Barcelona just Declared War on Airbnb (and its Hosts)

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It is about protecting its own racket.

By Don Quijones, Spain & Mexico, editor at WOLF STREET.

I live in Barcelona, Spain, and two days ago, the strangest thing arrived in the mail: a sealed, unaddressed envelope bearing the blue stamp of the Barcelona city authorities. Inside was a sheet of paper with five shortish paragraphs explaining the Council’s decision to intensify its crackdown on “illegal” tourist apartments in the city.

Under a 2012 regional law, any apartment rented to visitors in Catalonia must be logged in the province’s Tourism Registry and have a permit. Unlicensed apartments “promote speculation, the underground economy, and could even threaten the harmonious and coexistence of resident communities” in the city, the letter warns.

In the last paragraph, the council urges local Barcelona residents to snitch on any neighbors who they believe are running illegal tourist accommodation operations in their buildings. Residents are invited to cross-check their neighbors’ apartments against an open-access database of the city’s registered tourist flats, and if their suspicions are confirmed, they can denounce their neighbors on a free, around-the-clock hot line.

Judging by how many of my friends and acquaintances have received the same letter, it’s safe to assume that it was sent out across the city. In other words, hundreds of thousands of Barcelona residents have just been asked to rat on their neighbors.

Raising the Stakes

This latest incendiary move significantly raises the stakes in a bitter war of words, threats, and actions between Barcelona City Council, headed by Ada Colau, the world’s “most radical mayor” (according to The Guardian), and the world’s biggest accommodation provider, Airbnb. In August last year, the Council warned that people caught running unlicensed apartments through websites would be offered the chance to have 80% of their fine cancelled if they allowed the city council to use the apartment as social accommodation for three years.

Since then, the Council has closed down 256 apartments that were being used as unlicensed tourist accommodation. The owners could face fines as high as €30,000. The Council also imposed a 20-fold hike in the maximum fine that can be levied on home rental sites to €600,000, after Airbnb and its rival Homeaway continued to advertise holiday apartments that did not have permits.

This is a frequent complaint across myriad jurisdictions, from New York to Amsterdam, to Stockholm and Berlin. For Airbnb, any further damage to its Barcelona market could be very costly. With 15,000 registered dwellings, the city is far and away the most popular Spanish destination for the platform’s users and is the fifth most popular global destination with guests.

But the San Francisco-based company faces an uphill challenge trying to charm Barcelona’s local populace. So incensed are residents that a recent city government poll found that respondents consider tourism a worse problem than poverty. Only unemployment and traffic ranked higher on their list of grievances.

And 2016 is a bumper year for tourism, as millions of international visitors shun destinations where security is a concern, such as Tunisia, Egypt, Turkey and even France. As such, the industry’s benefits and externalities are being felt even more sharply and more widely than ever before.

Over the Limit

A common complaint among residents is that the Barcelona they know and love has become a theme-parked city that is reaching the outer limits of its physical capacity — just as has happened with Venice, whose population has shrunk from 180,000 in the 1960s to less than 60,000 today, as more than 2 million visitors flood the city every year.

Barcelona’s tourism boom has brought with it a huge amount of money. According to Mastercard’s Global Destination Cities Index, Barcelona rakes in over $12 billion a year from tourism and is the third-ranked European city in terms of tourist expenditure, just behind the two global powerhouses of London and Paris. However, this money has come at a heavy price, as the documentary film Bye Bye Barcelona documents.

Rents in many neighborhoods are surging as real estate owners and developers refocus their attention on meeting the much more profitable needs of short-term visitors. Added to that, the sheer volume of tourist numbers are crowding out local residents from many of the city’s most attractive districts while putting unbearable strain on public services and the city’s private housing stock. In 2015 the city, with a total permanent population of 1.7 million, drew 8.3 million visitors (and that’s just those who stayed in hotels), almost a million more than the year before and a five-fold increase on the 1990 total.

“The center no longer belongs to us,” laments Manuel Delgado, an urban sociologist at Barcelona University. It’s a common complaint.

