Prying Eyes Are Watching Airbnb Customers as Tenants Fight Back

In a gentrifying neighborhood of San Francisco, a couple exit their cab and head toward an apartment, rolling suitcases behind them. Unbeknownst to them, a private investigator by the name of Michael Joffe sits in his parked car just across the street, discreetly snapping pictures. This is not a divorce case waiting to happen or an international spy caper. Nothing that salacious or mysterious. It is instead an episode that provides a window into how bitter the feud between struggling tenants and home-sharing websites like Airbnb Inc. has become. Joffe works for a tenant lawyer who in turns represents a family that was evicted from their apartment — the one that the couple was entering that day.

Full Story: Prying Eyes Are Watching Airbnb Customers as Tenants Fight Back – Bloomberg

The Oakland Fire: Why over-occupancy and adequate code enforcement should matter

A devastating fire. Thirty-six lives lost. A community reeling.

Less than one week after a blaze ripped through a ramshackle warehouse known as the Ghost Ship, this shocked city is grappling with an array of questions about what precisely happened, many of them deeply troubling.

• Could the city have done more to prevent the Ghost Ship fire? What did the city know about the violations at the warehouse? Did it follow up on citations?

• Should this tragedy result in more crackdowns on illegal housing in Oakland?

Full Story: The Oakland Fire: Delving Into What Happened, and Why – The New York Times

Message to Tech Firms From Palo Alto Mayor: Go Away. Please. – The New York Times

There’s a back story to the spotty cell reception in the heart of Silicon Valley: the city’s very mixed feelings about the influx of tech companies.

In an election year, with nearly constant squawking from presidential candidates about well-paying jobs, the mayor of Palo Alto has an unusual message for some of the cash-flush tech companies based here: Go away. Please.

“Big tech companies are choking off the downtown,” Mayor Patrick Burt said. “It’s not healthy.”

Read More: Message to Tech Firms From Palo Alto Mayor: Go Away. Please. – The New York Times

Airbnb Probably Isn’t Driving Rents Up Much, At Least Not Yet

Airbnb and other short-term rental platforms have been a boon to travelers in recent years… But as such platforms have grown, housing advocates have become increasingly concerned that what’s good for visitors is bad for residents … they are exacerbating already severe housing shortages in cities such as New York and San Francisco, driving up rents.

But a FiveThirtyEight analysis of Airbnb booking and revenue data … shows that Airbnb’s impact is probably still small in most cities, but it also shows that a disproportionately large share of the company’s revenue comes from the listings that most worry its critics — homes that are rented out for a large portion of the year. That could give the company an incentive to focus on increasing such listings as it grows — something some experts believe may already be happening.

Source: Airbnb Probably Isn’t Driving Rents Up Much, At Least Not Yet –fivethirtyeight.com

Former Boulder co-op activists go national, after they’ve moved out of town

Another national YIMBY reporter accepts the co-op advocates story at face value: Boulder, Colorado’s Picklebric show why expensive cities need group housing.

At least he found one quote for the opposing viewpoint, unlike the Daily Camera:

It wasn’t a question of whether the house was properly managed, anyway, neighbor Steven Meier wrote in the Camera, so much as the sheer number of people:  “High-density boarding houses are simply incompatible with single-family residential neighborhoods. Nobody cares whether the occupants of the over-occupied boarding house have democratic meetings or are ruled by an authoritarian matriarch. The problem is the number of people per square yard, the temporary nature of most of the occupants, and the hostel/airbnb-like operation, that is most troubling to the neighbors.”

And he found a wonderful quote from the Boulder City Attorney:

“We’ve purposely not enforced because overoccupancy serves a purpose,” City Attorney Tom Carr told the Daily Camera.

I count eight people, plus the guy holding the camera. (Photo credit: Ethan “Dumpster Diver” Welty)

Source: Boulder, Colorado’s Picklebric show why expensive cities need group housing – slate.com

Susan Osborne: Rebuttal to NYTimes Boulder Story

In response to that recent NYTimes article about growth in Boulder:

Susan Osborne, a former mayor of Boulder, Colo., says zoning and land use regulations have not necessarily promoted inequality.

Source: Bigger and More Equal Cities – NYTimes.com

Developers Aren’t Going to Solve the Housing Crisis in San Francisco

The authors deconstruct and refute supply-side myths about how to create affordable housing in San Francisco – or any city – and propose some new approaches to affordable housing.

Source: Developers Aren’t Going to Solve the Housing Crisis in San Francisco