Noah J Nelson on Tuesday, Jun. 24th
Airbnb, the “sharing economy” darling that lets anyone become a hotelier for a day (week, month, lifetime) is not known for sharing their data. That’s something that fair housing advocates and others who are concerned with how deeply the practice of temporarily renting out a home/apartment impacts housing stock in an era of high rents.
Although the company refuses to release numbers, a data analysis commissioned by The Chronicle found almost 5,000 San Francisco homes, apartments, and private or shared rooms for rent via Airbnb. Two-thirds were entire houses or apartments, showing how far Airbnb has come from its couch-surfer origins, and contradicting its portrayal as a service for people who rent out a spare room and interact with guests.
Look: I’ve known more than one person who has managed to make ends meet thanks to Airbnb, Lyft and their cousins. The core idea isn’t all that hideous, but it is becoming increasingly obvious that so long as these practices are left unregulated they will trend towards behaving like industries and not as ways for people to eek out a little extra cash. That can have all kinds of unintended effects: like turning the already tourist-centric San Francisco into a city where no one really lives.