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A North Idaho county will lead next attack on sharing economy

A North Idaho county will lead next attack on sharing economy

Reina Rodriguez
December 7, 2015

Government busybodies constantly search for ways to contaminate the sharing economy and ruin exciting, innovative products and services developed in the free market.

Even in conservative Idaho.

These attacks aren’t entirely new. Just before Idaho’s 2014 legislative session, Boise forbade Uber from charging riders within city limits. Sadly, the City of Trees fell in line with bigger liberal cities such as New York and Los Angeles to restrict Uber and others like it.

Thankfully, the Idaho Legislature stripped Boise of its pseudo power to intervene in the free market.

Although the Legislature protected one piece of the newly born sharing economy, Kootenai County will soon attempt to thwart another segment with an attack on AirBnb and the vacation-home rental market.

Coeur d’Alene, one of North Idaho’s lakeside communities, is a perfect oasis for Airbnb and other similar services. Kootenai County, according to a recent Coeur d’Alene Press article, will propose an ordinance on vacation rentals that only serves to loot private homeowners looking to make a couple extra bucks.

A recent minor code violation for a Mica Bay home led Kootenai County commissioners to go down this path, which will lead to higher taxes, more government regulation and intrusion into the private affairs of homeowners who use services like AirBnB

Officials say the proposed ordinance will, “hold homeowners more accountable for their guests and clarify existing laws.”

It will also put government’s hand deeper into taxpayers’ pockets. The ordinance may cost homeowners between $50 and $150 a year, the article said.

According to the Coeur d’Alene Press article, through government regulation, Kootenai County’s Development Director David Callahan and commissioners want to, “level the playing field between short-term rentals and businesses such as bed and breakfasts and hotels" and require taxes to be paid and impose safety regulations that businesses are subject to..

This is just more government as usual. Instead of allowing innovative ideas to flourish, thereby helping residents prosper, these folks just need to involve themselves in something that’s just not their business.

And it will likely hurt consumers, homeowners and the regional economy as a whole.

According to Airbnb’s own data, consumers stay 2.1 times longer at their destination when they use Airbnb and spend 2.1 times more than the typical visitors who frequent traditional hotels and motels. Airbnb suggests 52 percent of hosts are low-to-moderate income and 48 percent of host income is used to pay for regular household expenses such as rent and groceries.

In a Boston University research paper, “The Rise of the Sharing Economy: Estimating the Impact of Airbnb on the Hotel Industry,” the authors suggested the sharing economy benefits all consumers, too. The study revealed that AirBnb’s competitors, typically low-cost hotels, lowered their prices to stay competitive.

Callahan suggested government needs to level the playing field, but research shows the field levels itself without government’s help.

Kootenai County, like many others, has a desire to break the sharing economy and collect a plethora of futile fees. “Leveling the playing field” is just statist vernacular for government subduing the free market and hurting consumers.

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