From Art to Action: Venetian Group Leads National Initiative on Regulating Short-Term Rentals

Zoom meetings inspired by Andrea Segre’s film Welcome Venice have evolved into a formal draft bill and a national conference in Rome on the subject of short-term rentals in city centers, set for 24 May. The initiative is attracting broad interest across Italy.

By Paul Rosenberg

20 May 2022

Art reflects life, and life often reflects it back. Such seems to have been the case with the film Welcome Venice by Andrea Segre, where a social issue’s (short-term rentals of residences to tourists) artistic representation has led to an energetic on-the-ground grassroots effort to take action on that issue. It began when a screening of the film spurred a group of individuals who represented a variety of associations in Venice to get together and talk about the problem. The idea of focusing on a single, actionable aspect of the broad and complex issue of tourism’s impact on residential life in cities across Italy soon emerged. Venice seemed a natural place to start, as it suffers from these effects as much or more than any other Italian city.

That was back in January. Fast forward to today, and the group, now dubbed Alta Tensione Abitativa, has produced a draft bill for the national regulation of short-term rentals, and it is serious about getting the bill presented in Parliament. The group has engaged in a concerted outreach effort to organizations, institutions and associations across Italy to involve the broadest range of input in further shaping the proposed bill, as well as to promote debate and discussion on this pressing issue, a goal that will be expanded upon considerably at the conference the group is co-sponsoring in Rome scheduled for next week on 24 May.

The significant interest in ATA’s initiative in general and the Rome conference in particular is a reflection of the dedication, professionalism and openness with which it is developing its program. The upcoming conference in Rome, with sponsors like Sapienza University, and a list of attendees that includes scholars, politicians, citizens and associations from across Italy – Naples, Milan, Genoa, Bologna, Rome – is fairly remarkable when you consider the group’s casual origins just months ago. An all-volunteer effort of this caliber, one that has avoided politics, posturing and sloganeering in favor of a serious and high-minded effort to produce a badly needed and viable legislative tool to regulate a very serious problem, is an inspiring example of grassroots organizing. It is also a testament to Venetians’ dedication to continuing to fight for practicable solutions to the problems of tourism in their city and elsewhere, even if the local Mayor claims their ideas are his own. That may or not be, but there is one crucial difference: ATA is translating those ideas into concrete action, while the Mayor has done nothing; he has yet to even schedule the meeting that ATA requested to discuss those ideas with him.

The program for the conference on 24 May, which will be streamed online, follows.

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Reinhabit the Center | Rome, 24 May 2022 | Ateneo Sapienza Conference Center | Via Salaria 113

Over the years the centers of many Italian cities have experience major transformations. In particular, excessive tourism, only temporarily suspended by the pandemic, has modified the social and economic fabric of these areas, compromising livability and the use of public spaces. At the same time, the diffusion of short-term rentals has led to the conversion of many residential properties into tourist lodgings. The impact of this phenomenon has been particularly disruptive in cities with high housing tension, which has already been experiencing notable difficulties in governing urban transformation, tourism and the real estate market.

The conference “Reinhabit the Center” is an occasion to relaunch the debate on these themes, starting from the need for better regulation of short-term rental. The conference will offer an opportunity for encounter among academics, administrators, citizens and politicians.

For those who cannot join us in Rome, the day will be livestreamed on the Alta Tensione Abitativa Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/AltaTensioneAbitativa).

Here is the specific link for the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/774579450155473

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Program

11:00 AM

  • Policies and tools for regulation of short-term rentals in European cities | Francesca Artioli, Université Paris Est.
  • Goals and outcomes of the regulation of short-term rentals in European cities | Filippo Celata and Gianluca Bei, Sapienza Università di Roma.
  • Reconstruction of the national and regional regulatory framework in Italy, and of the regulatory evolution in the European Union | Giacomo Menegus, Università di Macerata.
  • Reinhabit the center: urban policies and urban planning tools | Laura Fregolent, IUAV Venezia.

3:00 PM

  • Presentation and discussion of a draft bill for the regulation of short-term rentals | Osservatorio civico sulla casa e la residenza, Venezia.
  • Roundtable with city assessors, regional councilors, parliamentarians and other institutional members (the list is still being updated) | Introduction and coordination: Laura Lieto, Ass. urbanistica Napoli | The following have already confirmed their presence: Marta Bonafoni (Cons. regionale Lazio), Pierfrancesco Maran (Ass. casa e piano quartieri Milano), Elena Ostanel (Cons. regionale Veneto), Giancarlo Tancredi (Ass. urbanistica Milano), Simonetta Cenci (Ass. urbanistica Genova), Pierpaolo Baretta (Ass. bilancio e patrimonio Napoli), Orietta Vanin (senatrice).

6:00 PM

  • Presentation of the film “Welcome Venice” by Andrea Segre

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This initiative is promoted by Alta Tensione Abitativa, a committee that is promoting a bill to regulate short-term rentals, by the research group Short Term City, and by the MEMOTEF Department of Università La Sapienza Rome | info@altatensioneabitativa.it |


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