The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
I'm an early adopter and enthusiast for the Sharing Economy, first as an Airbnb host, and later as an Uber and Lyft driver. Airbnb has been a huge blessing in my life. Instead of renting my spare bedroom to a full-time roommate/boarder, I'm able to host guests sometimes, and still keep my guest room available to visiting friends and family at other times. My Airbnb income helps me pay down my mortgage and save for my own travel and discretionary spending (which is money I'm putting back into the economy). There are also intangible benefits for me and my guests: I've enjoyed meeting new people from around the US and the world, extending hospitality, and sharing my knowledge about my neighborhood with travelers. I like to think I provide a more personalized experience to my guests than they might get in a hotel. Airbnb provides a valuable option to travelers looking for a unique experience. I understand that I'm in direct competition with hotels, and that many cities and municipalities think I should be paying taxes like the hotels. I actually think that would be fair, but I'm concerned about exactly how that gets done. I want the future to be a thriving, regulated, and taxed sharing economy, not one that is regulated to the point of being crushed. As you decide what the future of this space should look like, please approach it from the perspective of trying to make this space thrive legally and safely, so that it can continue to provide income to the middle class, unique options for travelers, and contributions to the local economy. One of my concerns is that my HOA has antiquated regulations on the books that were written long before the sharing economy came into existence, which might disallow my sharing activities if it were reported to them. I hope you can provide a framework that helps cities, municipalities, and HOAs recognize the value, and update their rules to allow it.