Consider The Alternatives

There has been a lot of hullabaloo about Airbnb here in NYC over the past few weeks. The NY Post had a field day using Airbnb as a punching bag for a week or so. It made for good tabloid media but lacked a honest discussion of the pros and cons of Airbnb and all that comes with it.

I’ve lived in NYC for over thirty years. It’s a very dense urban living environment. As the Gotham Gal likes to say, “we live on top of each other.” And clearly having your neighbors renting out their apartment to folks visiting NYC for days or weeks at a time is problematic. I think Airbnb has a lot of work to do here in NYC to educate folks about what the service is actually all about, who most of the 40,000 hosts here in NYC are, and how the service works to protect people.

Let’s take two relatively unknown aspects of Airbnb.

– identity checks – many hosts will not rent to people on Airbnb who do not have their identity checked and verified. Airbnb provides this identity check service to the hosts and a large percentage of guests on Airbnb are identity checked before they show up and rent a place.

– smoke and carbon monoxide alarms – Airbnb requires hosts to have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their homes. if a host does not have one, Airbnb provides it to them.

Now let’s compare that to the alternatives. Do hotels verify the identity of their guests? Do hotels provide smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in every room? Do apartments rented out on Craigslist verify the identity of their guests? Do apartments rented out on Craigslist provide smoke and carbon monoxide alarms?

My point is this. You can attack Airbnb for all sorts of things. But consider the alternatives. Do we want hosts putting their apartments on Craigslist instead of Airbnb? Do we want tourists who only have $150/night to spend on housing in NYC to rent a room in a flophouse or the apartment of a photographer who is away for a few weeks on a photo shoot?

I think the better approach would be to have a conversation with Airbnb’s executives about how to make the service work better for New Yorkers. By making Airbnb work better here, we get the best of both worlds. A safer alternative than Craigslist and a more affordable alternative than high priced hotels. My hope is that cooler heads prevail and we find a happy medium that works for everyone.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Scott Barnett

    I was just discussing this with a friend yesterday. Isn’t another part of the issue the collection of tax revenue from these rentals? That AirBnB needs to be regulated like a hotel?

    1. fredwilson

      That will happen. Airbnb has already agreed to that but a settlement is caught up in politics at the moment

      1. huckabubble

        They’ve ‘agreed’ to pay hotel taxes?? My goodness. Aren’t they gracious and generous!Have they ‘agreed’ to pay income taxes, too, or are they still haggling with the IRS about whether they face that obligation?

  2. andyswan

    Just media carrying the tax man’s water as usual.Empowered individuals they fear nothing new to see here

    1. pointsnfigures

      Yup. And the hotel lobby.

    2. JamesHRH

      Your lack of communal interest keeps you in the fog here.We share common areas; that gives me a say in how you utilize your property, whether its renting out your condo or letting a noxious weed grow 6′ from my prize hydrangeas.

      1. andyswan

        Sounds like you and I need to have a talk then… Why invite Uncle Sam?

        1. JamesHRH

          Because modern society does not believe in might makes right.

          1. andyswan

            Then why are you calling in the only guy allowed to carry a gun in NYC?

          2. JamesHRH

            ?If you and I don’t agree, I am calling a mediator or a lawyer. Do they get to pack hear in the NYC?Regardless, whomever gets my call, that makes ABnB growth pretty sticky.

          3. andyswan

            I meant the gov’t. Agree… I don’t want a hotel next door.. That’s why I would have agreements with my neighbors, rather than regulations limiting everyone

          4. ErikSchwartz

            But in this case the neighbor is ignoring the agreement. Most CCNRs limit short term rentals. So what is the remedy? Civil court?

          5. andyswan

            Either that or take care of it yourself. My neighbor would have a really difficult time getting good ratings when he rents out…

          6. Tkr

            Uhh, valid laws and regulations passed by a duly elected representative government body are agreements with your neighbors.

          7. andyswan

            Oh cool didn’t realize we all agreed to drop bombs on Iraq and spy on citizens. What’s the fuss about?

          8. pointsnfigures

            Coase would argue that inviting the govt is incorrect.

          9. kidmercury

            #ohsnap +1

        2. ErikSchwartz

          We already did have a talk. The talk is codified in the covenants, codes and restrictions document that we both signed when we purchased units.

          1. andyswan


  3. Anne Libby

    Are these really the only alternatives — Airbnb, or tourists being victimized on Craigslist?Maybe Airbnb really just doesn’t scale.

    1. fredwilson

      There are other services like Airbnb already. There could be more over time. They will face similar issues. So it is worth figuring out the right regulatory model now

      1. Anne Libby

        What do you think of the (proposed?) solution in SF?

        1. fredwilson

          I don’t know what it is

          1. Anne Libby

            Can’t remember where I read a pretty detailed proposal, along the lines of paying the tax, limiting the days that an unattended property can be rented, “hosts” register with the city…Maybe someone else has the lowdown.

          2. JLM

            .The People’s Republic of Austin, TX is regulating the mojo out of AirBnB.JLM.

          3. Anne Libby

            “Regulation” is a SWOT-analysis 101 item.There’s no crying in baseball.

          4. JLM

            .Yes, but there are bench clearing brawls and Nolan Ryan can hit you in the ear with a fastball.JLM.

          5. Anne Libby


          6. William Mougayar

            Is it working well?

          7. JLM

            .No, huge barriers to entry. Jump in prices by 30-40%. Regulation almost never makes things easier.JLM.

          8. StreetEYE (@streeteye)

  …collect the 14% hotel tax, can only rent maximum of 25% of the time, carry insurance etc.

          9. fredwilson

            i think something like that could work here in NYCi assume the only rent 25% of the time applies to multi unit dwellings and not single family homes

          10. LE

            Why? There can definitely be disturbance from people renting a house next door. Vehicle parking, in and out, visitors, noise (not everyone has an acre). Some houses are twins, attached, townhomes etc.Ever hear about the wars in South Philly over parking?Even in typical suburbs when neighbors are out jogging or walking the dog people get used to who is typically around and feel unsafe if they see a car they don’t recognize in many places.

          11. huckabubble

            And you would be mistaken. The SF proposal allows rentals 365 days a year and rezones every residential neighborhood to permit short-term rentals as a matter of right. It’s DOA.

      2. sigmaalgebra

        Gee, I always thought that the “right regulatory model” had long since been figured out and was based on some white envelopes filled with some green stuff! And now there has been some good progress to something much better based on some things called ‘blockchains’! :-)!

        1. pointsnfigures

          You will know Bitcoin is for real when Alderman accept it in Chicago.

          1. sigmaalgebra

            Ah, you’ve watched some of the same movies I have!Some people say, and not just in the movies, “The old ways are best.”!

  4. tkr

    Excellent use of logical fallacies. But you should throw in a strawman for good measure.

    1. fredwilson

      What would that be?

  5. William Mougayar

    Old laws clashing with innovation – that’s a common refrain.Same thing is happening in Quebec & BC, unsurprisingly the 2 most “socialistic” provinces, where the government likes to be in your face. It may be about collecting new fees from the renters, more than concerns about safety.

    1. awaldstein

      It’s more than that.You don’t live in a building with hundreds of people nested together.Too easy to say bring it on when you are impacted in the safety and style of how you live.I say bring it on but not without oversight.

      1. William Mougayar

        OK, then let them agree on something. Reality is that both sides have to come to the table as partners, not as adversaries. In NYC, BC or anywhere in the world, for that matter.

        1. awaldstein

          Yes and no.AirBnb needs to take the leadership role here. If they don’t they and the city loose. But if they loose someone will simply build a smarter more vertical version of this. The behavior is real.

      2. LE

        You don’t live in a building with hundreds of people nested together.Agree. It’s quite common for people who don’t have the same interests or experience the same pleasure or pain to not understand or be able to empathize with someone else’s point of view as far as what is reasonable or fair in a given situation.My dad was the king of this type of thing. God knows the number of times he would say “what’s the big deal it doesn’t bother me” and not acknowledge what someone else experiences.

        1. awaldstein

          The realities of urban vertical lifestyle is a specific one.impacts immense numbers of people in very compact areas.Been going on since day one. The Navajo Indians (from memory) had a community law system about building so that you never blocked the sun from the people around you.

  6. awaldstein

    I’m a supporter of the service and hyper aware of the complexity of the city.What if it’s a walk up and there’s retail on a few floors that has less than good security on the stairwell? What if the residential is in of itself illegal and not insured. In a flood zone and uninsurable?Ever get an employee bonded who has to make deliveries with an access code to a retailer pre opening?I think the identity piece, the insurable liability piece AND a flexibility is solving issues (ala Amazon style) are the three pieces to attack.Do I want people moving in and out weekly on my floor?Not really. Is there room for a Plat type of AirBnB that makes me more comfortable with some bylaws I can buy into–w/o a doubt.Important topic.

  7. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    Is NY unique in the issues that it is having with Airbnb or is that a common problem with most big cities. I live in Toronto and I don’t recall hearing too many issues with Airbnb with the government.

    1. William Mougayar

      But in Quebec and BC, they are voicing similar issues as NYC. Google it.

  8. WA

    Perhaps it’s a lost revenue issue at higher room tax revenues for the city, PAC activity for the hotel and tourist industry behind the scenes hand in hand with hotel sector stake and shareholders. What do Starwood Wyndam Marriott Hilton benefit from this-and what influence do they have in raising barriers of entry? Perhaps a few points of Porter behind the scenes? Music store and bookstore landscape futures can rattle a lot of industry’s nerves.

    1. fredwilson

      the tax issues are a red herring. airbnb has already agreed to collect the hotel tax in NYC. but that settlement is tied up in politics

      1. Jason Clampet

        Airbnb says it would like to collect hotel taxes on the behalf of hosts and guests, but nothing has been put forward in Albany that could make this happen. Right now it’s just PR.

        1. fredwilson

          behind closed doors it has

          1. Jason Clampet

            Yes, but nothing moves forward until amendment/bill gets a sponsor, gets introduced, etc. There are multiple dependencies, too, including revising existing laws so that they’re not collecting tax on actions that are often in violation of the short-term rental laws.This speaks to Airbnb’s growing pains. Up to know they’ve been moving quickly because of great product/user experience. But know they have to get messy with politics to get to the next step.

  9. JimHirshfield

    Am I running a restaurant if I have all of you over for dinner?Am I running an auto repair shop if I change your oil?Should you be taxed on these products/services?No, no, no.

    1. JamesHRH

      You are if you are charging me: its called curbing & catering.

      1. JimHirshfield

        Define “charging”. If you bring two bottles of wine, is that you compensating me?

        1. JamesHRH

          charging = payment based on hourly, daily rate or a level of satisfaction being met.Me bringing you wine is only to get you generating more puns.

          1. JimHirshfield

            I pay for lots of stuff that I’m not satisfied with…so, maybe I should whine more?

    2. Richard

      It depends, if you are cooking cabbage everynight, buying 55 gallons drums of oil, you probably are?

      1. JimHirshfield

        Cabbage? No. Not looking for a ‘slaw suit, thanks.

