Boston’s Airbnb Debate

Here we go again, folks.

In a recent Boston Globe article about the growing chorus of local lawmakers upset by the website’s facilitation of commercial operators, Airbnb co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk offered the following insight:

“There are certainly difficult issues, and we’re not trying to avoid them.”

He continued, “But we are asking that we have a conversation about them, so that we can come up with innovative solutions and not simply do things as they were once done, because that will stifle this new economy that’s emerging.”

Oh? That’s interesting.

Because everything Airbnb has done over the past year – hid data to mislead New York City, bullied city officials in Chicago, and sued San Francisco to avoid following a law it helped pass – doesn’t really paint a portrait of a company that wants to have a good faith conversation about the difficult issues. It DOES, however, sound like a company that’s, well, “trying to avoid them.”

Boston lawmakers are raising concerns that Airbnb and other short-term rental platforms are “helping property owners remove permanent housing from an already tight market and disrupting residential neighborhoods.”

Airbnb says its willing to play ball, but we’ll believe it when we see it, especially considering Airbnb has already paid “more than $100,000 for law firm Nutter McClennen & Fish to argue its case with state officials.”

That’s a pricey conversation.