Tag Archives: New York

Airbnb vs. NYC

The short-term rentals that actualized with the creation of Airbnb are under fire from officials in New York City. The New York legislature, with pressure from the hotel industry, just passed a bill Friday that would make it illegal to advertise certain apartment units and homes for rental of less than 30 days.

The bill would fine violators up to $1,000 for the first offense and up to $7,500 for subsequent offenses. The problem with regulating companies so heavily is that it ruins the contracts held between private individuals. Home-sharing services do not deal with multiple renters or multiple properties, so the transaction between individuals would be the same if a friend were renting your extra room for a week. Airbnb has become the platform to match homeowners and renters, and now New York decided that it needed to step in.

The thing is, New York already banned the short-term apartment rental, in efforts to crackdown on illegal hotels. This new bill, however, effectively targets the business model of Airbnb, making many of the properties up for rent from individuals in New York now “illegal hotels.” Rather than allowing Airbnb, as a business, to kick illegal hotel renters off their site, the state took over and now makes the calls on which home-sharing transactions are legitimate.

This even applies to the homeowner who donates his profit from Airbnb to charities fighting cancer.

The complete disregard for responsible Airbnb users is exactly the issue with regulations on such nuanced services. Services like Airbnb and Uber run on a ratings system, which allows for consumers to choose their suppliers based on their rating and reviews. This model weeds out the bad suppliers and incentivizes other users to provide better service.

The services that companies like Airbnb and Uber provide are merely connecting suppliers with consumers. Airbnb itself doesn’t own properties and rent them out. Uber doesn’t have a fleet of cars in every city that people drive for the business. The means of providing the service are completely privately own, so why do governments believe they have the authority to regulate private sharing services between individuals?

Uber’s New York Win

After a nearly two-month delay, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office on Friday released its study on Uber and other for-hire vehicle (or ridesharing) companies. The mayor’s report does not support his previously-proposed 1% cap on the annual growth of ridesharing companies. The stated reason for his cap was concerns over ridesharing’s effect on Manhattan traffic.

The report, for which the consulting firm McKinsey was paid $2 million, is a stunning turnaround from de Blasio’s position in July. To support his proposed cap, de Blasio penned an oped for the New York Daily News titled “A Fair Ride for New Yorkers.” Referring to Uber, he wrote, “No company’s multi-billion-dollar political war chest gives it a blank check to skirt vital protections and oversight for New Yorkers.”

Read the rest on Forbes here.

Albany shouldn’t play doctor

New York’s medical marijuana program is a step in the right direction, but the regulations involved will inhibit patients’ access to medicine, and leave New Yorkers asking, “What are lawmakers in Albany smoking?”

The problems start with the requirement that Albany play doctor. There are 10 approved ailments, including cancer, HIV and AIDS, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, and epilepsy, for which marijuana can be prescribed.

At the bottom of this short list is the phrase “any other condition added by the [Commissioner of Health].” But why should a single person have sole responsibility for determining what ailments can be treated with medical marijuana?

The current health commissioner, Howard A. Zucker, may be a doctor, but the problem is he’s not your doctor. When you’re sick or need a physical, you don’t go see the commissioner; you see your own doctor. Your doctor knows your personal circumstances, which can only be gained through meeting and talking to you. Your doctor is in a better position to recommend treatments than the commissioner will ever be. The commissioner also doesn’t know your medical history and he’s incapable of monitoring your reaction to a particular drug.

Who does this hurt the most? The patients who are unable to receive treatment because their illness is not on the list.

The law, much less a single bureaucrat, should not be responsible for deciding what should be prescribed to a sick patient.

More problems arise from Albany deciding who gets to grow medical marijuana and who doesn’t. All interested applicants must first pay a nonrefundable application fee of $10,000. On top of that, there’s a registration fee of $200,000.

That means that if you’re looking to grow and sell medical marijuana in New York, it will cost you $210,000. If you want to keep growing in New York, you’ll have to pay that same amount every two years when your license expires.

Read the full article at the Albany Times Union ($).