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Airbnb-Affiliated Lobbying Group Defeats Venice's Attempt To Regulate Vacation Rentals In Los Angeles

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Charming, beachy Venice is a popular spot for vacation rentals, and way more now that vacation rental site Airbnb has made it super-easy for anyone to rent out an extra room (often tax-free!), so a few months back the Venice Neighborhood Council decided to look into the impact short-term rentals are having on the neighborhood. Their report on the matter (pdf) found, basically, that there are hundreds of vacation rentals listed for rent in Venice, that vacation rentals aren't consistently regulated by the city of Los Angeles, that they're technically prohibited in neighborhoods zoned for single-family houses and duplexes, that the city attempts to collect taxes on some of them anyway, and that some landlords are switching regular rentals to short-term rentals because it's more lucrative. So for all those reasons, a motion (pdf) was proposed asking City Councilmember Mike Bonin to ask the LA City Council to study and maybe regulate short-term rentals. (Unlike the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council, Venice did not ask for a ban on short-term rentals.) Last week, the motion was defeated.

Wow, that's way out of character for pretty much any neighborhood council in Los Angeles. How'd that happen? Turns out it was the work of Peers--the group that is helping fight the ban on short-term vacation rentals in Silver Lake and that lobbied for California's loosely-regulated legalization of ridesharing companies like Lyft. Peers is an "advocacy group" cofounded by an Airbnb employee that fights for the rights of "sharing economy" (aka "paying for shit economy") corporations like Airbnb, Lyft, and TaskRabbit--but not for the rights of the actual people who do the sharing, driving their own cars for Lyft or renting out their places on Airbnb. It's funded at least in part by investors and executives at many of those "sharing" companies, and, while it's been widely-reported that Peers is a nonprofit, it actually has no 501(c) tax-exempt status and even includes an explicitly for-profit subsidiary. (Peers' head has also said the organization won't lobby for legislation, but that seems at the very least misleading in light of their actual work.)

Anyway, according to a Peers email, "With little advanced notice, around 40 Peers members attended the [Venice Neighborhood Council] meeting to demand that the council protect home-sharing." Well, not "protect"--they prevented the VNC from making a request that vacation rentals be properly regulated in the city (they've been fighting an Airbnb crackdown in New York too). But hey, LA has 95 neighborhood councils, so they've got some work ahead.
· Short Term Vacation Rental Report [VNC]
· Silver Lakers Want to Ban Airbnb Rentals in Their Neighborhood [Curbed LA]