Letter to the Editor: Entrapment of Auburn Citizens

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OPINION —

The city of Auburn utilized an Auburn employee, Haley Lott, from the revenue department to gather short-term rental information on 300 Auburn families concerning their Airbnb, VRBO and other short-term rental accounts from a company called Granicus that sold the city its host compliance software (https://granicus.com/solution/govservice/host-compliance/).

How was the entrapment accomplished? By making bogus reservations.

This city revenue department employee would make fake reservations with an alias name such as Brook, Johnny, etc. Airbnb requires an ID within 24 hours, proving that the person making the reservation is real, of course this city employee had no identification with her alias names, so the non-reservation would never be made. But the city of Auburn used this tactic by entrapping hard-working Auburn citizens as evidence in the many Auburn Municipal Court hearings on Ordinance 3288.

Entrapment is not illegal, but I feel it’s an unethical and terrible way for the city of Auburn to go after hard-working, tax-paying and abiding citizens.

Why is the city working so hard to destroy 151 Auburn families under a discriminatory Ordinance 3288 short-term rental when there are many other ordinances they do not enforce?

WHY HAS THE CITY OF AUBURN SPENT SO

MUCH ADDITIONAL MONEY AND EFFORT:

• Hired an employee (benefits)

• Purchase of a truck (expenses)

• Software

• Defending the short-term rental lawsuit with a Birmingham law firm instead of a local law firm

• Taken loss of revenue of 151 short-term rentals totaling in the $100,000’s

WHY DID THE MAYOR AMEND ORDINANCE

3288 BACK TO ITS ORIGINAL LANGUAGE?

February of last year ordinance 3288 STR was amended by Councilwoman Widden to let everyone be able to do STR but with structure and some rules.  The council approved the amendment, but it had to be re-advertised because of the change and revoted on in March. But between February and the March meeting, Mayor Anders decided to make a second amendment to change back to the original proposed ordinance where 151 families would be discriminated against and lose their constitutional rights to have short-term rentals.

LOTS OF UNANSWERED QUESTIONS.

Robert Wilkins

Auburn, Alabama

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