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Airbnb is under attack by the city of San Diego and a number of residents who seem to think the service isn’t fit for residential neighborhoods.
In a commentary for Voice of San Diego, one resident made the case against short-term rentals, noting increased crime, noise, parking problems and trash as consequences of Airbnb rentals, and said Airbnb owners cut corners to offer rates cheaper than hotels.
I sincerely doubt the author has used Airbnb to travel given how far off the mark these comments are.
I’m an Airbnb host in North Park. Over the past year we’ve hosted 126 guests at our cottage property, in addition to visits from friends and family. We’ve had guests from all over the world – United Arab Emirates, China, Sweden, France, Arizona, North Carolina, Illinois, New York, Washington, and many others. We’ve hosted people looking to move to San Diego, searching for apartments, enjoying retirement, on business trips and family vacations. Currently we’re hosting the parents of friends who just had their first child and wanted the grandparents close by during the first months.
We’ve used the money we’ve earned from renting our cottage to pay off our student loans, save money for retirement, make capital improvements to the cottage and our home, and save for a trip to Germany this summer. The earnings have allowed us to have one parent at home with our small children.
Airbnb provides a premium experience for travelers, not a discount budget trip. That is what’s driving the rapid growth in the industry. My brother went on his honeymoon and used Airbnb. My parents are currently on a dream vacation to the Hawaiian islands, using Airbnb. Last summer my in-laws took a trip to Europe. The highlight? An Airbnb stay in Krakow.
These are not trips looking for the lowest cost option. They’re trips looking for an authentic, memorable experience. That is what Airbnb provides and the traditional hoteliers cannot. As this map of Airbnb properties shows, people want to live like a local when they visit, not stay in a plain, isolated Hotel Circle room with no residents or attractions nearby. They want to see what being a San Diegan is like and that’s a great thing – an opportunity to show why this is a fantastic place to live.
Airbnb is also a safe system, with dynamic two-way ratings for both hosts and guests. Both parties have a vested interest in abiding by the rules.
If a person stays at a typical hotel and has a bad experience, they can complain. That’s the extent of their recourse. If an Airbnb host provides a bad experience, complaints are public for all to see – they affect the rating of the host, and negatively impact the search results for the host. The same goes for guests – they can be dinged for bad behavior. Additionally, every guest I host must have provided a valid government ID to book with me, in addition to credit card, address, phone number and email.
Instead of cracking down on immensely beneficial platforms like Airbnb, the city should embrace and enhance the experience of all visitors by offering best practices and partnering with local businesses to drive our economy.
The city shouldn’t double down on hotels that provide a generic experience, send the profits out of our city and pay the lowest possible wages. I welcome all my guests with San Diego craft beer and a binder of local restaurants and shops I recommend– all locally owned. Does Marriott, Hilton, Super 8 or Best Western do the same?
The complaints against Airbnb also ignore the point that many, if not most, of the properties offered are rooms in a home with the owner present or homes of residents who are out of town. This is an efficient use of existing resources, not a depletion of housing stock in a high-priced market.
This also undercuts the anecdotal claims that Airbnb is a site solely for bachelorette parties and other neighborhood-wrecking partiers. Craigslist similarly endured urban legend stories of theft, murder and mayhem in years past before becoming a mainstream platform. Novelty and innovation can be intimidating, but if San Diego truly wants to be known as a “hub for innovation” as Mayor Kevin Faulconer has said, we can’t ignore the enormous potential of a platform like Airbnb, especially in a city known for tourism.
Let’s let visitors see what it’s like in our great neighborhoods. They’re the places we call home. We should be proud and happy to share them with the world.
John Anderson is an Airbnb host. He lives in North Park. Anderson’s commentary has been edited for style and clarity. See anything in there we should fact check? Tell us what to check out here.