Another downside of Barcelona’s tourist boom has been the widespread closure of traditional, often family-run shops, bars, and restraurants as decades of rent controls recently came to an abrupt end. As a consequence, the city is fast losing its distinctive character – the same character that attracted tourists in the first place – in the face of homogenization that accompanies the arrival of multinational chain stores.

Protecting the Racket

The City Council’s multi-year campaign against the likes of Airbnb is not just about protecting Barcelona’s distinctive character, reducing pressures on public services or exerting some semblance of control over a market that has exceeded its limits and is now almost certainly in bubble territory; it is also about safeguarding its own source of funds.

It is about protecting its own racket.

Local hotels, hostels, pensiones, B&Bs, and registered tourist apartments all contribute handsomely to government coffers. By contrast, unregistered tourist apartments pay nary a cent. As for Airbnb, whose business was recently valued at €30 billion, it paid just €81,000 in taxes in Spain last year on the total revenue generated by the more than 35,000 holiday apartments it handles in the country — the equivalent of two-and-a-half euros per property.

Like many global tech giants, the company runs much of its business through Ireland, where corporation tax maxes out at just 12.5%. For years now the Irish government has bent over backwards to secure the patronage of the world’s biggest corporations. But its days as a grudgingly tolerated tax haven on the EU’s periphery may be numbered.

In Barcelona tensions continue to rise between the City Council and Internet accommodation mediators and their thousands of affiliated hosts, many of whom use the money to help pay their bills and stay in their homes. A group purportedly representing Airbnb hosts has already responded to the Council’s informant-recruitment campaign by urging local residents to sabotage the information hotline and website by flooding them with false leads.

Before the situation spirals completely out of control, a balance needs to be struck between protecting the interests of traditional businesses and residents, on the one hand, and accommodating new opportunities of the sharing economy, on the other. Yet even in cities that have been more willing to engage with companies like Airbnb, such as Amsterdam, public resentment against the ever-rising tide of tourists and the expansion of professional landlords using the platform to circumvent landlord-tenant and hotel regulations is on the increase.

What’s happening in Barcelona should serve as a stark warning to tourist accommodation intermediaries like Airbnb, and Homeaway. If they don’t step up their game by offering serious concessions on regulatory and taxation issues, local governments all over the globe will end up assuming the role of legal guardian of the sharing economy by default. And that, as we’re already seeing, will not have pretty consequences. By Don Quijones, Raging Bull-Shit.

Trying to tax the Internet? Read…  New Leak Confirms: Brussels Has Learnt Nothing from Brexit

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  58 comments for “Barcelona just Declared War on Airbnb (and its Hosts)

  1. Chicken
    September 11, 2016 at 8:26 pm

    The invasion of the rent seekers.

  2. Petunia
    September 11, 2016 at 8:36 pm

    The real issue here is who owns the property, the government or the owner. If you restrict the right to rent out a property you seriously erode its value. Is the government compensating the owners for lost income and value? I think they should if the property is being encumbered. The government’s inability to collect tax from a large multinational is their problem. What would Franco think/say/do?

    • September 11, 2016 at 9:44 pm

      Franco would have murdered those who thought this up which is why his statues are coming down.. I know lots of folks who are having a nearly impossible time finding rents in coastal Maine because of Airbnb. There is a reason why we issue motel and hotel permits even though they are privately held properties. We have property rights but it is not an unlimited right. I used to own rental houses and units when I lived in Maine and needed permits and safety inspections.. The inspections I welcomed because I didn’t need to be sued over something I didn’t see.. As I see it, the government of Barcelona cares more for it’s residents than it does for whatever day tripper or weekender trying to get by on the cheap.. I live near Seattle now and haven’t heard of this being a problem, not here anyway, but it is a problem in Maine if it’s near anything touristy..
      You are probably right about trying collect taxes from multinationals. I read that Apple is willing to pay the taxes owed providing they get to determine what is fair.. We have lost control when corporations dictate to us rather than the other way around..

