Rock Island to introduce new regulations for Airbnb users

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois -- With some local homeowners using Airbnb to earn extra money, disagreements over how the popular online booking service should be regulated has put some neighbors at odds.

The city of Rock Island in considering new rules for home sharing platforms like Airbnb. City Manager Randy Tweet said city staff would present a proposal to city council sometime next month.

Airbnb host Debbie Freiburg said she loved having guests in the lower unit of her home.

"It's been the most exciting thing I've ever done in my life," she said. "I love it. Love the people. And I hope to continue someday."

She advertised it as a "Private Hideaway in the Woods" on the platform until recently -- she's been barred from using it since Rock Island city council voted 4-3 in January to deny her a special use permit.

"My view is that it's just a bad idea," said Rock Island 4th Ward Alderman Stephen Tollenaer. "I'm here to protect the neighborhoods. That's what the special permit does, it's the perfect system the way it is," he said.

One of Debbie's neighbor's started a petition, signed by seven people, complaining about the traffic coming down their dead-end street and the strangers coming to stay on their block. The neighbor declined to be interviewed by News Eight, but said that most people wouldn't want such a business on their block.

Debbie says her guests are wonderful people.

"They want to stay with a family. They want to stay in a home," she said.

She's hopeful that the city will rethink how it handles the gig economy and services like Airbnb. But until then, her private hideaway is an empty nest.



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