The capital city’s last bed and breakfast is closing June 1.
It’s owner noticed things were coming to an end about a year ago.
“My neighbor asked me why somebody should stay at the Oakwood Inn,” owner Doris Jurkiewicz said. “And as I’m explaining it too her, she said ‘well why should they stay there? Your neighbors are doing the same thing.’ And I said ‘what?’”
Jurkiewicz, who has operated the inn for 31 years, said business has declined in the six-room bed and breakfast in recent years.
“I had a knock on my door about a month or two later and the woman said ‘do you recognize me,'” she said. “And I said ‘you used to stay here. Did you move into the neighborhood?’ She says ‘oh no. I’m staying at your neighbor’s house. I couldn’t pass up the deal.’”
The former guest was staying at a nearby Airbnb home. Airbnb connects homeowners with visitors looking to rent a room.
Jurkiewicz says her business’ closure is largely due to the app.
“Since they’re not regulated, they’re not paying the taxes and they’re not having to do the same things I do,” she said.
Raleigh city council members declared Airbnb and other room-sharing applications illegal in December after receiving a complaint from a Five Points resident about a neighbor’s rental. The following month, council members referred the issue to a committee for further study and discussion.
Opponents say such services undercut hotel taxes and present a traffic problem for residential neighborhoods. Airbnb users argue that regulations on the service impinge on a homeowner’s right to use his or her property to make some extra income.
Under the city’s current “Bed and Breakfast” laws, such rentals are allowed, but only in historic districts, historic landmarks or properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Gregg Stebben, who operates as an Airbnb host, says operators like him should be regulated.
“The playing field should be leveled,” he said. “No one, I’ve heard no one disagree that taxes should be collected. I think taxes should be collected.”
But he feels Airbnb should not be blamed for Oakwood Inn’s closure.
The issue is business and jobs, not beds, he said.
“You’re the CEO of a tech company and you’re thinking about moving your company here because you’ve been lobbied by the city council or the mayor,” he said. “And you see that Airbnb has been made illegal, you’re going to think this is not a place I want to move. This is not friendly to the tech industry or startups at all.”
Reporter: Candace Sweat
Photographer: Andrew Cumbee
Web Editor: Stan Chambers Jr.