      • John Doyle
        September 11, 2016 at 10:49 pm

        I’m in favour of the residents. Even for visitors the cities need to appear normal or else its just a fairground show, which is what Venice faces. As to being a racket, it rather seems legit to be able to raise the funds the city needs to pay for the services everyone needs.

        • raoul
          September 12, 2016 at 8:30 pm

          I couldn’t agree more. ‘Racket’ seems an unusually harsh label in this case.

      • Rainmaker
        September 13, 2016 at 10:00 pm

        Marxism is just that. Government controls and regulations are good for the government, not for the individuals. If our rights are limited by government to the extent that the individual is hurt AND government benefits, then they are not rights at all. 100 years + of Marxist ideology has now been ingrained in the population. So sad to have lived to see it.

        • September 14, 2016 at 11:29 am

          Can’t agree, Rainmaker.. Government is the people and in a democracy controlled by the people. The people of Barcelona are more political than we, partly because of their history of being on the receiving end of a fascist coup that destroyed democracy for generations. Can’t blame them for being prickly.. I fail to see how regulation of commerce is Marxist.. Our founders regulated commerce..

    September 11, 2016 at 8:43 pm

    tourism has become the black death of the era. a pestilence that is difficult to avoid.

    i think of the world heritage site, kotor in montenegro, that is suffering from cruise liners unloading all of their 5,000 passengers. probably more passengers than the population of kotor.

    rats and roaches might be more benign.

    • nick kelly
      September 12, 2016 at 1:15 am

      Without tourism the economies of Barcelona and Venice would collapse. Tourism IS the economy of Venice.
      That being said- the reasons for going there need to be preserved from excess tourism- maybe a lottery. I believe you have to enter a free contest to enter some wilderness areas and maybe to hike the West Coast Trail.

      But the $300+ hotel room just rations the supply by excluding everyone but the well off.

      • Southwestern
        September 13, 2016 at 6:01 pm

        I’m a host for airbnb… town started to become a theme park town when the UNESCO heritage designation happened to us years ago. But, guess what, many of us couldn’t keep our homes without renting rooms. My house went into foreclosure for almost 6 years when my real estate career failed in ’07. Usual story, the government screws us and then our solutions to save ourselves are illegal. We have crowding here because the planners decided to double the population (no extra jobs added) to lure retirees here….so we have endless congestion and cheap strip malls now. To blame the tourist is a diversion. Tourists bring money to all the creative arts and food vendors. Tourists like nice places to eat.

        Re: Barcelona, I’ll boycott traveling there. That’s really unfair to its residents. Bet you the big hotel chains are giving bribes to officials to shut down airbnb, due to the competition. Let’s face it, hotels stopped being nice years ago, just like airports. The average airbnb host does all the housekeeping….we don’t host for just fun. We need the financial help.

        This is just one more way to destroy the middle class that still owns a home. Most airbnb hosts are over 60 or in their ’30’s. We’re just trying to keep our homes. Also, I pay 2 extra taxes amounting to 15%. I would never do this if I didn’t have to, although I like airbnb very much as a company.

        • Enric
          September 19, 2016 at 9:27 am

          Nobody is questioning your entrepreneurship… but pay the fucking taxes like everybody else! That’s the root of the problem.

      • Enric
        September 19, 2016 at 9:29 am

        You clearly have no clue about Barcelona’s economy mix…. tourism brings a 10-12%. to the city’s GDP. While it’s a substantial amount it’s not “sustaining” the city.

        • nick kelly
          September 20, 2016 at 7:04 am

          Those are external dollars- removing 10-12 % external input (usually exports- Germany’s much praised ‘export’ economy is only about 10 %) is HUGE!
          If tourism ceased Barcelona’s economy would contract at LEAST double – 20%.
          Read up on multiplier effect.
          I’m surprised you admit to 10-12 % and don’t realize how big that is.