    3. PhilipSugar

      You actually have hit on the crux of the argument. If I have a friend over and they give me a gift am I operating a hotel? No.If I have 50 people over my house every night and I serve dinner and charge $100 a head am I running a restaurant? Yes.If I have ten cars and two mechanics in my garage am I operating an auto repair shop? Yes.If I rent out my apartment 150 times a year to people I don’t know and make $20k (like the guy in the NYTimes article) am I running a hotel/bed and breakfast? Yes.Why do we regulate and tax each of them? Now as somebody that wants smaller government and lower taxes in general, I might agree we need to regulate and tax them less and make the rules easier.However, just like letting Wall Street regulate itself, I know that’s not the answer.I could really start a good political argument if I started putting in social issues and lifestyle choices, but I’m not going to go there.

      1. JimHirshfield

        Yeah, I get the difference between having a guest over one night versus having someone different over 150 nights per year. But where’s the line drawn?Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying anarchy or self-reg, but there is a line that needs to be drawn somewhere.

        1. Antone Johnson

          Traditionally the line has been drawn at payment. Commerce is what makes an operation commercial. I don’t charge houseguests a penny, nor do I charge friends or family for housesitting while we’re out of town.”Sharing economy” is a lovely utopian buzz-phrase, but in reality, services like Airbnb turn millions of individuals into commercial businesses. That’s fantastic for entrepreneurial types, but most ordinary folks are totally unprepared for it — from being unaware that short-term subletting is a breach of the lease that could get them evicted, to being unaware that their residential homeowners’ or renters’ insurance policy excludes liability coverage for losses such as personal injury if a home is being operated as a business.I’ve been cynically waiting to see what happens when someone is paralyzed or killed from a tragic slip-and-fall accident and the inevitable personal injury suit results. Either (1) the insurer pays, and learns to make sure all policies going forward explicitly exclude coverage for paying guests (if they don’t already) (2) the owner of the unit loses his life savings in a seven-figure settlement or judgment, or (3) the owner/occupant doesn’t have that kind of assets, files personal bankruptcy and the paraplegic is left with no recourse.

          1. JimHirshfield

            Thanks. I get your point.I don’t mean to be pedantic, but I’m not sure commerce alone is it. Is my daughter running a commercial enterprise when she babysits once every 2 months? I don’t think so, although I can see why some would say yes and that it needs to be taxed.

          2. PhilipSugar

            Commerce is when you take payment for goods or services from somebody you don’t know.My son cutting my neighbors yards or shoveling? Not really commerce.You know this is defined many places as a pilot an acquaintance can share gas money, but you can’t make money or advertise.I think people try and make this as difficult as possible because they don’t want to be regulated.I’ll go the other extreme. What if I open a full on strip club next door to you, gosh I’m really only sharing in half the tips, that’s not commerce, its my place I should be able to do what I want. How do you feel?

          3. JimHirshfield

            I’m not trying to make it difficult. But it is.

          4. PhilipSugar

            Very well said.

      2. LE

        Usually this is almost certainly done by the nuisance factor. And if neighbors complain, how many, how often. If it only happens once and 10 people complain nothing is going to be done since it’s only a single event. And nothing needs to be done really the nuisance has stopped.Otoh if it happens with any frequency that increases the complaints and the compliance. So that’s when action in theory should happen, right?We have a neighbor that is running a business out of the house and has employees. And multiple people have complained. Trucks (is a tree contractor) employees congregating etc. Manages to totally skirt below the radar has been going on for years.Last I spoke to one of my work office neighbors who is mayor of a small town near the small town I am in. And he knows the mayor of our town (they are all part time and get paid $5000 per year or something like that). So he says to me (like he is doing me a favor which he was) ok he is going to take care of it. He’s on it.Next thing he gets back to me and says “ok a hearing is scheduled but doesn’t matter since the guy is moving out!”.Of course there is no hearing (because the guy is moving out!) but the guy doesn’t move out. What a surprise.So I say to the mayor (my neighbor) “I bet what happened was the zoning guys stopped by and he gamed them by telling them he was moving out knowing he wasn’t. And they fell for it” (and they did QED).

  10. reggiedog

    Identity checks as a feature is kind of disingenuous compared to a staffed reception desk, security personnel and cameras don’t ya think ?

  11. btrautsc

    Taxing the behemoth (40,000 room organic hotel) that is AirBnB in NYC seems like the main goal of the city… is that not the case?personally I’ve always been concerned about the soft side of airbnb – let’s call it neighbor relations. Right now, my wife is against renting our place on airbnb.. I bring it up roughly once a quarter. I am for it, but sometimes I wonder how I would feel if our neighbors homes were on airbnb consistently, and I’m not sure. Density like NYC adds a severe multiple to that.maybe i’m a luddite on this issue – or maybe there are more complex psychological aspects going on. For some there is little second thought renting their apartment to others, or even their second home. For my wife, this is our house, where we live, and will probably keep for a long time.

    1. awaldstein

      NY is as vigorous as it gets in taxing its businesses.As an example, the fines for not complying with things like putting very low wage employees on payroll are company shutting.This is not going to change.

    2. fredwilson

      i think NYC will get Airbnb to collect the hotel tax in NYCi agree with you about the “soft side of Airbnb”that’s where it needs to win the hearts and minds of NY’ers

      1. Richard

        Wait for the first “bed bug” story to hit the tabloids.

        1. JamesHRH


    3. JamesHRH

      I agree that Abnb has two battle fronts: the tax man & the psychographic segmentation of nieghbours.Facts are one argument; opinion is another; value based arguments are not arguments – they are differences. That’s a major hurdle.

  12. Mark Gavagan

    One way to think of how the law in NYC should evolve is to put ourselves and our families in the shoes of BOTH an Airbnb renter (renting out their space to others), and an Airbnb renter’s next door neighbor.The renter’s perspective is pretty easy to understand, including private property rights and economic opportunity (or in some cases, necessity).From a neighbor’s perspective, how would you feel having 50 or 100 strangers per year renting right next door to you, with full access to your building, without you being able to make any decisions about it or enjoying any of the economic benefit? Would you feel less secure? Would your home feel more like a hotel or hostel?Security is a legitimate concern. While not perfectly addressed by identity checks, they seems like an effective measure. I wonder why 100% of guests aren’t identity-checked, instead of just a large percentage of them.I don’t honestly know what the law should be, but I don’t think it’s a simple or easy decision.Disclosure: I’m an active Airbnb guest and have been very happy with them.

    1. awaldstein

      Security checks alone are not enough.Building by building buy in is the only way this can happen.I want a say in what happens in my building. If this is not there, bylaws will be made building by building and just shut it out.

      1. Anne Libby

        Building by building — that’s where the service might just fail to scale.True communities are filled with all of the contradictions, messiness, multiple agendas and so forth that exist in human relationships. (Anyone been to a community board meeting?)One can very easily opt out of online “Communities as a Service.” Not so true for real life.

        1. awaldstein

          Agree…but NY more than any other city in this part of the world is completely vertical.I’m with you but I also know that items like fire, noise, crime and the like in a city where space is what $2000+ plus a foot for residential is not something that will get addressed without intent.

        2. JamesHRH


      2. LE

        “Building by building buy in” But if you are in a building (and I don’t know if you own or rent) you had a contract when you moved in (or purchased) that stated very clearly what could and what could not happen in that building that you relied on when you decide to buy or rent.If, for example, a majority percentage of your neighbors doesn’t care about your cat (you have a cat, Sam, right?) and decides to allow big dogs that might scare your cat (or parties on Thursday night) that doesn’t make changing those rules right. In my opinion. In other words simply because a building votes to change something doesn’t mean it should be able to vote to change something.

    2. fredwilson

      i have suggested to Airbnb that they do identity checks on all of their guests. i think they may do that in time. it does impact the user experience (need to go through the identity check flow as part of the booking process). but i think they could do it post booking and before the stay period. that would reduce the user experience hit and be a significant increase to the overall security of the service.

      1. LE

        Identity checks are not the same as annoyance and disturbance checks.

        1. mlr3000

          I think that’s the key. A huge, huge number of people will pass a criminal background / identify check but still be a giant pain in the ass. Hotels verify identify pretty generally (I don’t recall getting allowed in without an ID in a very long time), but they enforce the “pain in the ass” part with a security staff.

  13. Tom Labus

    The discussion needs to do an end run around the Post so that’s it’s for real. Airbnb needs some PR and political help to present themselves in the right context or they could get whacked

    1. fredwilson


  14. JLM

    .The real argument here is big hotels don’t want the competition. There is no amount of regulation to accommodate that request as the real objective is a quick death.As to the balance of it — classic individual property rights v collective property rights.There is always a solution but one size does not fit all.This will get very, very, very messy.JLM.

    1. Andrew Kennedy

      That’s a bingo

    2. fredwilson

      yes, but the high end hotels don’t mind Airbnb. they are doing fine in NYC it’s the low end hotels, Holiday Inn and the like, that are losing visitors to Airbnb

      1. JLM

        .Fair play.Probably more than a bit location driven. Perfect Daughter lives in Chelsea so my wife frequents nearby AirBnB locations. She would otherwise be staying at a very nice hotel.JLM.

      2. LE

        I suspect that some of those people renting on airbnb and getting a taste of NYC might return as actual paying guests once they can afford and/or have families.

      3. PhilipSugar

        Nor do the high end people that live in really nice places mind Airbnb. Their neighbors aren’t going to rent out multi-million dollar apartments.

      4. mlr3000

        Sorry, Fred, but is there any actual evidence that these hotels are losing visitors to Airbnb? The rates for the Manhattan Holiday Inns this week — last minute reservations — are $216 on the low end, $446 on the high end (lowest rates at various properties). It’s hard to believe these reflect a “loss of visitors.”

    3. Matt A. Myers

      Where there is change, there is opportunity.

    4. ErikSchwartz

      AirBnB has done a terrific PR job in appearing scrappy and little.In reality they have twice the market cap of Hyatt.AirBnB IS the big hotel chain.

      1. JLM

        .Well played.JLM.

  15. pointsnfigures

    Wait until someone says AirBnB is racist. I heard an NPR piece this weekend about how Uber, Hailo, Lyft and the rest of the sharing economy were racist because of P2P ratings. Their contention is because a driver could see the race of a person (or if they were disabled) before they picked them up, they were avoiding rides.If the lobby loses the hearts and minds of NYers on this thrust, no doubt the next one is coming.

    1. Guest

      That makes the drivers racist not the service. That could happen just as easily with a regular cab.

      1. Richard

        If you don’t think racism shows its ugly head in this space, you are being a little naive.

      2. Angus

        That could happen just as easily with a regular cab.And it does. I’m not naive enough to think that Lyft, Uber and other ride-sharing services are going to fix racism, but they at least increase the supply of available ride services.That seems like good thing for communities that are perpetually under-served by existing medallion based taxi systems. (Isn’t that why illegal jitney cabs exist, which the authorities are always trying to shut down?)

    2. mlr3000

      Uber drivers cannot see what their passengers look like before accepting pickups. They can only see a name and star rating.

