Why quashing short-term rentals is a zero sum gam for housing affordabitity


A bit off-topic to the environment, other than the housing of people.

Seattle’s data-blind rush to regulate Airbnb is a recipe for unintended consequences, according to this new article from Siteline. Worth reading as it relates to Port Townsend’s decisions on AirBnB. Author downplays the licensing/regulation side of the issue, IMHO.

Why Quashing Short-Term Rentals Is a Zero-Sum Game for Housing Affordability

5 Responses

  1. There is much to quibble with in the article, and the qualifications of the writer are dubious. Saying that “the research isn’t in” is disingenuous. Research on social policy can only suggest causality, not prove it, and it’s impossible to tease out the variables. The “heads in beds” efficiency argument doesn’t work for me. Should we fill the place up with rich visitors just so the bedrooms won’t be empty part of the time? The writer seems to favor less regulation and letting market forces run free, and unfettered markets cannot be expected to take our social aim of affordability into account. The fundamental question we need to answer is whether the buildings we call houses should be used solely as homes for people who want to live here — primary or secondary — or as investments in the overnight accommodation market. There may be a sensible compromise for people who want to provide accommodations in their homes.

  2. Most people migrating here are from CA.

  3. No kidding off topic. I’m living in the middle of Seattle’s gentrification explosion; I have been involved in Seattle land use policy and politics for decades. Impacts and regulation of AirBNB is a very small piece of the affordable housing puzzle. Sightline is OK on some issues, but IMO urban policy is not one of them.

    Speaking of “data-blind”, the author of the new AirBNB piece, Dan Bertolet, is one of the most extreme “new urbanists” around here. And he works for a large development company (http://www.via-architecture.com/about/our-team/dan-bertolet/), a fact not disclosed at the Sightline site. Since this issue is indeed not very relevant to Olympic Peninsula issues, contact me off line for further dialogue and info.

    • It’s only off topic due to the fact that it’s not directly related to Olympic Peninsula environmental issues. But we are struggling with AirBnB here in Port Townsend also. It’s seriously affecting our low income housing pool. We are experiencing our own gentrification of this town, and AirBnb is adding to the problem. It’s disturbing that Siteline did not force him to reveal his employer, who stands to benefit from development. The ‘new urbanists’ are very troubling, but have been around quite a while. I remember that there is a certain urbanist who hangs out at a cafe on Eastlake that has been destroying neighborhoods like the one I lived on near Greenlake for over a two decades. He has no understanding of what community means. Only focused on low rise development.

      • Thanks for your note. Here’s a post about ongoing Seattle activities: http://www.wallyhood.org/2016/06/mha-mayors-path-upzoning/

        The gentrification of cities large and small has been accelerating along with increasing inequity and growing instability of the global capitalist system. They are related trends: Large chunks of free-floating capital are seeking safe places to invest. Cities like London, San Francisco, Vancouver, and Seattle are magnets for money that cannot find more ‘productive’ activities. It’s not just the tech economy; it’s also the glass towers of luxury condos. Small and medium size coastal cities in California have for years been experiencing pressures similar to what you in P.T. are now getting as the waves of wealth flow out from South Lake Union.

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