    • polecat
      September 12, 2016 at 6:37 pm

      There’s something about rats … and invaders, that (historically speaking) comes to mind …….

  4. Gary
    September 11, 2016 at 8:52 pm

    This article leaves me with the impression that much of the world’s population is running around touring different cities. What’s going on there?

    • nick kelly
      September 12, 2016 at 1:22 am


  5. LG
    September 11, 2016 at 8:58 pm

    The world is for sale from Europe to America and the Chinese are buying!

  6. nick kelly
    September 11, 2016 at 9:16 pm

    DQ- interesting piece but I think 8.3 billion visitors is a typo.

    Segue: the similarity between the words million and billion leads to many such- I’ve often wondered if billion could be spelled some other way- bBillion perhaps. But would we stutter when reading it?

    Keep up the good work.

    • nick kelly
      September 11, 2016 at 9:26 pm

      PS: the urge to ‘rat’ on neighbors is quite nasty- reeks of secret police etc. One former Communist ‘hero’ I’m not sure of which country, probably either China or USSR, ratted out his parents for some capitalist tendencies or other, maybe selling their garden produce.

      I like to think it would lead to outrage in England, sorry the UK.

    • September 11, 2016 at 11:17 pm

      Thanks for the typo alert. Fixed.

    • Don Quijones
      September 12, 2016 at 7:22 am

      Thanks, Nick, for the heads-up.

      These days I use the quantitative terms “billion” and “trillion” so much more than million — a sign, no doubt, of our (stealth) inflationary times — that it just slipped out.

    • robt
      September 12, 2016 at 11:49 am

      In Europe and other places you’d still have a problem with the billion, and depending on the country, European or British(sometimes or maybe) and North American style. A billion here is 1000 million, a billion there is 1 million million, or a trillion. So bBillion could still mean either a billion or a trillion.
      You will see “1000 million” used sometimes …

      • September 12, 2016 at 12:41 pm

        So true. German and French never cease to confuse me:

        German and French Million = million in English;
        Milliard(e) = billion;
        Billiarde (Fr = billion) = trillion;
        Trillion = quintillion in English … which I just looked up, and it has 18 zeros in the US and 30 zeros in the UK.

  7. michael
    September 11, 2016 at 9:37 pm

    It is about taxes. If you ever travel for business it is amazing how many taxes are levied on a hotel room. Local government hates to miss out on any tax

    • MC
      September 12, 2016 at 3:27 am

      You know what they say about great minds?

      September 12, 2016 at 8:00 pm

      Taxation without Representation?

    • Southwestern
      September 13, 2016 at 6:04 pm

      See my earlier posting. We hosts pay 22% tax; lodgers tax, gross receipts and self employment. Almost worse than a job. The real thing to notice is THE TAXES they want to collect.

  8. prepalaw
    September 11, 2016 at 9:39 pm

    Hey folks, it’s all about hotel tax. If the apartment owners would add the hotel tax onto their rents and pay over those taxes to Barcelona, then no politician would care how many people they pack into those apartments.

    I have the same situation in Vermont. I rent out our home there not more than 5 times per year. I have registered with the State and have to file hotel tax returns every month. Most months are zero. But, hotel tax is 9% of the gross rent. And, once you are in the State’s computer, you are stuck there forever.

    In Vermont, no one checks your house or your condo. There are no head counts. No nothing. The State wants monthly reports. If you lie on your report and get caught, then you will be audited back for many years.

    I use HomeAway to list my VT house for rent. I pay a $400 annual listing fee. HomeAway has nothing to do with my rentals. B&B – I have no clue how they charge – but they are only providing a billboard service – they list the property and collect for the service.

    If the City residents do not like tourists, then shut down the BnB’s. And then, let the residents pay higher sewer taxes, road taxes and other common infrastructure charges to keep the City running and maintained. Do this via a plebiscite.

    • Petunia
      September 12, 2016 at 9:55 am

      Just an observation: Vermont requiring you to file a tax return on months with no income is a waste of time and money for both of you. You need to start requesting that the state use common sense in its operations. Maybe a two tier system for small businesses and large.