    3. Antone Johnson

      Isn’t it the reverse? Passengers can see available Uber cars in their vicinity. You can pick a preferred driver if its someone you’ve ridden with and liked. But that does leave the door open (sorry) for passengers to discriminate based on the name and/or picture of the driver. Of course, it’s not really fair to blame the company or product for individuals’ prejudices — but someone will always be there to blame it.

  16. JamesHRH

    The dark forces of NIMBY are against you young Padowan.The Force of the Shared Economy may not be enough

    1. huckabubble

      I see money changing hands. I see (sleazy) middlemen taking cuts. I see renting. Where’s the ‘sharing?’

  17. Harry DeMott

    As someone who is ostensibly in the real estate business in NYC (my family is – therefore I am), we have done our best to limit AirBnB in the walkup buildings we are involved with in Chelsea.It’s not that I am opposed to the service on principle, but it is just too hard to monitor the comings and goings of very short term renters in buildings whose security consists of a 2 door buzzer system. No doorman. No security cameras – etc… a typical NYC shared brownstone experience.Living in NYC is tough enough as it is – but if you are to have the “quiet enjoyment” of your apartment as a long term tenant, then it is hard to be subjected to a revolving door of tourists or short term travelers next door – above you or below you.It creates more wear and tear on the hallways (cases bumping into painted walls), on carpets, and on the building in general.All in all a tough situation.The service is great – and there is no reason I can think of for people not to be able to rent out their own homes – but in NYC the idea of your own home is somewhat nebulous. Renters don’t own their homes, and almost all standard NYC rental contracts have a so-sublet clause in them.Likewise, co-op shareholders do not “own” their own homes. They own shares in a co-op corporation and enter into proprietary leases with the corporation for the use of their apartment.Even condo owners, who do have title to their units, enter into agreements with the neighbors to set rules for how the building will run.I agree that much has been made of the hotel industry and its desire not to have competition – and the attendant loss of tax revenue by the city – but I think the real question is one of property usage – who has what rights – and how far do they extend.

    1. fredwilson

      the issues you list here Harry are the issues that I think are the most important and the ones I have encouraged Airbnb to focus on. the other stuff will take care of itself if they can make the service work in NYC along the lines of the concerns you have cited

      1. Harry DeMott

        It is very much about expectations. When you check into a hotel, you expect that neither you nor the front desk will know too much about your neighbor, and that if that neighbor becomes problematic – you will have recourse by calling the 24 hour manager on premise. the hotel expects that guests will not damage rooms or hallways – and takes credit cards on site to insure against this. AirBnB needs to solve for these sort of expectational issues to work in the already highly shared living economy which is NYC.

        1. CJ

          How do you ensure against damages in a common area where it might not be possible to identify the perpetrator? . Damages to the unit has already been solved by airbnb.

      2. Twain Twain

        This is a tricky one. Let me share this experience because I did rent from a NY photographer who was away and I had to interact with their neighbor who didn’t know the photographer was sub-letting. Nevertheless, the neighbor opened the main communal door for me.

      3. john murphy

        thumbs up!

    2. JLM

      .Classic individual v collective property rights with individuals having standing in both camps.JLM.

    3. sigmaalgebra

      What about the “alternatives” Fred mentioned, e.g., Craigslist? That is, are people renting for short terms via Craigslist a problem now?

      1. Harry DeMott

        Right now we don’t see much activity on Craigslist – at least for the buildings we are involved with. The beauty of AirBnB is that they are well organized, well funded, and have taken a lot of the friction out of the system – as Fred mentioned with background checks etc… So liquidity is going to flow where friction is minimal – it is like that in any marketplace. Interestingly, you see a ton of rental ads on Craigslist for regular way rentals (i.e. 1-2 year leases in NYC) and that is where all the liquidity has gone in that market (relative to 20 years ago when you waited with baited breath for an early copy of the Sunday NY Times real estate section to try and get a jump on new inventory)

    4. Andre Forbes

      Whilst the concerns are very much valid, real and with significant consequences for everyone involved, the fact of the matter is, people will try to do this anyway. It’s far better to have a safe, reliable and widely accepted framework for this sort of the thing than the wilderness that will otherwise occur. NYC housing is ridiculously expensive for most people as is, helping to alleviate some of that cost while bringing greater efficiency of use to the little available space as well as additional commerce to the region isn’t a bad thing. As with any sea-change, there will be growing pains but the potential benefits outweigh these. Significantly. At least for someone like me.

      1. fredwilson

        i love this back and forth between Andre and Harrybecause it shows two differing points of view on this issue and i agree with both

        1. Preston Pesek

          Both of these perspectives are valid, and Harry points to the key issue, that Airbnb is a catalyst for a larger discussion about fundamental property rights, and how far they extend, as a matter of both law and philosophy.The venue of present day NYC is particularly important, because it’s arguably the most highly evolved location for creating, testing, and revising real property rights. The birth of the USA is deeply rooted in a revolt against feudalism, and the freedom to own, enjoy, and/or profit from ones own property, is part of the fabric of American society.Where this issue gets complicated, is when someone else’s enjoyment their property, perhaps adjacent to yours, affects how you can enjoy your own. The trouble in NYC, is the broad array of nuanced privileges that individuals choose to weigh more heavily within the broadly defined term “quiet enjoyment”.For some New Yorkers, security is most important, or the ability to choose your neighbors with certainty. For others, retreat from public noise is superior. And for Airbnb hosts, the ability to subsidize the cost of a place to live, by earning income when it is not being used, is paramount. These are all valid property rights, and all of them should be protected. The trouble is, you can’t have all three at the same time in a place like NYC, so you have to choose. Just like you have to choose between a washer/dryer in your unit and a private outdoor space, NYC real estate is a game of compromise.I actually don’t see this as a city-wide issue, but one that becomes more defined building by building. New York Coops are notorious for exercising the right to refuse certain kinds of tenancy in their buildings, for better or worse. I would expect to see the continued evolution of building community bylaws, that either protect or prohibit the ability for residents to use platforms like Airbnb to extract value from one aspect of property ownership.Real estate, true to its nature, will always be a location-based enterprise, and the rights and privileges that one might enjoy at a given address, will always be specific to that address alone. We may see some high profile rhetoric in the press, or even a court case or two that attempts to solve this problem globally, but in the end, I see this current phase as necessary growing pains for the expression of one nuance of the fundamental right to use property. The private property market will respond by being clear about which property rights are being offered at which addresses, and the people will decide what they want.

      2. Harry DeMott

        This reminds me of the prostitution argument or the legalization of marijuana argument: hey its going on as it is, its going to keep going on, and since we have such great technology, we might as well regulate it properly so that all participants are better off than they otherwise would be with the extant system.The real question is as JLM puts it below – individual versus collective property rights. I would argue that renters in NYC, and co-op owners in NYC generally do not have the right to sublet on a short term basis for profit as per their leases (whether a rental lease or a proprietary lease). So which technology makes their illegal activities better is somewhat irrelevant.Buildings need to come to a collective judgement on how they want to govern themselves – apply these rules – and then the collective property rights will assert themselves.My guess is that those buildings who are AirBnB friendly will hold higher value for certain kinds of owners (those who travel a ton, or who work part time in NYC, etc…) where as those who are more strict on the sharing economy will appeal to people who live in the apartment full time and travel little. My guess is that upper east side co-op buildings will never allow AirBnB in their homes.This is a very interesting and personal subject for me from a philosophical standpoint, as I am completely in favor of technology and free markets, and very much against large government and an over reach of rules -however, I am very much for personal responsibility and believe that my individual freedoms come at the cost of not infringing upon other freedoms.NYC is a very unique market in this regard – and just as Uber (which I love) is far less useful to me in NYC than almost anywhere else (thank you NYC subways and plenty of yellow cabs), I think that AirBnB is another one of those services that is probably phenomenal almost anywhere but NYC – because of those collective rights that need to be negotiated.

        1. Salt Shaker

          You nailed it.

        2. LE

          however, I am very much for personal responsibility and believe that my individual freedoms come at the cost of not infringing upon other freedoms.Or as I sometimes say “it’s not right to give yourself pleasure at someone else’s pain”.

        3. Andre Forbes

          Re: Prostitution:There are a great number of arguments against prostitution, primarily moral arguments. However, as one of humanities oldest “professions” if you will, the fact that it invariably happens regardless of the harshness of sanctions and/or the supposed effectiveness of policing of the industry, there are arguments to be made about its continued illegality. In countries where the industry is legalized, there are significant benefits for those, especially those of lower socio-economic classes that are co-opted or pushed into the industry.Health (both mental and physical) of these people and of course taxation of the revenues generated there can be seen as positives. Things that are lost/ignored when it’s a black-market industry. With regulation in place, protections can be put in place for those involved. Personally, I don’t have any interest or real support for prostitution as an industry. But I refuse to stick my head in the sand or take the moral high ground concerning something that is very real and very painful for those involved.Similar arguments can be made for legalization of marijuana but due to the puritan laws surrounding the plant, sufficient research cannot be easily performed to properly determine whether the benefits outweigh the public health concerns.Re: Individual vs Collective property rights.Fair point, the law as it exists and the way leasing/rental contracts are written prohibits it and likely for good reasons when these contracts were written. But the old way of doing things is not the ONLY or BEST way of doing things. Otherwise, I’d likely have been born into slavery ;).As for Air BnB’s legality/success/future in NY. I see Air Bnb as a largely successful experiment. Thousands of people have benefited economically from the technology with other knock-on effects for the beneficiaries.There are certainly some cases where Air BnB tenants have infringed upon the freedoms, piece of mind, happiness and economic value of nearby properties, it would be fair to say that these represent a minority.I’m interested to see how far the sharing economy goes with Air BnB and other technologies. Cutting down on waste, increasing efficiency of spend can have significant long-term benefits for Western society.

      3. LE

        the fact of the matter is, people will try to do this anyway.People doing things “anyway” is not a reason to try to fix or solve a problem.I get this attitude at the condo board which I am on from time to time. They say “well we can issue these rules so nobody follow them so what’s the point”. So their attitude is to give up. My attitude is to put fines in place (which if you don’t pay accrue and prevent transfer of the unit) to make people follow the rules. And so on.Same thing you hear from parents. “My kids won’t listen to me”. Ok so take away something they like as punishment and consequences.

        1. Andre Forbes

          If you’re finding that a lot of people are breaking the rules, in spite of punitive measures being put in place, it’s hubris to assume that there’s nothing wrong with the rules. This attitude is part of the reason our prison systems are so highly populated on a per capita basis than nearly every other developing & developed country in the world.Sometimes rules need to change, other times, the mindset of the individuals committing the “crime” needs to change but it’s NEVER ALWAYS one side. The onus is on us all to find either a healthy medium or find a completely new way of doing things.

          1. LE

            If you’re finding that a lot of people are breaking the rules, in spite of punitive measures being put in place, it’s hubris to assume that there’s nothing wrong with the rules.It could mean that. But more likely, from my experience, it’s that people have decided that the punishment, “the stick” as I like to call it (if any many times there isn’t one) isn’t in place to prevent the action. [1]This attitude is part of the reason our prison systems are so highly populated on a per capita basis than nearly every other developing & developed country in the world.Is this some kind of “why drugs should be legalized” argument you are giving here? Perhaps people should think twice [2] before having more children born into poverty or that they can’t afford. Not that there aren’t people who end up in prison who are not born into poverty of course.Personally I don’t find it useful to compare what happens in our country, that is numbers and statistics (which you can make say anything you want to prove an argument) to other places.[1] An example might be why I don’t use a front license plate on my car in the state that requires it that I live in. The punishment is $85 and I’m willing to accept that in exchange for not messing up the front of my car with a license plate.[2] Of course that would require thinking.

