Maybe you've heard, but New York City is the next frontier Airbnb is hoping to conquer, and so far that effort is not looking nearly as easy as the company's San Francisco conquest has been. First there was this hit piece in New York Magazine last month headline: "The Dumbest Person in Your Building Is Passing Out Keys to Your Front Door!" And then New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman releases a report two weeks ago saying that most Airbnb rentals are illegal, and slaps the company with a subpeona. This week SF Weekly takes San Francisco to task for not being as skeptical or as confrontational with the company as New York has been.
As a former nine-year member of the Board of Supervisors and nine-year mayor, I know firsthand the merits of strong zoning laws. They protect residential areas so they can support families and be free of commercial activities that are not related to neighborhood needs.
This home-sharing legislation blurs those lines and provides for residential housing to be leased out for hotel use. As such, those of us who value the residential character of our neighborhoods and are invested in the city’s quality of life will see all of this washed away by a blanket commercialization of our neighborhoods.
I believe there is a compromise solution, but it does not involve handing over the key to the city to Airbnb and other short-term residential rental companies.
Feinstein urged Mayor Lee to veto the legislation, which he did not do, and this week there was a protest outside the Mayor's Office to stand against his signing of it.
The Weekly is quick to point out how Airbnb, Mayor Lee, Airbnb investor Ron Conway, and David Chiu are all in bed together on this and Chiu is benefiting from a huge donation to his Assembly campaign from Airbnb board member Reid Hoffman, as we reported earlier.
Has San Francisco made an error letting Airbnb sail on into legitimacy without questioning the hows and wheres of this situation? Will the company end up hurting our existing small bed and breakfasts or even big hotels? Will it end up causing the "blanket commercialization of our neighborhoods" as Feinstein suggests?
Regardless of how you answer, it's important to take note that our compatriots on the East Coast aren't taking this so lightly.