Some Setbacks for the Sharing Economy

"Scrutiny of the so-called sharing economy seems to increase every day" and today it's in San Francisco, one of the collaborative economy's model cities.

The San Francisco city attorney sued two landlords Wednesday, claiming they illegally converted residential housing into short-term rentals that were advertised on Airbnb and similar services. The former residents, two of whom were disabled, were evicted using the Ellis Act, a controversial California law that allows landlords to reclaim properties for their own personal use.

 Jim Wilson/The New York Times  Dennis Herrera, San Francisco City Attorney

Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Dennis Herrera, San Francisco City Attorney

Ouch. While Airbnb states that this particular landlord has been banned from the using the site, it doesn't mean it won't happen again.

This isn't a new discussion, especially in San Francisco who is currently in the midst of an affordable housing crisis. "Housing advocates say the law is often abused by landlords seeking to cater to the lucrative tourist market".

Ride-sharing also continues to be a topic of constant scrutiny and platform Uber is currently under investigation by New York attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman for illegal price-gouging  (selling goods at higher than reasonable or fair prices). Schneiderman is also seeking information from Airbnb which ended in court (again) this last Tuesday. 

Check out the rest of the article from The New York Times Blog and let us know what you think. Are these setbacks only the beginning? How can a sharing economy services such as Uber and Airbnb prevent users from abusing services? And how should the law respond?

Seattle Suspends ride sharing regulations one month after passage

Just one month ago, Seattle City Council enacted new regulations on rideshare companies like Uber and Airbnb. Yesterday, Uber, Lyft and Sidecar submitted more than 36,000 signatures on a repeal petition forcing a public vote. An ordinance so challenged is suspended until the public vote.

The suspension — whatever happens in the future — is a major victory for companies offering an alternative to Seattle’s much-criticized taxicab service.

In a wider sense, it is a win for the city’s technology economy, which took to heart the cause of ride sharing, arguing that Seattle must be a 21st century city open to innovation and new ways of providing services.

This is huge news for not only Seattle ridesharing companies, but for the technology driven collaborative economy in general. A public voice this strong is an obvious indicator of the popularity of sharing economy services.

Check out the entire article on the Seattle Pi's Blog and let us know what you think. Is Seattle's response to city regulation only the beginning? 

Could the Renting and Sharing Economy Save Indian Cities?

Some seem to think so. Gautam Bhatia's recent article in the Times Of India talks about how government planning (or lack of) has failed Indian cities and the Sharing Economy has the potential to fix that. 

"If our cities have lived up to the expectations of our planners, it is because there were none. The current city is merely an agglomeration of accidental forces - migrating labour, entrenched middle classes, daily human toil, public expectation, random division of physical space, and attempts at law and order. "

Bhatia believes that Indian cities should follow China's lead in discouraging private home ownership and instead create rental housing.

"The Indian city needs similar serious physical and psychological measures. Buying a home in the centre of town and private car ownership are now both archaic and unfeasible. The future city can no longer be seen as a collective of purchasable products, but rather, as a service: a dense habitation where all facilities - home, car, office, shop - are available on rent. A permanent place where residence is impermanent. "

Check out the rest of the article here and let us know what you think. 

 

Why are people Sharing?

While the Sharing Economy has become increasingly popular you may have wondered why people are choosing sharing over ownership. In the Report "Sharing is the New Buying, Winning in the Collaborative Economy" by Jeremiah Owyang, Vision Critical and Crowd Companies they asked over 90,000 people why they share goods, services, space, transportation, and money. They found that the top reasons people participated in sharing was because it is more convenient, it has better value and it's a unique experience.

Check out the rest of study here and the recent dissection on why people share here and let us know what you think. Why do you share?

The 'Sharing' Hype - Do companies like Lyft and Airbnb help democratize the economy?

How can a movement that has been started by corporate and venture capital be any kind of socialism?

2013 marked significant growth in the new sharing economy, ride-sharing company Lyft saw a twenty fold increase in users and room-sharing platform Airbnb gained 6 million customers. Last year also exposed the legality issues of sharing services and has now intertwined the sharing economy with regulators. Currently, most legal focus is on ride-sharing (e.i. Lyft and Uber) and room-sharing (Airbnb). However the sharing economy has a directory of hundreds of different platforms that provide peer-peer sharing that have the potential to violate some sort of established regulation. The sharing economy has been referred to as an "ugly throwback to the dark days of socialism". The article by In These Times asks "Is the sharing economy in fact socialist, or in any way anti-capitalist?".

In these Times met with David Golumbia, assistant professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University and author of The Cultural Logic of ComputationNeal Gorenflo, co-founder and publisher of Shareable Magazine, and the SolidarityNYC collective to discuss the sharing conundrum. Check out the full article here and let us know what you think. Does the sharing economy encourage an anti-capitalist economy? Or a socialist one?