          2. Andre Forbes

            Re: Point 1Fair, maybe the stick isn’t big enough, but who determines how big it should be, how far is too far in punitive measures and why is it not subject to any change/modification/abolition.Re: Point 2I feel that as far as drugs go, it’s a matter of cost of policing and quantifiable public health benefits/harm. That’s it as far as I’m concerned. If you assess that and rule one way or another, I fully accept the decisions made, even if I may not agree on a personal level.Re: Children born into poverty, there’s a lot to that situation that is overlooked, ignored and pushed aside to look at it in a simplistic/reductionist way. Furthermore, punishing the child for their upbringing is hardly the way to run a modern society. *shrug*In any case, the discussion has moved far too far away from the initial discussion which is Air BnB and their practices, especially as it relates to NYC.

    5. Tony Wright

      You mention “quiet enjoyment”, which is I think what most apartment people value quite a bit. My guess is that Airbnb neighbors will tend to be *more* quiet than the average neighbor. Most travelers don’t go someplace with the intent to spend a ton of time in their room. Airbnb rooms are probably empty for quiet a bit more hours a day (as well as empty for days at a time when vacant). They are also probably less likely to host a party and (for some properties) have loud kids. I certainly see some of the arguments, but I’m not convinced that the average airbnb neighbor is louder. If they occasionally are, just wait a few days. If you have a loud permaneighbor, you get to endure it for 12 months+.

      1. pbreit

        I don’t think “quiet enjoyment” is the correct phrasing. I live in a condo and I sure as heck do not want a continuous stream of unfamiliar people coming and going at all hours.

        1. CJ

          Unfortunately I think you lose that right when you buy an apartment rather than a house.

          1. pbreit

            Uh, the owners of apartments and condos have every right to agree on uses of the building.

    6. jason wright

      as an outsider looking in on NYC, and from your vantage point within the NYC property industry, i’m curious to know what percentage of New Yorkers you might estimate actually own the place they call ‘home’.

      1. ErikSchwartz

        Counting New Yorkers in Queens and Staten Island? Leave them out and the number is very low.

        1. jason wright

          i’m an outsider. that’s beyond my knowledge to say. sorry :-)”very low” – 10%?

      2. Harry DeMott

        I think in Manhattan, which has the greatest demand, the number is low as most people rent or live in co-op apartments. The number that live in condo units or single family homes is, and I’m guessing here under 25%.In other boroughs of NYC the number would be higher as Queens Brooklyn and the Bronx have a higher % of free standing housing. With Staten Island the highest % of all! but probably the least desire ability from an AirBnB standpoint due to transportation issues ( although the ferry is a gorgeous ride)

        1. jason wright

          Thanks Harry. The ferry has an iconic status in my mind. Perhaps Airbnb should try for a marketing link up to tempt customers to venture out from Manhattan.

        2. ShanaC

          depends – there a lot of apartments in manhattan that are empty. Brooklyn and Queens are getting very expensive.

          1. Anne Libby

            What do you mean “empty”?

          2. ShanaC

            Bought by rich russians but they don’t really live there. There is money buying top tier condos in Manhattan as investments (also, london)

          3. LE

            NYT Real Estate section is a total shill for the local real estate scene in NYC. It’s a work of art the wording that they use in those articles.Not that there isn’t demand of course but realtors have people so lathered up they are making decisions way to quickly and it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. It’s like an auction mentality. And a good lesson in why never to not give a time deadline in negotiations. Giving people time to think means they won’t be as irrational and won’t pay as much sitting ont he fence.

          4. jason wright

            It’s time for London to go its own way from the rest of the UK. It’s become a burden to the English regions. It really is another country.

        3. Richard

          Staten Island, the black sheep of the boroughs.

          1. LE

            After driving back from JFK the other night I would say it’s not as bad as the neighborhood near JFK (What is that, Ozone Park?).

          2. awaldstein

            Staten Island is actually interesting in its own right.A burb but there is a strong community there who commute on the ferry every day.My friend opened a small wine shop on the island to service them. I’m not moving but I really enjoy the trip and the visit at times.

    7. Ramón Cacho

      There is a great service called SuperHost to help you with managing the listings of AirBnB.Maybe that’s something you would be interested in as it helps to manage a few things such as schedule cleanings, and handle key exchanges, among others.

  18. Salt Shaker

    I think NYC apt building management needs to take a firmer role in defining policy and enforcement for the bldgs they manage. In NYC there are rent stabilized/controlled apts, co-ops and condos. Rent stabilization laws technically preclude a tenant from renting their apt in this manner, while also placing stringent restrictions on a prime tenant’s ability to even sublet. Co-ops, which are most often owner occupied, are gen very restrictive w/ bylaws that prohibit short-term rentals. Condos are less restrictive and have a lower % of owner occupied units than co-ops, meaning there’s far more bldg “churn.” My building is 50% rent stabilized and 50% condo. (When a rent stabilized tenant vacates the unit is sold and converted to a condo.) It’s def illegal for rent stabilized tenants to use AirBnB, while to date there are no clear policy guidelines in my bldg established for condo owners. Consequently, there are a fair amount of short-term “visitors” coming and going, presumably renting apts from AirBnB and other services. I don’t like it and it does frankly make me feel a bit less safe. I’d feel a lot better if the vetting process involved my bldg’s management, not some third-party service like AirBnB with an economic incentive. There are liability issues here, not just for renters, but for bldg mgmt, too. For a $50 fee bldg mgt can easily do a credit and criminal screen. Adding $50 to a single night’s stay is perhaps rich, but the fee is easily amortized over several nights.

  19. ChrisF

    The complexities in NYC are enormous. In our own building (coop) we are now amending the proprietary lease to specifically prohibit short term rentals because no one wants people that we have not vetted ourselves renting for a few days next door. In addition, NYC coop law specifically prohibits rentals of less than 30 days. While we all understand the potential revenue implications no one wants to take the risk of disrupting our community by adding a transient variable to the mix. I think the comment that it will go building by building (at least of coop’s) based on the unique make up of the building is most likely. As for other forms of ownership/tenancy (e.g., condo, rental…) the field of play is probably much more open. Honestly, I don’t see much of a future for Airbnb in coops, which make up approximately 75% of apartment units in NYC. Condos on the other hand that are much more loosely governed may present a better opportunity.

    1. fredwilson

      is that 75% number similar across all five boroughs?

        1. Salt Shaker

          This article states that in Manhattan between co-ops and condos 75% are co-ops and 25% are condos. However, the majority of apts in Manhattan are neither, they’re rent regulated.

          1. Cam MacRae

            Indeed. Although I believe the true rate to be 47% rent regulated that 48.4% of the Manhattan rental stock is rent regulated.

      1. Tim Dierks

        Data is here:…, starting around page 267.Total NYC housing units: 3.3M25% in Manhattan (841K)65% rental units (2.2M in NYC)70% rental in Manhattan (587K); 188K owned units in Manhattan.24% of NYC rental units are unregulated, 90% of those are in rental buildings; the remainder are rented coops/condos.24% of Manhattan rental units are unregulated, 85% of them are in rental buildings.Of owned units in NYC: about 580K conventional (single-family homes, I believe), 323K coop (51K Mitchell-Lama, 272K private), 113K condo. In Manhattan, only about 5K single-family homes, 139K coop (13K M-L, 126K private), 43K condo.So, if the addressable market for AirBNB in Manhattan is constrained to condos, it’s about 23% of the owned housing stock and about 5.1% of all the housing stock.Curiously, almost 8% of Manhattan’s units are vacant, but not available for sale or rent.

    2. Salt Shaker

      I believe your 75% number is incorrect. Although many apts in NYC are non-regulated (e.g., condos, co-ops) a majority are either rent stabilized or controlled, although the % are declining.

      1. Richard

        If the city can rent stabilize a property, it hard to imagine it can’t regulate it in other ways.

        1. Salt Shaker

          NYC rent regulation is Byzantine.In theory, it’s designed to protect both the landlord and tenant, yet in practice it’s very much slanted towards tenants rights. Rent reg is designed to maintain a level of affordable housing in NYC, an admirable goal, but too often it’s done on the backs of small landlords. I (unfortunately) for many years managed some family owned rental props in NYC, in addition to my f/t gig. I couldn’t believe how slanted the NYC housing court system was for deadbeat tenants. It takes forever to evict a tenant, while landlords rack up ridiculous legal fees. It’s very, very easy for tenants to game the system.I know I would have gladly rented via AirBnB as the margins particularly for a landlord who owns a rent stabilized bldg can be quite favorable. The city will never legally allow however, as it reduces inventory on affordable housing, which rent stab was designed to address.Full disclosure: I live in a rent stab apt and pay roughly 1/4 of fair market value. I’ve therefore seen rent regulation from both sides–as a tenant and as a landlord. It’s hardly equitable.

          1. LE

            I know someone who rents out a rent stabilized apartment to someone in NYC. However it’s not their apartment. It’s someone else who rents it to them (that has the rights for years to the apartment). So the actual tenant is two or three times removed from the actual landlord. This has been going on for years. I would guess this isn’t that unusual either.

          2. Salt Shaker

            Sounds like a landlord who’s not on their game. Certainly (in theory) it’s grounds for eviction. With security cameras, doormen, access to credit info, etc., it’s fairly easy to doc a transient living environment, although getting a fav judgment via NYC housing court can be a nightmare. I bet the NY Post story about using AirBnB as a brothel was “uncovered” via security cameras.

    3. Cam MacRae

      We have tenants in our apartment (co-op). Getting them approved was an ordeal. Airbnb is a non-starter in our building.

  20. Richard

    If you want an know what the answer to this is look at the legislative history of NYC when it regulated hotels in the first place. There is nothing new here but for the technology. Whether it’s cooking at home for profit, renting ones room, or ones car, NYC long ago regulated this away. With 911, Health Pandemics and the costs of real estate, the risks have only been elevated. this is an going to be a tough fight.

  21. Richard

    My point is this. You can attack Airbnb for all sorts of things. But consider the alternatives. Do we want hosts putting their apartments on Craigslist instead of Airbnb?There are a great arguments for airbnb, I just don’t see this as one of them?

    1. LE

      That’s almost close to the “pot isn’t anymore dangerous than alcohol and may be less” genre.

  22. PhilipSugar

    I don’t like the alternative of consider the alternative: Craigslist.I also don’t like the “its just the hotels that oppose this” because I don’t want random people staying next to me.As for the individual v collective property rights that is the biggest discussion. At what point does your decision with your property affect my enjoyment of my property.That is the heart of the issue.