      • Lotz
        September 12, 2016 at 11:00 am

        I suspect that there are fines associated with missing the tax filing, shifting the responsibility to the business and when it fails the tax man profits.

  9. kitten lopez
    September 11, 2016 at 10:25 pm

    GARY: “This article leaves me with the impression that much of the world’s population is running around touring different cities. What’s going on there?”

    i live in the mission district of san francisco and while i’ve ranted about what tech (and the ancillary shovel sellers) employees have done to this “hot” neighborhood and city, airbnb is a whole other death cry to this town. actually, those are what i thought was killing this town and the area, but airbnb has also helped to kill our neighborhoods apart as landlords are evicting nearly everyone for the short-term rental market.

    (i had no idea about the influx of “HAM”- hot asian money- on the markets AS WELL, and that sent me into my existential despair about even the state of future rental market as they’re only building high end luxury homes in america now. if you thought you couldn’t save up fast enough for a down payment on a house now… what’s RENT going to be like in ten years? even if it’s low…it’ll be low because most of us will be the uncounted unemployed and truly broke people are already getting callouses on their knees from giving head to make the electric bills.)

    but yeah, Iceland is apparently also going through the same thing–evictions for airbnb tourists and no room for the people who LIVE there– and so are other towns. with all the evictions, like you, Gary, i also keep wondering HOW MANY TOURISTS CAN THERE POSSIBLY ALWAYS CONSTANTLY BEING, TO MERIT ALL THESE EVICTIONS???

    and yeah. turning neighbors into rat finks is another social breakdown from all this. i can’t believe how this “disruption” economy has been allowed to spread and bypass all the regulations/taxes/fees hotels and taxis have paid for years.

    it’s turned everyone into whores. driving people around all day, doing errands for them, and you rent out your apartment on airbnb.

    i was at the gym a few weeks ago, where an uber driver guy came in and said his hands and legs were going numb from driving 14-16 hour days.

    and we’re all “contractors” now, too.

    this is why i find the dirty old man selling cheap meat in a low level titty/sports bar REFRESHINGLY quaint and even… dare i say, sweet, in a nostalgic sort of way. hell… at least he LIKES looking at girls. these tech entrepreneurs are motivated by… i don’t know. they have no SOUL. that’s what scares me. their vision of the world is a reflection of them and i thought people were all the same but this is why i feel like i’m living in a sci-fi movie.

    i never would’ve seen ANY of this coming. this is why i’m on this site. looking for ways to discern these new tea leaves.

    but yeah… how can many cities be turning into theme parks where no one LIVES? i’m very lost and i LIVE here.

    but this airbnb thing is tragic. technology is tragic. i don’t care how glad everyone is about the free porn and their facebook profiles or how good they’ve gotten at pithy short sentences. it’s not worth all we’ve lost: each other.

    but i guess it was always going this way or it wouldn’t have happened so quickly and easily and effortlessly.

    • Chicken
      September 12, 2016 at 12:38 am

      An impossible nightmare of some sort?

    • nick kelly
      September 12, 2016 at 1:39 am

      Taxis are the biggest rip off monopoly- you do realize that the driver almost never owns the license, it is being milked by the owner.
      The ‘privilege’ of a taxi plate can only be bought in the market- usually for a minimum of 100,000 dollars. It is an artificial shortage.

      I could not care less personally- I haven’t taken a taxi in years. Where I live only the poor use them and are extorted by them. Not by the driver, repeat, not by the driver, by the rent seeker who owns the plate.

      Airbnb, I’ll reserve judgement on- Uber has done people without cars a service.
      Don’t want Uber? Fine, let anyone who wants to drive cab pay a reasonable business license fee, with whatever check ups or hoops the local government wants, just like any other business.
      You shouldn’t have to pay six figures to enter the business.

      • September 12, 2016 at 8:09 am

        How do you get an Uber if your phone(s) is flat?

