It is about protecting its own racket.
I live in Barcelona, Spain, and two days ago, the strangest thing arrived in the mail: a sealed, unaddressed envelope bearing the blue stamp of the Barcelona city authorities. Inside was a sheet of paper with five shortish paragraphs explaining the Council’s decision to intensify its crackdown on “illegal” tourist apartments in the city.
Under a 2012 regional law, any apartment rented to visitors in Catalonia must be logged in the province’s Tourism Registry and have a permit. Unlicensed apartments “promote speculation, the underground economy, and could even threaten the harmonious and coexistence of resident communities” in the city, the letter warns.
In the last paragraph, the council urges local Barcelona residents to snitch on any neighbors who they believe are running illegal tourist accommodation operations in their buildings. Residents are invited to cross-check their neighbors’ apartments against an open-access database of the city’s registered tourist flats, and if their suspicions are confirmed, they can denounce their neighbors on a free, around-the-clock hot line.
Judging by how many of my friends and acquaintances have received the same letter, it’s safe to assume that it was sent out across the city. In other words, hundreds of thousands of Barcelona residents have just been asked to rat on their neighbors…
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