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Boulder's AirBnB Debate… Will It Ruin Your Chances For A Free Vacation?

The Boulder City council is in the process of deciding whether or not you’ll be able to legally rent your home through AirBnB or other sharing economy vacation rental sites (**see below). According to the Daily Camera, early this year 20 letter’s from Boulder’s zoning office were delivered to residents with cease-and-desist orders to stop renting their spaces via such sites, though the letter’s were later revoked. New York and San Francisco have already implemented strict requirements against short term rentals into their laws. Will Boulder do the same?

Although a sharing economy by most is looked upon as a big plus, especially to those 25,000,000 and counting AirBnB guests who have had a good experience, it has a dark side too. But what if I want to make a bit of cash when I’m already planning to be away from home, such as on a vacation or work trip, you ask? How can that be wrong? While people are preferring to stay at the often cheaper and more quaint AirBnB’s, the hotels are losing out on guests and governments are losing out on tax money (shame on both accounts, right?) Not unlike Uber, who had regulation issues and were fought by the Taxi companies, those that rent their space on AirBnB are being hunted down for not having safety restrictions like hotels do and for not paying hotel taxes.

A few bad apples are adding to the problem even further (the rotten fruit being people that buy or rent apartments strictly to rent them out to short term travelers for a profit). These folks are taking valuable property off of the available list, and for places with city growth restrictions and a low turnover rate like Boulder they are taking away precious possibilities for buyers and long-term residential renters alike. According to AirBnB founder Nathan Blecharczyk in a 2013 Washington Post article “87 percent of our hosts are renting out their primary home”. But is that still the case? And could those other 13% be enough to tip the scale in Boulder?

Aspen has already changed it’s policies, requiring property owners to get a license, pay tax on rental revenues, and designate someone local to deal with problems that could arise from guests. Within a year they gained 30 additional registrants and claim that those alone brought in $73,000, reports the Daily Camera.

That is precisely why Boulder is taking so long to decide. It is observing the local trends, watching how similar cities deal with the issue, and is writing a list of pros and cons. They want to make sure that by allowing people to rent their residences with certain restrictions that it will prevent driving up housing costs, keep the city safe, and perhaps put a little extra money in it’s pocket. Several proposals are being presented and on June 2 the City Council took “the unusual step of holding a public hearing on the first reading of an ordinance due to the high level of interest in the issue”. Boulder residents may be voting on the subject this November. Contact the City Council to get your concerns heard on this hot debate. http://boulderchamber.com/talk-city-council/

** THE SHARING ECONOMY is a socio-economic ecosystem built around the sharing of human and physical resources. It includes the shared creation, production, distribution, trade and consumption of goods and services by different people and organisations. - http://www.thepeoplewhoshare.com/blog/what-is-the-sharing-economy/

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