        • nick kelly
          September 12, 2016 at 9:22 am

          Where I live taxis are not ‘hailed’ in the street- they are summoned by phone.

        • Petunia
          September 12, 2016 at 9:48 am

          Julian, Uber is for cool people only.

    • Petunia
      September 12, 2016 at 9:46 am


      Not too long ago a young techie posted on this site that he lives by moving from one Airbnb to another. Sometimes they are monthly rentals sometimes not. Maybe all those people are not really tourist, but the already displaced in your city.

      I do agree with the post about the cruise ships taking over a town. I went to Key West, FL the first time on a ship in the 70’s when it was a ghost town in the summer. Two years ago, I drove there and encountered the throngs from a cruise ship on a two day visit. It was like New Years Eve in Times Square but on a beautiful day in July.

    • Ethan in Northern Va
      September 12, 2016 at 2:49 pm

      Originally AirBnB was for people to rent out a spare room in their house to guests. I used it once when I moved to Northern Virginia, and friends have told me about their experiences. In our experiences it was a personal thing where the people involved usually hang out and talk and share opinions and views. It was WAY more personal than any hotel, which has it’s ups and downs.

      The problem is the business people coming into AirBnB, if anything the “business minded” are ruining it? Bed and Breakfast is normally more personal. But, in the end people are greedy. Me too, I used it to pay less than a hotel when I was moving to the area. The problem here is the landlords and businesses moving their properties onto AirBnB — not the original idea of AirBnB.

  10. Naresh
    September 12, 2016 at 12:51 am

    Vancouver must take a lead and follow this as well as it will increase taxes so they can Hire more beauracrats

  11. Nicko
    September 12, 2016 at 10:46 am

    Good, companies like AirBnB ruin neighborhoods.

    • Lex Lutheran
      September 13, 2016 at 4:52 am

      Yes. I live in a nice mid-touristy town. I paid for my humble abode. But the neighbor rents out the apartment next door via Air bnb and people come and party. Week, weekend, its their holiday so makes no difference to them. Meanwhile, I can’t even listen to music, because what they play from next door is too loud. Management don’t care, police don’t care. Neighbor is making money out of his business trips by renting his place but the rest of us suffer for it. And the property values go down.

      • David G L.A.
        September 13, 2016 at 10:28 am

        This is hard to believe. If it is an apartment, most likely management WOULD care. If it’s a condo, the HOA would care. maybe you can sue your neighbor somehow?

    • Southwesterner
      September 13, 2016 at 6:13 pm

      Want to help pay my mortgage?????
      No, I didn’t think so….but airbnb does.
      Course, my house is in a commercial district & I couldn’t rent it long-term residentially. No one wanted to live “downtown.” Airbnb is saving my financial life.

      The US hardly has neighborhoods anymore. Few people know their neighbors, everyone is captivated by the screens–phone, computer, TV.
      Let’s get some honesty here….it’s not airbnb that’s screwed neighborhoods, it’s the electronic life.

  12. kitten lopez
    September 12, 2016 at 11:14 am

    PETUNIA: yes! you’re absolutely correct: i forget that rentals are so bad that techies are jumping from airbnb apt. to another. it’s happened in our building.

    as you can tell, i’ve got STORIES here: we have two brazilian nannies/house cleaners who i think married to get here (guys long gone, but their friends who’ve visited from brazil have floated me marrying them for money–no dice. i may not believe in marriage but something’s GOTTA be sacred still, right? and i’m no whore. not yet, anyhow.)

    anyhow, the women would leave for months at a time and airbnb out their apartments that they had the landlord fix up. our landlord is a screaming douche bag but one’s integrity shouldn’t be dependent on OTHERS being stand up folks.

    the brazilian nannies ended up with BMW suvs and tons of STUFF they were always ordering from amazon. and the people who stay here short term are notorious for partying loud, not caring about neighbors, and there’s a lot of extra trash and cleaning up OTHER TENANTS end up servicing.

