly-built apartment and commercial buildings, putting an end to gas-powered stoves, water heaters and clothes dryers.

Why it matters: As more liberal-tilting cities like Seattle follow suit, the push toward "electrification" is likely to play out on the national stage, sparking debate over the merits of electricity vs. gas.

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Sources say Beto plans Texas comeback in governor’s race

Former U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke speaks during the Georgetown to Austin March for Democracy rally on July 31, 2021, in Austin, Texas. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke is preparing to run for governor of Texas in 2022, with an announcement expected later this year, Texas political operatives tell Axios.

Why it matters: O'Rourke's entry would give Democrats a high-profile candidate with a national fundraising network to challenge Republican Gov. Greg Abbott — and give O’Rourke, a former three-term congressman from El Paso and 2020 presidential candidate and voting rights activist, a path to a political comeback.

Texas doctor says he performed an abortion in violation of state law

Pro-choice protesters march down Congress Avenue and back to the Texas state capitol in Austin, Texas, in July 2021. Photo: Erich Schlegel/Getty Images

A Texas doctor disclosed in an op-ed in the Washington Post on Saturday that he has performed an abortion in violation of the state's restrictive new abortion law, which effectively bans the procedure after six weeks.

Why it matters: Alan Braid's op-ed is a direct disclosure that will very likely result in legal action, thereby setting it up as a potential test case for how the abortion ban will be litigated, notes the New York Times.