Open Letter to Airbnb

C.C. de Vere

C.C. de Vere

· 5 min read

Dear Airbnb,

Can we talk?

There was absolutely nothing wrong with the original intention of Airbnb - renting out a couch, guest bed, or even a sleeping bag on the floor. Or, hell, a tent in the backyard. Life is expensive, and I get the appeal of making a little extra money here and there.

Whole-house rentals are fine and dandy when the host actually lives there and just wants to offset the cost of a trip or weekend away.

But that's not how things have gone. You know it, I know it, everyone knows it.

More and more hosts with the means to do so have taken housing off the market entirely, purely to rent out to tourists. Residents need that housing, and the need is particularly acute in and around Los Angeles.

I have found real-estate listings from Beverly Hills to San Pedro, listing houses as active Airbnbs booked months in advance. I have seen vile and appalling proof of greedy hosts taking RSO apartments off the rental market - robbing the community of desperately needed affordable housing - just to rent them out to tourists willing and able to pay an inflated rate.

Do you uppity San Franciscans somehow not realize this is wrong, or do you just not care?

Tourists can stay in hotels (real ones). That is why hotels exist in the first place. (Frankly, with the increasingly ridiculous rules and exorbitant fees I keep hearing about, they SHOULD stay in hotels if for no other reason than to save money and actually enjoy their trips.) Where, exactly, do you all expect displaced residents to live?

I wish to add that having an Airbnb in a residential neighborhood can make that neighborhood unlivable.

My parents bought a fixer in a tranquil neighborhood near a canyon, expecting relative peace and quiet. To their consternation, they were kept awake until VERY late at night, pretty much every night, the following summer. As it turned out, the owners of the house behind theirs rented it out for the entire summer to a bunch of loud, inconsiderate drunks. How would all of YOU like to experience NIGHTLY sleep deprivation for MONTHS?

The fact that there are MANY similar stories about vacation rentals causing noise, messes, congestion, and even conflict in residential communities (such as fights over parking spaces that residents need and that visitors have no business using) indicates that their experience is far from unique. Again, this is why hotels exist (and are usually not too close to residential properties).

Tourists contribute nothing but tourist dollars. Full-time renters are members of the community and contribute so much more than money (although they do contribute that, too - and more of it).

Making money, in and of itself, isn't a bad thing. Making money in a way that harms an innocent person, or an entire community, sure as hell is. Do you realize how many renters are competing for a shrinking supply of affordable housing - and how many of them want Airbnb banned from LA entirely because of the damage it has done?

(Oh, and before you nastily and falsely accuse me of having anything to do with the hotel industry like you did with Better Neighbors LA: I don't, I've never contacted anyone in the hotel industry unless it was to book a room or report a problem with my stay, and two of my last three hotel experiences were negative while the third was just meh.)

Which brings me to the elephant in the rent-stabilized room: gentrification.

Numerous studies going back several years have linked an increased Airbnb presence to gentrification. But you already knew that, right?

Homelessness has risen exponentially in Los Angeles. While a number of factors can cause a housed person to end up on the streets, the leading cause is not being able to afford housing. And that situation is only being made worse by the short-term rental explosion.

People all over the country, particularly in or near vacation destinations, are reporting the same problem: no one can find an affordable place to live because too much housing has been snatched up and turned into de facto hotels.

Let me ask you something: where, precisely, do you all expect the people waiting on your customers during their trips (i.e. restaurant servers, flight attendants, store clerks, valets, tour guides, ski lift attendants, lifeguards, theme park workers, etc.) to actually LIVE?

Your company helped make this giant mess. Your company should be among the first to help clean it up.

So come on outside, Airbnb.

I just want to talk.

C.C. de Vere

About C.C. de Vere

C.C. is a fourth-generation Angeleno and is horrified at what greed and hubris are doing to Los Angeles.

This website was built by her preservation pals at Esotouric.

Copyright © 2024 EMPTY LOS ANGELES. All rights reserved.
Powered by Vercel
Purchase Pro ↗