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Airbnb Tapped These Former Mayors in Its Fight Against Unfriendly Regulations

Home-sharing service Airbnb. Home-sharing service Airbnb.
Home-sharing service Airbnb. Photograph by JOHN MACDOUGALL AFP/Getty Images

Airbnb is arming itself with a new group of official supporters: mayors.

On Friday, the home-sharing company announced it has formed a new advisory board made up of four former mayors from around the world. This new board is part of Airbnb’s efforts to work with cities and local governments to ensure favorable policies are in place for its home-sharing business.

To start, the board will be comprised of Michael Nutter, the former mayor of Philadelphia and chairman of this advisory board; Francesco Rutelli, former mayor of Rome and later Italy’s minister of culture and tourism; Annise Parker, former mayor of Houston and one of the first openly gay mayors in the U.S.; and Stephen Yarwood, former lord mayor of Adelaide, Australia and an Airbnb host himself.

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Nutter was in office when the city of Philadelphia passed regulations legalizing home-sharing through services like Airbnb, just in time for the Pope’s visit. The company has also been collecting and paying hotel taxes on behalf of its Philadelphia hosts since last summer.

Airbnb has faced hostile opposition from regulators in many cities around the world. Last year, the company hired Chris Lehane, a long-time political strategist, to leads its public policy efforts. Under Lehane, the company has been courting mayors and other regulators. Earlier this month, Airbnb sponsored the 84th U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Summer Meeting in Indianapolis, where Lehane made a pitch to attending mayors.

Last month, news surfaced that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has banded with nine other mayors around the world, from cities like Paris and Seoul, to create a common rulebook for managing services like home-sharing and ride-hailing.