Regarding the Nov. 22 news article “ Raleigh to cite Airbnb user”: I am the Five Points homeowner at the center of the Raleigh Airbnb issue. I am also a tech journalist.
I’m passionate about the need for cities to do the right thing when it comes to services like Airbnb, Uber and Lyft. In the case of Raleigh, if the city gets this wrong, all its great work to attract new companies (often tech companies) to relocate to Raleigh may go down the drain.
Earlier this year, Mayor Nancy McFarlane blogged about the warm reception she hoped to get from companies at SXSW in March as she and her team tried to encourage businesses to relocate to Raleigh. But if the city bans Airbnb, I can almost hear the conversation at next year’s SXSW now: “Raleigh? Wait. Didn’t you just ban Airbnb?”
Of course, there’s another side to this story. As many cities like Raleigh work to position themselves as tech hubs, they should look at services like Airbnb and Uber and Lyft as a powerful way to encourage residents to dive in and learn about and participate in the local entrepreneurial culture for themselves. Services like these and others, like Kickstarter, do a great job of helping people take their first entrepreneurial step, and taking that first step can have profound impacts on many areas of a person’s life and therefore the community around him.
There’s no denying that finding ways to make Airbnb, Uber, Lyft and other similar companies part of the community will be challenge. There are some in the community, like hotels and taxi companies, that have their own legitimate concerns. But today, business models are always changing. And that’s good. We as a community should look at services like Airbnb, Uber and Lyft as powerful ways to show new companies that Raleigh embraces these changes, and to encourage residents and existing companies to dive in and participate in the local entrepreneurial culture for themselves.
For all of us, it’s the way forward. I encourage all residents of Raleigh to take the time to understand all sides of the issues surrounding companies Airbnb, Uber and Lyft and to support our city leaders as they weigh the concerns of all parties to find solutions that are the wisest and most strategic options possible.
The length limit was waived to permit a fuller response to the issue.