I’ve finally had the chance to look over the proposed ordinance going before the Sacramento Planning and Design Commission tonight. If you’ll recall, I previously blogged about this.
The good news is that the ordinance does not prohibit property owners or renters from renting their property on a short-term basis. The bad news is that several permit fees and taxes will now be imposed on them for the “privilege” of using their own property.
Fortunately, the requirement that the host remain on the property from 11 pm to 5 am appears to have been removed. My biggest issue going forward (at least until I see how much this is all going to cost your typical host) is the arbitrary limit to 90 days of bookings for hosts renting out a secondary residence. How did the city arrive at 90 days? And why?
While I’m happy to see the city taking the attitude of welcoming the business models of hosts using sites like Airbnb and VRBO, this ordinance still leaves much to be desired. I know I have unrealistic expectations, but I believe that all associated problems with these activities can be resolved with existing nuisance law. Further, treating people as ATMs who are simply hustling to make extra money is a tired approach to governance.
Instead of allowing the market and existing law to sort out any (mainly speculative) problems, this ordinance begrudgingly accommodates property rights and economic liberty. Only when city bureaucrats stop acting like city residents must ask permission for everything they do will we truly see economic growth take off.
Construction for the Kings’ new arena, Golden 1 Center, is moving right along. As with all downtown arenas, ample parking will be an important factor in the success of the arena as a popular venue. One inevitable byproduct of a multitude of parking garages in a limited area is the potential for people to forget which one they parked in. Apparently this routinely happens in the open lots at Sleep Train Arena.
To help address this problem once Golden 1 opens, the city of Sacramento has come up with an idea: install license-plate recognition cameras in city-owned garages, and provide a phone service for people to use that will tell them where their car is.
In theory this idea sounds pretty innovative. But, I have yet to find (granted I haven’t asked the city yet) any policies on how this data will be protected. For example, I’ve written before about many police department’s lack of policies on retention and use of license plate tracking software and data. In this case I would also be very interested in hearing how the city plans to make sure that only owners or authorized users of the vehicle are able to access the system. I also don’t think it’s unreasonable to be concerned about how this system could be abused by stalkers, abusive spouses, etc.
So, while I applaud the idea and think it could be used effectively, I am also eager to see how the city plans to protect the data. Specifically, I would like to see four things included in an official policy:
- A limited amount of time that the city stores the data
- Access to the data limited to necessary city personnel
- Safeguards to limit accessibility to vehicle location while a vehicle is parked
- Limits on sharing the data with other departments, agencies or governments
Making parking in downtown garages easier and more convenient is definitely welcome, but even more important is safeguarding the privacy of people who choose to use those garages. Hopefully the city will take these concerns seriously.
California’s next round of potential regulations on Airbnb and its competitors to be considered will take place December 10 in Sacramento. The Planning and Design Commission will hold a hearing that night to discuss and debate the latest regulatory proposal.
Included in the proposed regulations are the requirements that hosts register with the city and remit hotel taxes. Alarmingly, the most burdensome regulation is a requirement that the host remain at the property from 11pm to 5am, or face a permit fee of $3,000.
I haven’t had the chance to fully read over the proposed regulations and consider their impact. However, I will do so in anticipation of the Dec. 10 hearing, and plan to voice my concerns then, and on this blog beforehand.