    1. awaldstein

      In any vertical living environment from a three story multi-use building to a 60 floor highrise, anything you do impacts everything.The food you cook, whether you smoke or burn incense, whether you bring your bike or dogs down the main elevator.So I agree but in essence everything impacts how you live.

      1. PhilipSugar

        It does and my point is this: There are many rules/laws that were setup and in place for a reason, that people like to ignore when it is beneficial to them and would like enforced when it is beneficial to them.The fact is that in many places there are rules/laws that prohibit short term rental unless you have a license. There is a reason for this, I don’t need to go into them.It isn’t like those were changed for AirBnB.I’ll give you an example. I live in an historical landmark in a historical district. Now there are many times I chaffe at having to follow certain rules. However, I knew they were there when I bought the house. As a matter of fact I didn’t buy a house in another area, because they also controlled what you did inside the house as well as out.So you could say who are these people to say I can’t have plastic railings for my deck outside? But then I look at the northern part of the town across the canal where they had no rules and see the ugly tin siding etc, and realize my property values are 20% higher than the same houses that were built at the same time.

        1. awaldstein

          We are completely like minded on this.Prior to Luli Lianna had a real estate company specializing in small-to midsize multiuse building in downtown.She ran into this all the time. It cuts both ways.Your house must be lovely!

          1. PhilipSugar

            It is lovely and there is a Bed and Breakfast on my block and an illegal one run by a photographer that was shut down.So you could say the Bed and Breakfast wanted it shut down. In fact it was my wife and a neighbor that made the stink.I’m not going to go into the details but you know there is a big difference in their operations.

        2. LE

          Was pointing out to my wife a similar situation to what zoning allows in parts of Philadelphia vs. the suburbs. You can drive down a typical street in NE Philly (as only one example) and see a complete hodgepodge of signs that make the place look cheap and ugly. Anything goes. It’s a “CF” if you know what I mean.In a typical suburb by comparison where you have zoning restrictions and all sorts of “aesthetic police” that shit would never fly. And it looks nicer and adds to the property values.My dad owned some building in Old City and sold facade easements that prevented him from modify the building fronts to the city many years ago.

      2. LE

        I dated a girl who lived in a coop building on 93rd st for a few years. She didn’t have her floors covered with carpet to the required % and her neighbor downstairs got pissed off and reported her because it created noise in her apartment when she was exercising. She (my gf at the time) got all pissed off about that. But I thought it was good. Would be a reason for me to choose the building. I own a shore condo that doesn’t allow less than a year lease and to me that’s great. Other buildings allow as short a week a non starter according to my level of annoyance.

        1. Salt Shaker

          IMO, one of the most impt criteria in buying a condo is the ratio of owner occupied tenants to non-owner occupied tenants. The composition, quality and care of a bldg can shift dramatically based on this metric alone.

    2. LE

      As for the individual v collective property rights that is the biggest discussion. At what point does your decision with your property affect my enjoyment of my property.People who aren’t annoyed by ephemeral people don’t understand this concept at all.After you busted your fucking ass restoring your property of course you are going to be concerned with your neighbor deciding to let a bunch of random people hotel through the property next door.

  23. ErikSchwartz

    If you own a house or if you own a condo with no CCNRs then go ahead and AirBnB it. Mazel tov.If you own a condo or apartment with CCNRs the answer is probably already in your CCNRs,If you are renting a market rate apartment it’s between you and your landlord (and probably already covered (forbidden) in your lease).If you are renting a subsidized or stabilized apartment then the city should be involved.

  24. Lottery Loser

    NYC being NYC, money talks! What if the hosts make an extra contribution to the building maintenance fees based on how much they make, a tax of sorts?

  25. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Man, this is a tough one, from my view. It’s so expensive to live in NYC. I would have loved to have been able to rent out my apartment when I was living there. On the other hand, I totally understand all the concerns of neighbors, landlords.I feel like this kind of thing has been going on for a long long time in Europe, though. Am I wrong? How have European cities solved for it?

    1. LE

      There is nothing to solve. It’s not right to annoy your neighbors for your benefit. Same reason you can’t run a business out of a residential property to make ends meet. Doesn’t matter if you are a single mom or dad doesn’t matter if you have to pay for expensive medical treatments. Not your neighbors problem (who expect their quiet enjoyment).

  26. sigmaalgebra

    Idea? AirBnB might buy a building in NYC, rent it to long term renters, but have the lease contract permit tenants to participate in the AirBnB deal with tenants. Then, see how this goes! If it flops, then AirBnB just owned a building for a while. If it is successful, then AirBnB has put a stake in the ground, has created some facts, and has a tasty carrot to wave in front of other building owners, tenants, etc. Moreover, since AirBnB owns the building, they can have a 24/7 staffed reception desk, security cameras, etc. and can keep short term renters from bumping luggage, sample cases, pet carriers, etc. into the walls, smoking up the place with smells of fried fish, various weeds, etc. So, don’t just guess and conjecture but see if can make it work. And, yes, keep down the hookers, pimps, drug dealers/users, etc.

    1. LE

      They have that concept with vacation properties. You buy a property and when you are not using it the management company rents it out. Not a time share but a way to use it as much as you want and then offset the costs with some income.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        Gee, my ‘new’ ideas for how to get the girls in high school to like me weren’t very new either. So, not the first time I failed!AirBnB is just trying to fight NYC city hall; piece of cake since I was trying overcome what the mothers were telling their daughters about boys!Of course, now things are better since some of the girls, with some of them pretty, actually want ‘bad’ boys!High school girls? Too late for me: “Youth is such a wonderful time of life. Too bad it is wasted on young people.” Of course, from some of your reports, maybe if I get a 150′ yacht on Long Island Sound and a 1000 HP speed boat, some young, stuffed bikinis will ask me to give them “a ride across the Sound”. Ah, day dreaming does not get code written for the yacht! “A man being rich is like a girl being beautiful!” It was forever thus!Saturday evening I went to pick up the pizza carryout I’d ordered. There were about five women, not very young, waiting for a table. As I walked in, I stopped at the gathering, nearly blocking the path, and one of them said they were waiting for a table. I answered, “It’s okay. I’m just standing here thinking about which of you girls I will ask for a date.” When I left with the pizza box, I told them, “No thanks. I won’t share. But if you had a six pack of beer …!” One of the women responded, “So, that’s why we don’t have husbands.”I didn’t say, “Uh, Honey, there’s more to it than that!”. How can anything as important as reality be so cruel?

        1. LE

          Well you know my theory on this subject. (And of course, yes there are exceptions.)But it goes like this. “All the good merchandise gets snapped up quickly” like a young naive farm girl, at the bus arrival stop, in hollywood. [1] Sometimes (as with divorce) that merchandise gets snapped up again. If it is good merchandise that is.[1] Relates bilaterally to Fred and Joanne, for example.

          1. sigmaalgebra

            > good merchandise … a young naive … girlYup. She was 12, I 14. She was sweet, naive, and a good candidate for the prettiest girl in the country. Eighteen months later nerd me, with, standard for the time and backgrounds like mine, far too little insight into the emotions of others, she did something wrong. I should have been able to have saved the situation and married her but handled the situation poorly and walked away from her like Lohengrin walked away from his Elsa. Bummer.As I think back, with my now much better understanding of people and girls, I can see that actually I was doing well. I had a great chance and a fantastic, once in a lifetime opportunity.She was sweet, naive, and gorgeous. She just adored children, especially with their “little turned up noses.” World class “merchandise”. I blew it.I regarded her as an angel and tried to treat her at least like a princess.A poor picture is attached; it was from a Homecoming Queen competition, and she was in the ninth grade, really just weeks after I walked away from her. In those weeks she had changed her hair to brown from the childhood natural blond she still had at 12 and had maintained until we broke up. She is the second girl from the viewer’s left. I really blew it. Blew it.”Youth is such a wonderful time of life. Too bad it is wasted on young people.” — no truer words spoken.Guess which girl was by far the prettiest! The girl who won was the one in the middle. Go figure.I blew it. The lessons should be in ‘Girls 101 for Dummies — Boys’ if I ever write it. Blew it.

          2. LE

            You didn’t attach any picture.What did she do wrong?

