Readers React

Airbnb: Don't call it 'sharing'

To the editor: Perhaps it is just semantics, but I bristle whenever I hear Airbnb (and other similar businesses) referred to as examples of our "sharing economy." ("Santa Monica council votes 7-0 to crack down on Airbnb," May 12)

This is not to take away from Airbnb and its benefits to all involved, but when I was in kindergarten I was taught by word and deed that sharing is not about profiting. An online community in which no money or goods are exchanged, but instead in which one opens his or her home to another, would be sharing.

There is nothing wrong with paying for the use of another's home, room, bicycle or car when it is not being used by the owner. But it is not sharing.

Jeff Bernhardt, Valley Glen

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To the editor: Many community groups and individuals support Santa Monica's ordinance banning vacation and home-sharing rentals of less than 30 days because of deep concerns about affordable housing. These concerns relate directly to issues of equity, diversity and inclusiveness.

When Airbnb's proponents claim that it is unwieldy or infeasible to enforce regulations on vacation rentals and home sharing, they fail to acknowledge that the company itself is the greatest barrier to enforcement. Drawing its revenues from booking fees charged to hosts and guests, it has resisted sharing financial information with cities and local communities, impeding efforts to collect business taxes on business transactions.

The issue isn't whether a city like Santa Monica is trying to stand in the way of technological progress, but whether a $20-billion hotel company such as Airbnb can shirk its corporate responsibilities to the cities and communities from which it draws its revenues.

Andrew Moss, Los Angeles

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To the editor: By effectively kicking Airbnb out of the city with its ban on short-term rentals, Santa Monica is squandering an opportunity.

Taxing short-term rentals could generate millions for low-income housing. These short-term rental units are not going to be available for low-income housing even if they are prohibited.

Instead, the city wastes money on intrusive enforcement — a lose-lose situation for all.

Thomas A. Nitti, Santa Monica

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To the editor: Cities are under pressure to increase density in order to house a growing population. Yet more of our housing is being converted to other uses.

In Costa Mesa, a city of about 110,000, we have hundreds of dwellings utilized for sober living homes that serve people not just from our own community but from all over the country. More homes are converting to Airbnb or other short-term rentals.

What effect do these conversions have on housing supply? How does this affect housing affordability? How does the conversion of housing stock to non-traditional uses affect a community's ability to provide housing for families and the local workforce?

These broader issues must be addressed as investors increasingly treat dwelling units as profit centers.

Sandra Genis, Costa Mesa

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