“With a revolving door of strangers coming and going from short-term rental properties, tools like sex offender lists are becoming obsolete,” wrote Stacie Rumenap, president of the nonprofit Stop Child Predators, in a guest column last March in the Knox News in Knoxville, Tennessee. “There is no safeguard in place to stop a child predator from renting an Airbnb property next door.”
At the time, Tennessee lawmakers were considering whether to forbid cities across the state from regulating short-term rentals. Rumenap wrote that if the legislation passed, “the term ‘Stranger Danger’ will take on a whole new meaning for parents in Tennessee as the community fabric of neighborhoods across the state will be fractured and local schools, parents and children will have to contend with more complete strangers in their neighborhoods.”
Tennessee was not the only battle in Stop Child Predators’ war against short-term rentals. Throughout 2018 and into 2019, the group has published nearly identical op-eds and letters to the editor in Miami and Washington, D.C., and participated in anti-Airbnb campaigns in Los Angeles, Boston and San Diego. Starting in June 2018, the group’s Facebook page dedicated itself almost exclusively to supporting local efforts to restrict short-term rentals. In May 2019 alone, Stop Child Predators posted more than two dozen advertisements related to legislation in Hawaii that would loosen the state’s existing regulations and allow more Airbnb units to come onto the market.
“How would you feel,” the group writes on its page about the Hawaii bill, “if you are a parent of young children, about your kids playing outside in the cul-de-sac, riding bikes or playing ball when you have no idea who is renting out the place next door and have no real way of finding out?”