Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

Whenever companies invent radical new ways of making life easier, there’s a good chance someone will kvetch about how hazardous the new way is and/or how rudely inconvenient for those wedded to old ways.

That’s true when it comes to smartphone apps that helps users buy rides outside the usual regulated-taxi context (as I’ve discussed here and here). It’s also true in the case of Airbnb, whose app connects renters and home owners.

Airbnb and other companies are fighting to reform San Francisco’s restrictive housing laws, which have helped inflict one of the most hellish housing markets in the country. The Fair to Share San Francisco website says that the town’s housing laws are “outdated” — which understates the case, since the strictures weren’t valid to begin with. Regulators prohibit San Francisco residents from subletting their residences for fewer than thirty days.

This makes things tough for an app designed to broker short-term rentals.

Airbnb has also been hassled in New York State, where it has been forced to turn over some data about its users to the attorney general as prelude to turning over even more data about users the AG decides may be breaking the law.

It is indeed unfair to outlaw you from peacefully using your own property as you wish. If you live in the San Francisco area, you can help change Fog City’s smoggy housing laws by signing a petition at the Fair to Share site.

Strike a blow for Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

Original photo by Dave Alter, “Lombard Street San Francisco,” some rights reserved.

By: Redactor


  1. Jay says:

    As a real estate broker (I DO NOT DO RENTALS) I have some issues that perhaps you are not seeing.

    1. In condos- could end up with the equivalent of the condo becoming a motel, without the checks (however minimal) (not counting lost tax revenue); and owners could end up –for the money–doing really short term rentals (1 to 2 hours say; long enough for a quickie or a drug or other type of illegal activity). (Trysts not being, as far as I know illegal).

    But no check on who the renter is.

    people go to and buy condos ( with minor exceptions) do so for the security (or thought of same) that the other people there are also decent.

    Many of these people probably are; but the entire rationale is out the window, with this.


    2. Neighborhood stability goes down the tubes–having a transient neighborhood.

    Other reasons, and I am not familiar with San Francisco, (nor do i want to be) but this sounds like a bad idea.

  2. Jay: If “becoming a transient neighborhood” actually is a problem for adjacent owners, condominium association agreement rules (which are a condition of purchase) solves it.

    There’s no need to involve government.

  3. Jay says:

    True, and as a real estate broker, I know that-but, the owners (I have seen this) flaunt the rules; the renters are not renters but relatives; etc. Condos, perhaps a bad example.

    But, take residential neighborhoods- those with a very transient population (of short term renters)-there is one about 15 miles from where I live- junky is a nice word for it. Yet more stable neighborhoods, with (even if rented, not the short term renters)-stable and better kept.

    I do not know the situation in SF. But, as Madison said, (if not exact, close to it) -“if men were angels, there would be no need for government”. (Or laws).

    But people are NOT angels.

    I personally do not want to live next to a home that is in effect an unlicensed motel or hotel or brothel-because there are no rules regarding zoning or rentals.

    SF ( a bastion of illiberal liberalism and progressiveness run amok) could have draconian rules. It also, from what I have read and heard, has a fairly limited supply of housing. And, from what I have heard ( but not verified) strict rent control. The latter is probably the biggest obstacle, as it is in New York City, where i sued to live.

    I don’t like government, but need some -my views.

  4. MoreFreedom says:

    “I know that-but, the owners (I have seen this) flaunt the rules”

    Hey, if the president isn’t following the law, why should anyone else?

    If you’re worried about neighborhood quality, aren’t the owners of the units being rented out also concerned about it? After all, it affects the value for them as well.

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