          3. sigmaalgebra

            I see the picture in Firefox — it is at the end. You might have to click on “More”.> What did she do wrong?For an explanation, enough to guess some of what happened and why, below find a love story novella:Yes, ‘nihil nisi bonum’, but she died a few years ago of ovarian cancer. And her mother is also gone.There were some essentially social, cultural, and psychological challenges in the way of our relationship. Her mother was quite bright and capable, likely with some money from her parents, at least in her sister’s family, but was deliberately a single mother, with two children, deliberately from different fathers. Apparently my girl’s mother had told her daughters “If a woman wants to have children, she doesn’t need to put up with a husband but just needs to find someone she can trust.”.There when the girl was 12, there were some sad signs. She was too much alone, had at most one girlfriend and was not close to her. Why? Well, there is the T. Brazelton remark that when a child is rejected by its peers the reason is always that the child has anxieties and the peers sense this, feel uncomfortable, and reject the child. Well, likely she had some anxieties, maybe insecurity from not having her father in the house, maybe shame from her and her sister having different fathers, etc. Indeed, in the first days I came to see her, as she was telling me about herself, “giving knowledge of herself” (E. Fromm), always a good sign, she volunteered that she and her sister had different fathers. For another, she was thinking that a ‘gang’ of five boys one year older were her ‘friends’. Indeed, the first day I saw her was at school, at lunch, outside the building where 1-2 dozen people were waiting for the lunch hour to end and one of the gang was molesting her. I concluded that she didn’t have a good boyfriend and might want one, me. And I was good to her, very good.Alas, soon I took her to a movie. She was gorgeous, light, perfect skin, her hair naturally blond still from when she was a little girl, and a new, all white dress with lots of overlapping layers. For a car, both my parents came. After the movie I was to call them to take her back to her home.After about 60 seconds in the movie, she left for the ladies room, came back, and said that she was going to “sit with my friends” — the gang. Huge bummer. Dumb. We’re talking “naive”, not really good judgment here.I found her in the theater, wanted to take her home safely, but she just sat there, looking at me, smiling. I walked home. I suspect after the movie the boys tried to get her to ‘come with them’; although I was in a good neighborhood and, actually, one of the better high schools in the country, she might not have been alive at dawn.Sure, now I think of it: I should have gone to the lobby of the theater, called her mother, explained the situation, and gotten a message from her mother. Maybe had the theater usher page my girl to come to the phone for an important message. Or I could have walked back to where she was sitting and, with some hand signals, motioned for her to come with me for a message from her mom to let me walk or have her driven safely home.I suspect she walked home alone, 12, gorgeous, blond, light skin, white dress, easy to see late at night. Bummer. I suspect her mom gave her some ‘corrective advice and judgment’ — she never did see those boys again.There may have been an old issue: From whatever sources, maybe mostly just her mother’s warnings about boys, my girl had in her mind a ‘pattern’ of what a ‘boy’ was like. So, she saw that bad boys fit the pattern but I did not. So, knowing me for only about two weeks, she was a bit eager to reject that I was an appropriate movie ‘date’.Somehow she and I spent some hundreds of hours in afternoons alone in her house. I never knew where her mother and younger sister were and did not have enough insight to find out. I did get a sense that my parents didn’t quite approve; Mom was very much ‘linked in’ with the high end society ‘social conversations’ and may have known more about the family than I did. A few times it appeared that her mom had talked with my parents, and I would suspect that my parents found that to be improper.Net, it does appear that her mom, knowing that we would be alone so much, gave her some strict advice with some scary descriptions of the ‘threats’ of a boy. So, there in the house, we never ‘got started’, e.g., never kissed. After two months I asked her about kissing, and she said, “I might let you kiss me, but I might not kiss you back.”. This had to have been a lesson and wording given to her by her mom. Since I was so darned naive, my interpretation was that she still didn’t much like me. As I look back, that was flatly wrong: It is just that her mom had made her darned afraid of ‘getting started’.Kissing or not, I fell genuinely in love with her. Easy enough — in the early months, she was great to be with, kissing or not. That she was maybe the prettiest girl in the country didn’t hurt. She was sweet, darling, adorable, and precious. Mother Nature had made me a total sucker for such a girl and had made her just irresistible to nearly any boy.She seemed really happy to see me; sometimes I brought my 35 mm camera and took some pictures, and she loved posing by, say, leaning back against a tree. I got some great pictures (mailed back to her family just before I got married — bummer!). I didn’t understand and didn’t know how good I had it and was not able to ‘parse’ the situation on kissing, anxiety, her mother’s warnings, etc.We went on, I afraid she might tell me to find another girl for kissing, and she afraid of whatever her mother had warned. Our poor communications led to wildly false guesses, and then we started acting on those. Bummer.E.g., she and her cousin were alone and guests in a backyard pool in a moderately wealthy neighborhood, and I got invited over. So, swim suit, towel, and bicycle, and I rode over. Soon the girls wanted my swim suit; I looked at the cousin saying “This is not for you”, and my girl continued. Very sadly my judgment told me to have us stop, and we did. My high concerns: Where the heck were the people of the house? There was no car there; maybe the woman of the house had left for a short trip and would be back soon. If I had gotten caught, it could have been grim. Any George would have had some ad hoc surgery and his name changed to Georgina, Ginger, Gloria, or Gladys, his choice.E.g., now I can guess that really, what she said about kissing or not, she expected me, if necessary, just to pin her against a wall and kiss her unless she strongly objected. She expected me to kiss her like a bad boy from a bad family in a bad neighborhood on the wrong side of the tracks, and I was treating her like a princess in the ballroom of a cotillion ball at a yacht club (uh, not like in a dark corner of a boat house at the yacht club!).As the months went on, on her sofa, she was sitting 4-5 feet from me, not looking happy, and not looking back. I looked at her, expected her to look back and us to come together and hug and kiss. She never looked back. I felt rejected and guessed that she didn’t ‘like me’ — BS. I had too little psychological insight to see what else might be in her head and be going on and to find a way to solve the problem, likely easily enough — naive nerd, bummer. And Dad had made no efforts to help with advice.One day like that, she got up, changed to some blue jeans, about 3 years old and sizes too small, quickly led us (with high determination and not her usual passivity) to a shaded porch in the neighborhood, sat on the floor of the porch with her feet one step down and her knees about a foot apart, looked up at me, and said, “I need to find someone I can trust.”.Bingo. Fireworks. Success. Well, maybe: But, we’d never kissed! What the heck was going on? And what was this “someone” thing instead of me? Was I about to get into deep legal trouble? Why does she want to ‘run the bases in reverse order’? Why were we talking about this in a semi-public setting instead of on her sofa? Where did she have in mind, in the woods across the street from the porch, on the ground, behind some trees, there that afternoon? Why not in her house were we had just been alone? Why not in my house, empty nearly all day nearly every work day? We needed to talk.And since I was afraid to talk, I couldn’t clean up that mess. We failed: We failed to go to London to receive from a ceremony, complete with ‘Pomp and Circumstance’, from the Queen in the House of Commons the Grand Gold Medal of the British Empire for our contribution to the ‘Guinness Book of Records’ for the most confused communications in the history of the English language! And the population of the world is 6 billion? Not a chance!Sure, she was nervous and borrowed the wording from her mom: Her mom had wanted a ‘sperm donor’, but my girl definitely did not want a pregnancy (very much, quite yet). Her mom was deeply against marriage, joining, bonding, and love with a man, but my girl was likely trying to have us be ‘closer’. She needed to use different wording.She was a ‘passionate’ (breathing rate, pulse. Yup. Kissing? Nope!) little girl, then 13, and, for an explanation, maybe could, following her mom’s advice, resist kissing in her living room but, finally, just could not resist what she had long really wanted. Likely was picking the day considering her calendar which, if we had ‘gotten started’ and ‘gone on’ in her living room she was afraid she would/could not.There was a very simple solution: All we had to do was to say what ‘too far’ was, and I would have enforced that boundary with overwhelming self control (continuous cold showers) and iron determination; no way did I want to lose her trust. Or if the only consideration was just not starting our family yet, then all we had to do was what tens of millions of couples do, use birth control. I wanted to marry her, not get her pregnant by some ‘fun’ some afternoon and, then, have my parents and/or her mom break us up. And there was the AG’s office: Even if I was acquitted, we would have been broken up; bills from my legal defense might have cost my family our house; and both of my parents might have lost their politically sensitive jobs. Really big bummer.I was ready, willing, able, and eager for us to ‘make love’, before that day, on that day, after that day, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every second of every hour, if we had just talked a little as we should have and planned carefully. Alas, Mother Nature and passionate 13 year old girls are not always really good on ‘planning’! I don’t think that Mother Nature’s proclivities would have done much to help me with the AG’s office or a judge, and they wouldn’t believe in virgin birth, either.Yes, any mom would be reluctant to believe that there could be any such boy; but only such a boy should have been with that girl alone for several hundred hours. It was simple: I was fully in love with her but didn’t want to wreck a great situation, and, instead, just wanted us to be careful and plan a little. And no way did I want to hurt her, our relationship, or myself.But at the end of that time at the porch, I was thinking, “Great. We shouldn’t really act just now just here, but, with this effort of hers, in the next few days in her living room or just on a walk in some woods, we should make speed of light progress to kissing and, then, return to the subject at hand.”. But, we didn’t and, instead, reverted back to five feet apart with her not looking at me, and, really, now, looking at the floor 120 degrees away from me. Bummer.A month or so later, I called her, was told that she was at her cousin’s house, called there, and was invited over. So, onto my bicycle and over, 1/3rd of the way across the city, in fast, heavy traffic, at night, with no room for a bicycle, the most dangerous of the years of riding I’d done, but I was coming to see the girl I was in love with. The house was nice, in a nice neighborhood. Today we’d be talking $800,000 in a low cost of living city.The cousin met me at the door, with a big smile, and walked me toward her family room. About four feet from entering the family room I saw her, the girl I loved, looking at me, with a big smile, and sitting in the lap of a boy, it turned out, a cousin of the girl cousin and visiting for a day.Bummer. Disaster. Catastrophe. The end. A relationship of 18 months — where I’d tried to be a really good boyfriend for her, had done everything I could think was proper to get us kissing, had been patient beyond all reason, was in love with her, wanted us to continue on for the years it would take us to be able to get married, to have us spend a great life together, regarded her as an angel, treated her like a princess — wadded up and thrown away like a dirty paper towel.But, I was still curious about what the heck was going on. So, she and that boy were at the end of a long sofa on the left, and I sat on a short sofa on a diagonal near the door on the right. Right away, in that boy’s lap, she started kissing him, continuously, passionately, in total, maybe 1000 times. Once she reclined with high breathing rate, and I told her “You better sit up” — not that I wanted to be her chaperon as she ‘made out’ with another boy — and, curiously, right away she, even obediently, sat up.Meanwhile the girl cousin was on the floor in front of me, now in a night gown, begging me to ‘screw’ her. The night gown was long and flannel; likely she was still fully dressed.The situation didn’t look quite real; it looked like a play with a script, that is, a farce, that is with a fool where I was both the fool and the audience. Likely the script was written by the girl cousin, of questionable character and motivations. My girl, yes, a bit naive and gullible.The ‘plan’? A guess: The girl cousin was jealous of my girl because my girl was much prettier. I’d been devoted to my girl for 18 months and had been in love with her for at least a year, and the cousin, with maybe two new ‘serious’ boyfriends a week (does a hardware store have a red bulb I can add to her porch light?), had never had a devoted boyfriend for more than 18 hours.To continue the guessing, the plan had been that my girl would spend the night at the girl cousin’s; likely with the girl cousin and the boy cousin sleeping together. The girl cousin’s mother? Not well. Her father? Usually not there.So, learning that I was on the way over, my girl had thought that she and I would spend the night in a guest bedroom.So, the girl cousin had a scheme: Tell my girl that since we’d never kissed, I needed to be shown that my girl was not against kissing and, thus, would be kissing that boy. And, due to the day of the tight blue jeans, the girl cousin would get me started, tell me to stop, and have my girl step in and us to go to the guest bedroom. My girl was wearing, out of character for her, a skimpy, knit ‘tank top’, likely from the girl cousin; it seemed that the plan was for me to undress her from the waist up, right away.The kissing? She didn’t show me she was ‘for’ kissing, which I never doubted. Instead, she was showing me that she was very much for kissing that boy and not at all for kissing me.But the girl cousin’s ‘hidden agenda’ was to break up me and the girl I loved by having my girl ‘cheating’ on me and having me indicate my intention to ‘cheat’ on her. One or the other of us would end our relationship, and the girl cousin would feel better about having only 18 hour boyfriends and also would have had fun leading my girl around by the nose.Disaster: All my girl needed to do was just meet me at the door, stand close, look up, and smile. We would go, a very gentle embrace, a big embrace (our first!), a kiss, and continue from there. Simple.No doubt the girl cousin had told my girl that the kissing “didn’t mean anything”, and my gullible girl accepted this. Easy message from a girl who deserved a red porch light. Girl cousin was trying lead the girl I loved around by the nose, to corrupt her. We’re talking some really bad influences here.While I was ‘unemotional’ in those days, still, repressed or not, seeing her in that boy’s lap ripped the heart out of me, and each of the 1000 kisses stabbed a knife into my heart.Sure, once my heart had recovered, I could suspect that she was kissing that boy only in a stage play but otherwise was trying to show me how she wanted us to kiss — easier way, just come to where I was sitting and sit in my lap.I’d come to see her 100+ times and each time wanted us to hold hands, hug, and kiss, including that night, but never could see any hint from her and didn’t want to ‘use force’ or risk ‘rejection’ or an end. That night I’d arrived ready, willing, able, and eager for us to kiss. But 1000 times she told me in stark terms that she would rather kiss that boy she didn’t even know than kiss me.If she had cared at all about my being her boyfriend, then it should have taken at least a gun to her head to do to me what she was doing. I’d had some bad hours, after school fights with boys who would liked to have killed me, some teachers not far behind, sometimes my parents angry with me, some accidents and illnesses, but that hour, watching the girl I was in love with kissing that boy, was the worst hour of my life.What she was doing was about the worst, ugliest, nastiest, meanest, most humiliating insults possible for any girl to give any boy trying to be her boyfriend.I had to conclude that she’d decided that our relationship was absurd and ridiculous, that it should end, and that I’d been invited over there to be told to go to Hell.It was nothing like the relationship I’d had in mind, and it was nothing I was willing to be part of. I was not learning more so said nothing, stood, turned, and walked toward the front door. Surprise: Suddenly ‘my girl’ jumped up from that boy’s lap, ran after me with high concern in her voice and face, and, with pleading, said, “Don’t go”.Why not? I wasn’t going to watch her kiss that boy anymore. If she wanted to ‘let me down slowly’, I didn’t need that from a girl who’d just told me to go to Hell. Kiss her? For the first time in 18 months, not a chance. Why stay?So, I left.In the morning I woke up feeling worse than with a case of the flu and decided to ride to a lake in a nice subdivision, sit on a bench, try to understand where I’d messed up, try to get her out of my heart, and look for another girl. The path to the lake took me across the grounds of our school and in front of her house. As I rode across the grounds I knew just where her house was, just over my left shoulder, but did not stop, as I had 100+ times before, some of the happiest hours of my life, and didn’t even look.Soon I heard her voice calling to me. Somehow she’d seen me and was running after me. We stopped and she said, “Last night didn’t mean anything.”.Well it meant an awful lot to me.She’d stopped about eight feet from me. Bummer. Something was wrong; something was broken; if I could have discovered what, then I would have tried to have fixed it.I stood there for about five minutes, looked down, slowly shaking my head, and thinking of nothing I could say that wasn’t very well known to both of us. She said no more. I saw no way to save the situation. I got back on my bicycle and rode to the lake. I went away from her like Lohengrin went away from his Elsa.That evening I was at home resting, and my parents, on the way out the door to a party at Dad’s office, said something short, vague, and vulgar to me and left. Interpreting and interpolating, it appeared that my girl had called and asked my parents why I had refused to make love to her. Nerd me, heart broken, didn’t call her and ask if she had called.I never saw or heard from her again for about a year at which time I saw her walking alone in a shopping center, not good, and gave her a ride home. She sat on the far right, looked ashamed and humiliated, and looked down at the floor and to the right so that I couldn’t see her face. We said nothing, and when we got to her house she left the car ASAP and ran inside. There were some very strong emotions there although I don’t know just what.Had I had 101 level understanding of girls, the day she ran after me and said “Last night didn’t mean anything” I could have saved the situation. Yes, I would have needed to have given her some guidance, psychological counseling, fatherly explanations of romance, love, and relationships, some security from some of her anxieties, etc. With fewer anxieties, she could have had more girlfriends, and to find them we could have gone to my church with a very welcoming youth group.We should have sat and read some E. Fromm, ‘The Art of Loving’ together. I should have explained some of how I saw love and our love. She was quite ‘malleable’; the ‘training’ should have gone well.A talk with her might have gone: (1) Say some nice things to her to get her somewhat happy, encouraged, hopeful, and optimistic, i.e., thank her for running to see me. Ask her if she had been crying (likely she had, nearly all night) and tell her how sorry I was that she cried. (2) Explain how I loved her and never wanted her hurt. (3) Explain how we actually had solved Fromm’s fundamental problem in all of life, doing something effective about being alone, and, thus, should congratulate ourselves and be proud of and value our relationship. (4) Explain how, heavily so that we would be closer and feel less alone, we should want anything in kissing or in love making to be meaningful, to be in effect our sending little love letters to each other. (5) Explain more about love, with one person filling one heart, etc. (6) Explain how awful that night at her cousin’s had been. (7) Praise her on her two efforts to run after me and on her effort, at least one, to call me. (8) Explain what I’d wanted for us, like each other, be boyfriend and girlfriend, hold hands, hug, and kiss, have a loving, lasting, and growing romantic relationship, introduce her to my family, give her a birthday party and a going steady party, have her over for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, try to grow our relationship for the rest of our teens and, then, hopefully for the rest of our lives. (9) Then, without expecting her to articulate her thoughts about us, just ask her a series of questions: (A) Do you like me at all? (B) Will you join with me in our regarding ourselves as boyfriend and girlfriend — do you like me that much? (C) Will you join with me in our holding hands, hugging, and kissing each other, a lot, and meaning it, and communicating to each other how much we like each other? (D) Will you join with me in our having a loving, lasting, growing romantic relationship, hopefully at least for the rest of our teens? (E) Will you go steady with me?Net, considering everything, I believe I could have gotten “Yes” to all of those. I could have saved the situation and married her.Summary: Her mother had given her a poor image of boys, bad boys from bad homes in a bad neighborhood on the wrong side of the tracks. So, my girl was afraid of getting pregnant and, thus, just would not let me know she liked me. I was afraid she didn’t like me. Then we were too afraid to communicate and made wildly false guesses about each other. A nasty cousin tried to trick my girl into a ‘farce’ that would have us appearing to cheat on each other so that, thus, one of us would break us up. I didn’t go along with the farce at all, but my girl did. The farce fooled me, and I broke us up. My girl was often confused about us and in the end terribly ashamed of herself. We really did love each other and would, could, and should have come together, but I was too much of a nerd and didn’t see how to save the situation.I needed a copy of ‘Girls 101 for Dummies — Boys’.

