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Ashton Kutcher, Peter Thiel, others write letter to NY governor in defense of Airbnb

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They may have differing opinions on Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, but actor Ashton Kutcher and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel are finding a way to bridge the aisle. It’s all for the sake of Airbnb, the embattled home-rental company that seems loved by users and absolutely deplored by regulators.

A number of heavy hitters in California, celebrities and Silicon Valley types alike, have joined forces to write a letter to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, asking him to veto anti-Airbnb legislation in New York City.

“As investors and industry leaders, we believe in the good that Airbnb and home sharing have done for residents of New York,” the letter reads. “We implore you to reaffirm your commitment to fostering technology and innovation.”

In June, the New York Senate and Assembly agreed upon a bill that could levy $7,500 fines on Airbnb hosts for renting out their properties. Since 2010, the Big Apple has said no to renting out your house or apartment for fewer than 30 days, but the newly proposed law would lend some credence to that original legislation with a pretty hefty chunk of change.

Cuomo has yet to make his decision on the bill (his deadline is January), and the letter from Kutcher, Thiel, and friends hopes to sway him toward a veto. In addition to Kutcher and Thiel, more than  30 others also signed the letter, including Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen. Of course, Kutcher has additional skin in the game, as he’s an investor in Airbnb. Some other signatories are in the same boat.

The Democratic governor, however, may be convinced by other members of his party to crack down on Airbnb. Other Dems have noted that Airbnb has served to worsen the housing crisis in New York and across the country, and have further suggested that sharing homes could be dangerous or impinge upon residents’ quality of life. One group of Democrats, the Progressive Caucus of the New York City Council, wrote a letter of their own to Cuomo in favor of the bill, noting that it would “go a long way toward stopping the proliferation of illegal hotels that currently puts affordable housing at risk.”

So who’s side is Cuomo going to take? We may have to wait until early next year to find out.

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Lulu Chang
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