Cleveland City Council OKs Open-Container Districts, Tax on Room-Booking Services

Kevin Kelley, president of Cleveland city council, speaks at a 2014 news conference.
Kevin Kelley, president of Cleveland city council, speaks at a 2014 news conference. (Nick Castele / ideastream)
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by Nick Castele

Cleveland city council Monday night passed a measure applying the city’s hotel tax to room-booking services such as Airbnb. Council also voted in favor of creating open-container districts for alcoholic beverages.

Up until now, Cleveland’s 3 percent bed tax applied to traditional hotels—but not to online services in which property owners can rent out rooms to temporary guests. This legislation applies the same tax to both. Airbnb and similar services will be responsible for collecting the money and turning it over to the city.

It’s not the only tax lodgers will have to pay. This year Cuyahoga County reached an agreement with Airbnb to extend its own 5.5 percent bed tax to the service. 

Meanwhile, another piece of legislation before council would allow bar customers to drink outside in select parts of the city. 

Businesses that want to create one of these “outdoor refreshment areas,” as they’re being called, must have an application approved by the mayor and city council. 

Cleveland is allowed to host only two of these areas in the city. 

Drinks can only be served in plastic bottles and cups. Businesses need the approval of neighboring property owners, and must draw up a sanitation plan. Applicants also must provide a million dollars in insurance against legal liability and property damage. 

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