    the belgians who were subletting for four months from my neighbor in front who also got a loft in brooklyn she also airbnbs (she’s an artist and this is how she’s making her money now). the belgians went into my closets and used my vacuum cleaner and broke it and it’s UNNERVING never knowing who’s in your home or neighborhood. they don’t care about the safety.

    and with all the money to be made in the mission, we’ve also had about a half-dozen FIRES in the past few years. not cute little fires that singe kitchen curtains. fires that take down entire buildings so’s they can rebuild and get around the rent control laws (yes. anything built AFTER ’79 isn’t under rent control so that sets new incentives in motion here).

    everyone’s been douchey. there are few angels anymore.

    a lot of renters who didn’t even need to stay in the city ended up subletting on airbnb without the landlords knowing. everyone’s a mini-mogul now.

    as i wrote here, when i realized how every slum lord around us was evicted people on little or nothing, i started to LOVE my landlord for being an old fashioned jerk who was fine with what he had so far and leaving us be.

    ALSO, as someone else i believe posted here, it seems as if most tech jobs are now on a CONTRACT basis. so people are here hustling for short-term gigs.

    JULIAN: yeah, i have a flip phone still, too. and no, you can’t do all this “app” stuff without a smart phone. it’s a creepy racket. be careful.

    NICK KELLEY: yes, i agree that the taxi medallion thing is as big a scam as any. more rentier class stuff. but this new economy isn’t anything “new.” there were gypsy cabs in the bronx when i was a kid.

    i LOVE people subverting the system. everything’s a hustle now. education, trainers getting regulated for the fees but they don’t know nada. lawyers used to be able to just take the BAR exam. but now you have to go to school. why??? money money money. capitalism is SUPPOSED to make a buck off EVERYTHING. it’s the rules. the carrot. without regulation you’re selling off your grandma’s hair to fill car seats.

    i actually don’t like regulation and government in everything because when i was above board, it was hard to keep ANY money i made, and as the vermont landlord said, (i paraphrase): “once you’re in the system, you’re never OUT.” and i accidentally had the city lock up my bank account for taxes i supposedly owed long after we quit the biz. (they made up the $ amount) it got unlocked both times, but…really??? what if they hadn’t because of some other snafu??? i don’t trust the government for anything. especially not my health care.

    BUT the “new” economy is about subverting rules and regulations OTHERS have had to follow for decades, and offsetting the costs on OTHERS. and it’s another form of tossing folks over the boat in cement shoes so the “crap” can rise to the top now. don’t kid yourself about any “cream” rising anywhere anymore.

    it’s not FAIR. it’s not an even field. it’s cement shoes overboard. and i ask what do these things to do OTHERS? the libertarian ethic at play here is pretty ruthless. people all over america are as stunned as i was when i first asked, “to what END, any of THIS???”

    but that’s the thing. they don’t CARE about useful stores in real life on the ground, they don’t care about art, music, poor folks, neighbors, the earth, water, old people, insane people. it’s all: I GOT MINE.

    they don’t CARE about the better things in life because as the blues songs used to say, “i’ve had things rich people don’t even KNOW exist.” that’s true here. otherwise why would they walk through gorgeous san francisco bent over a PHONE. they don’t even look at pretty girls walking by.

    and to that:

    CHICKEN: “An impossible nightmare of some sort?”

    you can WAKE from a “nightmare,” but this is the new normal. the rest of you who haven’t been here for any length of time, talking to real people, have NO idea how far and fast things can go and change. you have NO idea. you think you do.

    i’ve been at the bottom and top of society–i’ve been in foster situations and been around pedophiles and courted by pimps in nyc’s port authority when i ran away at age 11—-and i’ve NEVER seen the banality of evil so brightly out in the open as i do here and now.

    usually americans like their evil six degrees of separation away from them. have the slaughterhouse do the dirty work and wrap it in plastic for me.

    but it’s bad here. i’ve already been attacked by a new self-entitled homeowner who didn’t like that i was dancing in front of a mural on busy 24th street (he attacked me for his wife who wanted quiet because she was “working” at home… i said, “you’re KIDDING ME, right???”).

