Sharing Thoughts on the Sharing Economy

Posted September 28, 2015 by Joe Piasecki in Columns
By William Hicks

What do Airbnb, Uber and food trucks have in common? Well, as one local who asked to remain anonymous has told me, they’re taking business away from more “legitimate businesses” like hotels, taxi companies and restaurants.

He points out that hotels, taxi companies and restaurants have to pay certain taxes, fees and jump through various L.A. City hoops in order to conduct business, whereas food truck owners, for example, “can just pull up to a curb, drop a few coins in the meter and draw hungry customers away from nearby restaurants.”

What I found interesting was that this disgruntled resident struck me as a fiscal conservative and a staunch supporter of free enterprise, competition and capitalism.

If I were to play the role of the devil’s advocate, aren’t Airbnb, Uber, and food truck owners just pursuing the American dream?

These businesses are simply offering what the people want. Supply and demand, right?

In our system, you either have the best products and services … or the cheapest ones, the best business and marketing plan, good timing, or the best lobbyists.

I guess if the horse and buggy industry had better lobbyists, then climate change would be attributed more to methane than carbon!

In today’s economy, cost is playing more and more of a role. Unfortunately, money is scarce for a lot of people, so they are trying to save whenever possible or make a buck however possible.

Some people for whom money is not so scarce, however, don’t have a lot of empathy for these new entrepreneurs if such activities are negatively impacting their own lives in some way.

What really seemed to get this particular L.A. resident’s goat is Airbnb. His neighbor rents part of his home out to Airbnb guests but doesn’t seem to be too particular about what these guests do.

My unnamed friend’s concerns seemed pretty reasonable to me: college students partying in the wee hours of the night, barking dogs and lack of parking for his own guests. When he has attempted to communicate with his neighbor about these issues, he was met with a lack of compassion.

There always seems to be the one person who ruins it for the rest of the people. It only takes one individual to remove somebody else’s lunch from the office fridge to create a climate of suspicion and mistrust amongst coworkers.

On the flip side, I suppose mistrust is great for the video surveillance industry, not to mention the NSA!

Since the unnamed L.A. resident bought his home in an area zoned for single-family homes, he believes that the ability to rent out one’s home in these residential neighborhoods should be subject to approval by the neighbors who are immediately impacted. “Permission can be withdrawn if the property owner and their short term tenants create issues for their neighbors,” he said.

Again, this seems reasonable to me.

I would even go so far as to say that the property owner needs to prove that they have additional parking such as a driveway or an extra garage for the renters who have rental cars or else it’s a no go. Street parking should only be for residents, guests of residents and contractor/utility vehicles for the residential properties.

After all, we all know how outrageous parking has become in L.A., especially on the Westside!

Then again, it’s great if you own parking lots or have a job in parking enforcement.

The above conditions may come across as a bit too Big Brother for those who want to rent out their homes, but how is this any different from the rules and regulations set up by HOAs?

If you think about it, isn’t government set up like an HOA? We elect its members and we pay into it in order to keep things “a certain way.”

Well, here’s your chance to chime in on the Airbnb issue — there are three listening sessions coming up on Sept. 29, Oct. 1 and Oct. 3 in West L.A., North Hollywood and Downtown L.A., respectively.

Contact Councilmember Mike Bonin’s office at (213) 473-7011 or Director of Land Use and Planning Tricia Keane at for times and locations.

Always remember, we residents are the leaders, but we elect government servants to serve us. This can’t be overstated. The days of kings and queens are over!

The L.A. Department of City Planning has prepared a questionnaire to better understand your ideas and concerns about short term rentals:

This isn’t the Wild West where anything goes. In the big city, we need to be respectful and considerate of our neighbors. If you want to do whatever you want, then pick up and move to the country and most people won’t care what you do.

You may still have some government agencies and extremely religious people who care what you allow inside your own home, but that is another column altogether.

One Comment

    Brian Wald

    Couldn’t agree more.

    I am the recipient of this sort of thing directly occurring across from my home.
    It started July 3rd at 1:30 a.m. when I was awoken by noises of people speaking loudly. There were 4 cars out front of an empty home unloading into the 4 bedrooms….I counted the next day 15 people. They kept up the commotion for another hour. I closed my always open windows to try and get some sleep. It is now September 30th and I’ve counted no less that 24 separate rentals with an average of 2 cars for 3 nights and 4 people…in 87 days…that’s 96 guests, 72 days,, 44 cars,, 22 maid services to clean up after them. Four times the LAPD was called by me and my neighbors to demand they cease noise making & demand they stop smoking outside on the home’s balcony until 4 am.

    Last week I was awoken again only to discover that one young man and woman from the home were actually sitting on my front door step smoking cigarettes and speaking to someone on the phone.

    Needless to say I bought my home near the beach to enjoy the peace and serenity of the fresh air, quietude of a peaceful residential community and soft sound of the waves. Since this began I’ve not had my windows open any night for fear of losing sleep or being overcome by smoke wafting from the balconies.

    No short-term rentals unless we neighbors give an OK and the owner must be on the property during their stay. There must be an enforcement agency to follow up. If they get permission they must have a permit from the enforcement agency and pay the appropriate taxes. They should reclass the home as a commercial property and pay the commercial property tax rate vs. the residential rate. Finally if there are more than three enforcement violations they should be forbidden from this activity thereinafter.


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