You are reading

Exclusive: Backstory on LIC resident with AirBnB Vans

Jonathan Powley

Jonathan Powley

July 27, 2015 Staff Report

The Long Island City resident who gained notoriety last week after it was reported that he was renting vans in Hunters Point to tourists for as little as $22 a night got his start in the business selling Christmas trees.

Jonathan Powley, 25, entered into the hospitality business after forming a Long Island City-based Christmas tree company—called Christmas Tree Stand-Up–where he would sell trees and holds live comedy shows at his tree stands.

Last year, one of the vehicles he used for the Christmas tree business broke down—a 1979 camper.

“It sat for a while and then I decided to spruce it up and list it on AirBnB–for visitors to the city who want a more affordable alternative to traditional apartments and hotels. Well, the listing took off, and I’ve met the most amazing travelers over the last few months.”

Pawley has since expanded his fleet to have at least three campers/vans in the neighborhood and rents them out for between $39 and $69 per night. One of those vehicles is a taxi cab minivan.

On one of his recently listings, Powley posted on AirBnB: “Super spacious! All brand new furnishings!! Only 3 Stops from Times Square, Less than 10 minutes to 50 major attractions. Located in Super Safe Community. Quiet at night time. Best Views of NYC!!! Sleeps 2 comfortably.”

The reviews his campers and his personal service on AirBnB have been glowing.

“It was one of the best experiences of my life! Just the view and the park across the road are totally worth it plus the van is lovely and full of nice details, a must do if you like this kind of stuff!” wrote Monica, a guest from Pennsylvania. “I actually got to meet Jonathan and he’s very nice, attentive and helpful.”

Powley said that he enjoys showing tourists the neighborhood—especially the views from the Hunters Point waterfront parks.

He said he participates in park clean ups, so “it’s a real joy to share a nice view of this park with out-of-towners.”

He said there have been ups and downs—such as when a guest got lost looking for a van or when another claimed the van appeared small.

“My latest addition—the Taxi Cab minivan—is my favorite. People from all over the world have asked about it. It’s got that cool factor that really intrigues visitors,” he said.

Powley said he is in the process of shooting a documentary called “One Camper: One Hundred Stories.”

He said the documentary will be based on a series of interviews that he has had with guests who have stayed with him. “I’ll probably submit it to the Queens World Film Festival next year, although I’m looking at other possibilities too.”

Renting the vans is legal since in New York City there are no laws prohibiting people from sleeping in vehicles. However, tourists who do rent one of his vans/campers do have to find bathrooms and showering facilities elsewhere.

Powley said he expects to be out again selling Christmas Trees again this winter and is continuing to do standup comedy in New York.


email the author:


Click for Comments 
miami airbnb

Thank you! I book houses on AirBnb for all my trips and I advise it to everyone. I even created a website:, with all the information translated to all languages of the world and valid coupons. The translation is still in progress; contact me if you can help! Please, do not delete this comment as it helps people around the Earth learn more about AirBnb and get information in their language.


Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

QBP Richards, advocates rally to demand Mayor Adams restore funding to City’s libraries

May. 17, 2024 By Gabriele Holtermann

A rally was held at the Queens Public Library at Forest Hills on May 16, during which Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Queens Public Library President and CEO Dennis Walcott, union reps and library advocates called on Mayor Eric Adams to reverse the proposed $58.3 million budget cuts to the New York Public Library (NYPL), the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL), and the Queens Public Library (QBL) for Fiscal Year 2025, which begins on July 1, 2024.

Queens elected officials secure $70 million from New York State Budget for school safety equipment in religious and independent schools

May. 17, 2024 By Anthony Medina

Religious and independent schools throughout the city will soon receive additional funding for school safety equipment, thanks to Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi and State Senator Michael Gianaris, who, after extensive advocacy efforts, successfully secured $70 million from the New York State Budget for 2024-25 for Non-Public School Safety Equipment (NPSE) grants.