Airbnb Claims 'Typical' L.A. User Makes $7,000 Per Year
Airbnb, America's favorite unregulated short-term lodging service that can kill you, is facing fire from local policy makers who want the company to, among other things, pay taxes just like hotels. One study estimates unpaid taxes could have accounted for $41 million in one year alone. The proposal by Councilman Mike Bonin and council President Herb Wesson also seeks to outlaw hosts who don't "live" in their unit because up to a third of hosts may not actually be residents of the units they are sub-leasing but, rather, speculators.
As part of a protracted tech PR war similar to the ones facing its Silicon Valley peers like Uber, Airbnb released a report including some vaguely-derived figures on Monday in an effort to mollify the criticisms levied against it. First, Airbnb claims a "typical" Los Angeles renter makes $7,000 a year. We'll never know how much of that is actually claimed, but, sure.
The report goes on to list other figures to prove its point, notably that "13% of hosts said that their income from hosting has prevented them from losing their home to foreclosure. And another 10% of hosts said that their income from hosting has saved them from losing their home to eviction." While that definitely plays on the heartstrings, that is an incidental consequence instead of an intended one. The report goes on to cite other proof that its service directly creates tourism booms while not confronting the larger question, "at the expense of what and whom exactly?" Space is at an all time premium, so shouldn't housing be a priority for the people who actually live in the city?
Is it a city's responsibility to bail out homeowners and renters that can't keep up on their payments in a difficult market? Or do we all benefit by treating this company like any other classic service industry?
Airbnb wants Angelenos to think that its business practices have no negative effect on the city's housing crisis and general ability for cities and neighborhoods to function, and that it actually makes things better across the board, which is certainly still up for debate.
(h/t LA Weekly)