Armed with video of nightmare Airbnb party house, alderman aims to bolster city regulations

Police prepare to clear out a packed Airbnb party in Old Town in April 2019. | YouTube

A Lincoln Park alderman yesterday distributed video showing just how big some Airbnb parties can get. The clip shows dozens and dozens of people entering a rental home on the 1700 block of North Sedgwick to party in February, March, April, May, and July of 2019.

It also shows cops driving throngs of people out of the home to re-establish the peace. Watch:

Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) included the video in an email to update constituents on her efforts to strengthen the city’s short-term rental ordinance. Smith said the current ordinance is cumbersome and ineffectual, noting that it took more than three years to revoke the Sedgwick home’s license to list on sites like Airbnb.

“In another example, CPD seized 24 illegal guns, including an automatic weapon and extended magazines at an Airbnb party in Wicker Park,” Smith said, referring to a Feb. 1 incident that led to charges being filed against four felons.

“That one incident consumed at least $50,000 in police resources,” Smith said.

Officials want to modernize the ordinance to bring it in-line with other cities that have “gone beyond Chicago,” according to Smith. Among the changes being sought by city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP), Smith said:

  • pre-approval by the city before a short-term rental unit is listed on any platform
  • requiring platforms and hosts to “respond directly and immediately” to safety concerns
  • the “immediate availability of data” to the city

Under current arrangements, the “does not even have full access to the identities of hosts, making it difficult to verify ownership, and making it impossible for the police to respond effectively to incidents,” Smith wrote.

“Unlike cities all over the world, BACP today must subpoena short term rental platforms for information about hosts and rental information, a time-consuming process.”

“Many of us have had good experiences with short-term rentals in our travels,” Smith concluded. “But as a business, it should be regulated, with transparency of data and safety for the community.”

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is