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First Lyft, Now Airbnb? Entrepreneurs Fret Over Regulations

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Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – After the city’s Lyft controversy, St. Louis-area entrepreneurs are hoping that other budding businesses won’t be targeted by government regulation.

Their next concern has to do with a St. Louis County Council proposal to require a new license for those renting out their own property.

One entrepreneur thinks it could have a chilling effect on sites such as Airbnb, on which people can rent out a couch, extra bedroom, or even their whole house or apartment to others. According to the website, it is free to sign up and with a built-in community, listings can possibly be seen by a worldwide audience.

“If we’re trying to pull in innovative tech companies from around the country, our actions aren’t really reflecting the message we’re trying to get out,” says local entrepreneur Tyler Mathews.

Mathews says St. Louis is building a national reputation as a start-up center, but innovators need to know before they move that they’re not going to be shut down.

“Our actions really aren’t reflecting the message we are trying to get out, if we’re slapping bans and fines on people and on new companies that are basically disrupting the current environment,” Mathews said.

St. Louis County Councilman Greg Quinn agrees, which is why he says he voted against the measure at Tuesday night’s meeting. He says he does think it could scare people off.

“I think any time you have another layer of regulation, of bureaucracy, you are going to have a chilling effect on this type of use,” Quinn said.

He thinks the county’s current laws, like property maintenance codes, are sufficient. If necessary, he says the county can already prosecute troubled landlords.

The measure needs one more vote before it goes to the County Executive. Sponsor councilman Mike O’Mara was unable to comment Tuesday.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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