          4. LE

            Amazing. No time to read this but the length meant I had to see how many words that is.My quick check shows over 4400 words: 4419 to 4420 save 4421 the 4422 situation. 4423 I 4424 needed 4425 a 4426 copy 4427 of 4428 ‘Girls 4429 101 4430 for 4431 Dummies 4432 — 4433 Boys’.That means that if you type 55 wpm straight it would have taken you about 80 minutes just to type that!Just to proof it takes about 17 minutes at 250wpm reading.I actually will read it later looks interesting.

          5. LE

            Funny even with the blurry picture and not reading which one she is I automatically picked out her as being the most attractive. The I re-read “2nd from left” and saw it was her.

  27. jason wright

    I don’t know the NY Post. If we did a ‘tear down’ of its economics what percentage of that would be driven by the incumbent property ‘mafia’ and related industries of NYC? One dying industry bitching on behalf of another.’AirBnB to City: Drop Dead’. NYC isn’t the centre of the universe, and neither is the United States of America. The majority of Google’s income comes from beyond its domestic market.So parochial.

  28. Barry Graubart

    I’m a supporter of airbnb but there are some important issues that need to be resolved. One area that concerns me is key transfer.Host A gives her key to Guest B for a week’s rental. Guest B makes a copy of that key. Months later, Guest B decides to use that key, possibly when Host A is back in her unit, or she’s rented it to Guest C, or simply to rob the unit when no one is there.There are ways to minimize this, particularly as smart locks become more available (we’re still waiting, August), but for now it can be a real concern.While hotels can have their issues, having 24×7 staff at a front desk makes things safer for the host, the guest and the neighbors.Obviously, the AG’s office is being driven by loss of tax revenue and, potentially, lobbying from the hotel industry, but their efforts will force the discussions to happen, which will allo these types of issues to be surfaced and resolved.I love the sharing economy and airbnb is playing a big role. But, they need to take these safety issues seriously.

    1. Antone Johnson

      Excellent point about keys. I’ve seen places intended as vacation rentals (both through Airbnb and traditional agencies) with special locks that have changeable codes for this very reason (as do hotels). That’s an example that favors the person who buys a unit to use as a pure short-term rental income property. For the more sympathetic sounding “little guy” who just wants to rent out here or there to help defray the high cost of housing, there is no clear solution to this problem. It would be cost-prohibitive to have doors re-keyed a zillion times a year.

  29. LE

    Airbnb requires hosts to have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their homes. if a host does not have one, Airbnb provides it to them.My guess is that airbnb doesn’t verify that the smoke detectors or carbon monoxide alarms are actually operational and installed. In theory at least hotels are subject to inspection and/or a maintenance crew whose job it is to make sure that these devices are operational. Not to mention that people don’t cook in most hotel rooms (that are not setup for that). So the risk is less right there. Who is verifying the alarms are working in most walkups? Answer: Nobody is. It’s self certification.

  30. LE

    Do hotels verify the identity of their guests? In a way they do but not the same way as airbnb. I’ve never been in any hotel (that I would stay in) and have seen the type of crowd that would make me not feel safe. This is done several ways. First by cost of the room and 2nd by way of onsite security eyeballing you at every corner. Honestly there really isn’t much evidence of being subject to a great deal of crime at hotels statistically. And most importantly when someone chooses to stay at a hotel they take on that risk. When you rent an apartment and your neighbor rents on airbnb it’s not really part of the bargain, right?Now if you are talking about a roadside motel, where I am sure there are typical criminals stopping by now and then, then you are probably correct. Do hotels provide smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in every room?Hotels have central security staff and maintenance onsite my guess is 24×7 (at medium to major properties at least). And a front desk for that matter. And a well defined emergency procedure as well. Plus (as I pointed out elsewhere) people don’t cook in a typical hotel room (of course there are some hotel rooms with kitchenettes and my guess is that they are outfitted with carbon monoxide detectors).

  31. LE

    Do we want tourists who only have $150/night to spend on housing in NYC to rent a room in a flophouse or the apartment of a photographer who is away for a few weeks on a photo shoot?Well if you only have $150 a night then maybe you should choose a different city to visit. Or stay outside the city and take public transportation. NYC is an expensive city. Not everyone can get to visit or live there. It’s not some national park on anything like that. And even it it was that’s not the problem of the people who beat their brains out to make enough money to live there (overpaying for small places) to suffer from.

  32. Jack

    AirBnB works until bad things start happening. What if a terrorist rents through AirBnB an apartment in a building next door to a consulate to carry out an attack? Did the apartment owner have a duty to make sure they weren’t renting out to terrorists? What if someone who rents through AirBnB burns down the apartment they’re staying in through negligence? Or one of their guests physically hurts or kills someone living in another apartment? How about a guest brings on a bed bug infestation and infects the whole building? Can the landlord and the tenants sue AirBnB or the person renting out the apartment? How about instead of bed bugs it was a norovirus? The possibilities are endless.

    1. PhilipSugar

      This is correct and unfortunately its why everything doesn’t scale. When you have a small community it works really well, but eventually if you get big enough bad people get into the mix. Sometimes it feels like this place (Fred’s) has gotten too big, I see an ugly comment below.

      1. ErikSchwartz

        If AirBnB does not scale AirBnB is going to have some very unhappy late stage investors who are betting on the market cap going from $10B to $20B.

      2. LE

        but eventually if you get big enough bad people get into the mix.I went to a private school with 100 kids per class. My sister’s public school had 1000 kids per class.The scale issue relates to the statistical chance of something bad happening with a larger set of participants.My sister’s school had all sorts of rules and regulations they had to follow that we didn’t.Sure the student body was different.But also the fact that they had 10 times the students per class meant that they were more likely to have a bad event that led to a rule being in place to prevent a bad event from happening again. Because that is the way the world works, right?Something happens then we put some procedure or rules in place to prevent it from happening again.This also happens with businesses. If you run a business with a small customer base it’s not the same as having 1000x the customers and 10x the employes (who can themselves fuck something up meaning you now have to prevent it from happening again). Also the reason that large corporations don’t give employees the discretion that smaller companies can. Because statistically you will have some bad outcomes. Larger base means quicker to that bad outcome (3 months vs. maybe 10 years).

