Good news for property rights in Palm Springs, California—residents of the popular tourist destination overwhelmingly voted down a proposal, Measure C, that would have banned home-sharing in single-family homes. In recent years, the internet has created new economic opportunities by connecting property owners and renters through home-sharing platforms like Airbnb and Homeaway, providing cheaper and better options for travelers and allowing homeowners to earn some extra cash by renting out a room or their home. But not everyone is embracing these opportunities.
The anti-home-sharing group pushing Measure C in Palm Springs believed the city’s existing regulations to be too lenient, claiming the influx of tourists are disrupting neighborhoods and causing noise and traffic problems. Actually, diverting valuable public resources to policing home-sharing and negotiating petty arguments between neighbors instead of enforcing existing anti-nuisance laws may make things worse by fostering “underground” rentals and creating an atmosphere of snooping and suspicion.
That’s one reason voters in another California city popular among tourists, San Francisco, rejected a 2015 ballot initiative that would have restricted short-term rentals to seventy-five days a year, regardless of whether the homeowner was present during the rental period, forced homeowners to submit quarterly home-sharing reports to the city, and allowed neighbors to sue people who rent their homes. The following year, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee vetoed an ordinance that would have capped home-sharing at sixty days a year, because it “risk[ed] driving even more people to illegal rent units.” These restrictions threatened to turn neighbors into spies watching over each other’s back fences to ensure that the guests are just friends rather than home-sharing customers.
Read more about the costs and consequences of anti-home-sharing measures from Goldwater Institute Executive Vice President Christina Sandefur.
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