Renting isn’t sharing

Share conference outlines the possibilities and pitfalls for a new economy at the crossroads.

Last week’s two-day Share conference in San Francisco came at an auspicious moment for companies that define themselves as part of the new “sharing economy,” which ranges from peer-to-peer services and products brokered online to various cooperative ventures designed to minimize resource consumption…

Most of these growing companies are part of San Francisco’s technology industry, using web-based interfaces to conduct their economic transactions. And some have been making local enemies and headlines recently by disrupting key aspects of urban life, from Airbnb impacting the housing and hotel markets to Lyft and Uber upending the taxi industry.

In fact, the biggest battle brewing at City Hall these days is over widely watched legislation by Board of Supervisors President David Chiu to regulate and legalize the short-term rentals facilitated by Airbnb and similar companies. And state agencies based in San Francisco are now working on regulations that would affect Lyft and its ilk…


“I believe we are becoming the capital of the sharing economy,” Chiu said, citing examples of San Francisco’s “ethos of sharing” that include the Summer of Love, Burning Man, and the fact that “we are a community that wants to foster trust among strangers to build what I think is one of the most amazing cities in the entire world. But we’re also a city that is expensive. The rent is too damn high.”…

“Shareable housing has both helped and exacerbated our housing crisis,” Chiu said, describing how he spent more than a year working on legislation that would regulate and legalize short-term housing rentals in San Francisco, where they are now considered illegal “hotel conversions” (see “Into thin air,” 8/6/13, and dozens of other Guardian stories and blog posts on the issue).

Chiu’s legislation would require Airbnb hosts to register with the city, rent out only their primary residence, and occupy that space for at least 275 days per year (which Chiu has said limits Airbnb hosts to just 90 rental nights per year, although critics dispute that interpretation)… (more)

We applaud this article covering a subject that needs a lot more discussion, but why were the SFMTA and their vehicle sharing ventures omitted from the discussion. The SFMTA is setting up public private partnerships with BMW and others, that include  plans to “take” public parking from public use and hand it over to “selected” private partners.

Privatization and commercialization of public property has not gone unnoticed.

There are a number of voter efforts gearing up to strip the autonomous  powers from the SFMTA, but so far only one has gotten to the critical stage of gathering signatures for the November ballot. If you are one of many who feel that all car shares are rentals and the public streets belong to everyone, you may want to let the Supervisors know and sign the Restore Transformation Balance Initiative to put the matter to the voters in November.
Details are here:

2 thoughts on “Renting isn’t sharing

  1. “plans to “take” public parking from public use and hand it over to “selected” private partners”
    That’s legalizing theft. I’ve been robbed by 3 corporations in the last 2 months: no refunds.
    “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore” – from Network (1976)
    It was cynical, now it’s true. It’s high time to start shootin’ em. (This is protected free speech)
    Howard Beale got dead for having low ratings…Paddy Chayefsky did it. Let’s all do it.


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