  33. andyidsinga

    i stayed in an air bnb in nyc …in east village. It was a great experience and one I’m not sure would even exist in a hotel. Im convinced its a cultural experience as much as a transaction around a place to sleep. so many of the reviews i read talked, in a very personal way, about how accommodating and helpful their hosts were. we had the same.our room was $90. a night – very affordable, and we spent a bunch of our remaining travel money eating at the restaurants seems, air bnb must be a good hing for neighborhood businesses, and most definitely a good thing for outsiders impressions of the folks in nyc.

    1. mlr3000

      All that is true. The immediate neighbors, however, might not care about the neighborhood benefit. They might just wish to have you not be there. And that’s not an unreasonable position for them to stake out.

  34. Matt Zagaja

    When people buy or rent a house/condo/apartment they are buying into a type of community and norms and expectations that come with it. People are not going to be sympathetic to the homeowner who buys next to an existing fraternity house when he complains that they’re hosting all night parties on Friday and Saturday.I think there is a difference between someone renting out an AirBnb for a few weeks a year versus a property owner using AirBnb to rent a place the entire year. In one scenario the nuisances will only be passing and abutting property owners will deal with it the way they might deal with someone hosting a large graduation party.Ultimately the solution that makes the most sense to me is for private contracts to decide which communities are AirBnb friendly and which are not. If a building owner is ok with AirBnb then he can let his tenants use it, and if he is not then he can prohibit it and this expectation is set within the community before anyone signs a rental agreement. If the neighbors dislike it then they will move to another community that prohibits AirBnb renting. Government should not privilege AirBnb by setting a policy allowing renters to use it in spite of contracts to the contrary, nor disadvantage them by prohibiting it. People who use it in spite of their rental contracts will of course be liable for breach and subject to eviction.Then it’s up to AirBnb to try and create a pleasant experience for all involved so that people will want to use its service. The rating system is a good step, but clearly not bullet-proof. Maybe they have a mechanism called AirBnb neighbor services that processes complaints in real time (the way you’d call a hotel front desk about noise next door) and handles the situation.

    1. LE

      Agree 100%. Very well put.Would also say that it’s important that, as is done with other things, the fact that a building is able to be sub rented be specifically pointed out (and not buried somewhere) to advise or warn potential tenants along with language (plain simple language) which addresses clearly the pros and cons of the situation that a renter (or owner) in that building is getting involved in. In other words clear disclosure. Not written by lawyers either. And also keeping in mind grandfathering of existing tenants with expectations as well.Not safe to assume that all renters (either because of age or experience) are aware of the pitfalls of getting involved in a property that can be sublet in this manner.

  35. Antone Johnson

    Hotels don’t exactly verify identity of guests, but in general they have (1) somebody’s payment card authorized if not actually charged in advance, (2) 24-hour desk/doorman, (3) staff accustomed to short-term occupancy in each of scores or hundreds of rooms, (4) access controls like electronic keys and elevator floor limits set accordingly, (5) safes required by law for valuables, and (6) a wide variety of commercial regulations to comply with — all of which are reassuring in a dense urban environment like NYC.Perhaps most importantly in my view, hotels have deep pockets, hefty commercial insurance policies and are therefore attractive targets for lawsuits. As businesses they also have reputations to maintain. These are powerful financial incentives to self-police in whatever ways make sense under the circumstances.I’m a big believer in incentive-based regulation of most markets. That said, if authorities don’t agree upon and adopt reasonable rules to govern Airbnb-type rentals, the market will do it for them in the least efficient way: Through endless lawsuits. Given sheer volume in a city like NY, there will soon be a test case for everything imaginable.

    1. LE

      All great points.As businesses they also have reputations to maintain.And specifically that reputation is per large venue with much to lose from, say, crowd sourced reviews vs. what an individual has to lose by the same reviews.[1] Which is pretty much up to their sole discretion and generally not under any scrutiny by another manager, individual or even large corporate hotel franchise system.[1] While it may be somewhat difficult to have a new lessor or lessee profile for the purpose of a “do over” on review sites (if you have received poor ratings) it is almost certainly more way less difficult than re-branding your hotel in order to do the same thing.

    2. PhilipSugar

      Ok. As a person that stays in a hotel room well over 50 nights a year.Tell me. When have you not been required to show id at the front desk.This is total bullshit. I get greeted by name and show id to a person.Great talking point by Airbnb but total bullshit.

  36. beth

    my building board shut down my 3-4 weeks year Airbnb “operation” — renting to visiting parents of people in my neighborhood who had newborn babies they wanted to see!! I fought, was fined, and threatened with more exorbitant fines and potential fights in court. It’s ludicrous…my own parents don’t visit NYC anymore, they refuse to pay +$300/night for a tiny hotel room. Collaborative consumption must win.

    1. LE

      renting to visiting parents of people in my neighborhood who had newborn babies they wanted to see!!Why does this matter? You seem to be saying that as if the reason someone is renting makes a difference. It doesn’ own parents don’t visit NYC anymore, they refuse to pay +$300/night for a tiny hotel room.Who is to blame for that? Is it your parents who have the money and don’t want to pay $300 per night? Or don’t have the money? Or you who decided to live in NYC? What does that have to do with any of the issues here? My parents don’t have to pay $300 per night to visit me because we don’t live far enough apart that they have to stay in a hotel to visit me.And if you lived across the country (or over the ocean) your parents would have to pay for an airplane ride and a hotel. My point being none of this matters as far as the issue of airbnb.NYC is expensive period. That’s why some people choose not to live there. There is no more space left. If you can’t afford it live somewhere else. (I don’t live there).

  37. Preston Pesek

    Property rights are address specific, and the rights that airbnb hosts seek to assert will eventually be governed building by building, not city by city. This is an interesting discussion for a city to engage in, but it’s implications will likely not result in a change of legislation at the city level. Zoning laws may beef up or modify the definition of what a hotel is, but it shouldn’t change that much. What will change is how building community by laws are written, and how residency in those buildings is marketed to prospective new residents. Those who want it, will let it in, those who don’t will seek to prohibit it with building specific governance. Those sensitive to the issue will study building specific policies, and values will change, address by address, as a result.

  38. Robin S

    No one can stop #innovation. We can make a difference by swamping the world with it.

  39. pbreit

    That’s a good question. Why, indeed, hasn’t AirBnB made any substantial proposals on how it thinks things ought to work given the range of serious issues (rental/HOA agreements, regulations/taxes, etc.)?

  40. ShanaC

    I’m more concerned about the whys.things are crazy expensive, but wages aren’t going up. People aren’t earning as much.The last time I heard of the middle class was taking people in was the beginning of ww2/end of the depression. I’m wondering if this is as much because of wage stagnation.

  41. Zaizhuang


  42. Christine Carter

    Why would I care how much some tourist is going to spend tonight on his accommodations in New York? Last I checked major cities in the US and elsewhere were not lacking tourism dollars, rather affordable housing for tenants. I really don’t care how Airbnb is working to protect tourists, when they are competing with residents over diminishing housing stock. Airbnb is not disrupting the hotel market, they are disrupting the residential rental market, and most residents want them out. So please, let’s not worry about out of towners who will have to pay a little more for their trip. Our right to live in our cities trump their rights to cheap vacations.And Fred, did you forget to mention that this activity is illegal – and for a good reason? No one, except Airbnb execs and people illegally renting their places to tourists want the laws – that were put in place to prevent this very practice – to change. If you ask neighbors suffering from Airbnb activity in their buildings, and people who can’t find an affordable apartment to rent because they are competing with budding, scofflaw hoteliers, we would probably sign up for even harsher laws, and definitely for the enforcement of current laws.

  43. fredwilson

    please. no derogatory or racist or ethnic slurs here at USV. i am tempted to delete this but i think i will just let your offensive words sit here as testament to your character or lack thereof

  44. Rachael

    Hey Dumas,Last time i checked Conrad Hilton and William Marriott weren’t at the Sedar.

  45. ShanaC

    I have a hotel somewhere…this is news to me!

  46. Jimbo Jones

    You think you are better than me? Does the truth about peoples character and motivations bother you more? I change it to Jew, but it means the same thing.

  47. fredwilson

    nope. everyone is equal here. i just don’t like slurs here at AVC. we are happy to have you. but you must be courteous and kind if you want to participate in this community.

  48. Jimbo Jones

    I change it. Sorry.

  49. fredwilson

    thanks for removing that offensive word. although the assertion you are making is not particularly great either

  50. Jimbo Jones

    Are you saying there are no Jewish owned hotels in all of Manhattan? Are you saying that Jew?

  51. Jimbo Jones

    You are a lot to learn about Jewish ethnic loyalty and how Jews favor their own in all circumstances, while at the same time calling whites racist for doing the same thing. You gotta open your eyes to the laughable frauds that are the Jews. Just take a peek.PS Donald Stirling is a Jew.

  52. mlr3000

    This whole sub-thread is ridiculously offensive, to be honest.

  53. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Don’t feed the trolls 🙂

  54. Jimbo Jones

    Good for you. Tell me how wonderful you are.

  55. ShanaC

    I was being sarcastic. I don’t own hotels. I’m too poor for that. I’m poor enough to qualify for food stamps at times. (i’m boostrapping a startup, while trying to find consulting work/a job to pay the bills…)I did grow up orthodox Jewish though. You’re right, there definitely is some racism in the Jewish community. I’ve walked out of situations where people have said to me “all the arabs are evil and want to kill all the Jews.”I wouldn’t necessarily say jews favor their own, particularly in business dealings. It depends for what though. I know (from actual experience) that there are jewish people, particularly in the chassidish community, who tend to favor not Jews for certain kinds of business dealings, particularly those involving data. (A friend of mine wanted me to bid for some consulting business with her boss. I was asked to go by my middle name, which is distinctly not Jewish sounding)I’m also an amateur scholar of religion and sociology. Unless the DA came from a very affliated family (and this being ny, and based on current Jewish population data from NY) it is really doubtful that he’d do anything for me just based on being Jewish. He probably has a close to 0 affiliation, or at least a very minor one. Even if he were, he’d still probably do nothing for me, because he doesn’t know me.As for the affliated people – I would say it is probably more like being in a very close knit church. Are you a member of a close knit church? I’m sure you’ve seen people do business dealings with each other based on shared church membership – it created a bond of trust (whether it is based on truth or not…that’s a different story)As for Judaism itself for being separatist – there is some truth to that. The historical context for why that happened is super complicated. It nominally has to do with how the Roman Republic was changing into the Roman Empire, the Roman concept of state religion, the idea of god at that time universally, Egyptian politics, Assyrian Politics, Purity Laws and fights over purity laws, how christianity came into being, the rise of the western church, and a bunch of other stuff. if you look at it within historical context, there is also a lot of ambivalence depending on the person, time, and amount/types of contact involving the separatism factor.If you have any questions about jews and/or judaism feel free to ask. I’d be happy to answer.