    and yeah, another techie kid across from my apartment, the building where the old tech guys were unceremoniously evicted for airbnbing full time, the tech kid was hopped up on uppers or something (according to the cops who came later…and let him go). he came out from working all night, i was dancing for the kids to join me on a sunday at 1pm and he came out and said, “turn that shit OFF!”

    i said “who are YOU?” i’d NEVER seen this guy before and i kept dancing and he came up and punched me. i’m almost 50 and he couldn’t be more than 25. but he was apparently from manhattan beach in LA and had that sense of THE WORLD IS MINE entitlement that is making people run stop signs and lights.

    i told you they’re the worst customer service nightmares come to live here. they demand.

    so “nightmare”? nah. this is the new norm. too much bad behaviour is now deemed acceptable and out in the open as if it’s normal.

    i’ll be honest even though i already know from past experience that anything i post online can come back and haunt me if someone tries to build a case against me, but i don’t believe the future of the small business person is even possible much in america anymore.

    there’s gonna be more of an underground black market cash economy because i’m already seeing others –as well as myself– not willing to go legit in such a rigged system against the little guy.

    it’s not the same as selling crap on ebay or driving occasionally on uber. those days of free extra pin money are numbered as drivers and others are now realizing being a truly self-employed “contractor” has LOTS of governmental fees and quarterly taxes. they’re getting billed now and see it’s not such a good deal as they thought.

    there’s nothing i wanna do next that’s above ground. there. i’ve given any of my future audits ammunition.


    but i think there’s gonna be an onslaught of folks like me so i’m counting on getting lost in the numbers on this move.

    • micromacroman
      September 12, 2016 at 7:30 pm

      Kitten Lopez. I read your very long post. My observation is that you must live in a “city”. As their are as Obama said “2-Americas”. It is those who live in the city, and those who don’t. I live in a very small rural community. The economy is terrible. Work is hard. But the people are great. Cause they/we choose to live a lifestyle outside the city. We are not about the money. We are about a simple, hassle free lifestyle. Healthcare not good, shopping not good, restaurants not good. Education good, neighbors very good, stress levels mostly low all the time—unless your all about the big house, the status and the money ! I see alot of unhappy people like you move to our area from the city. They often complain about everything that involves it NOT being the city. They don’t last.

      • kitten lopez
        September 13, 2016 at 7:40 pm

        Dear Mr. MICROMACROMAN-

        i know i rage and get sad and broken hearted about the death of so much life. and i’m sad that others must suffer for no good reason.

        but believe it or not, i’m actually not “unhappy.” (and wow…i DID write a really long post. didn’t realize it was as long as it was /thanks for actually reading. it’s very kind of you to take the time to “see” me, “hear” me. thank you very much for all that RESPECT.)

        and because i’m a scrapper, i’d totally last anywhere i land, including YOUR small town! i’d probably start a (free) drop-in art class with the kids who weren’t into being on the internet all the time, or have dance parties in parking lots or help them produce live variety shows for folks. things i did as a kid. i’m a scrapper, but i was raised when there was privacy in being a human growing up, before there were car seat and helmet laws for all of childhood–back when our parents basically said, “come home when the street lights go on!” i’m adaptable and usually see changes and LOSS as an adventure. the odd thing about “losing everything” that made me fit into adulthood more, is that i’m getting more connected to what’s left of my surroundings. so i’m having a love affair with all that’s here now!

        my washing machine breaking sent me to the laundromat where i dance and the street folks come hang out and smile and protect me. i meet little kids doing laundry with their moms and they wanna dance with me, too.

        we gave our badly broken, technically mysterious car to the handyman at my gym and now i’m riding my bicycle everywhere and yelling hello to neighbors who introduce themselves as i’m rolling by awkwardly trying to avoid cars and buses.

        but i don’t have kids and have to commute 4 hours to work or pay 70% of my income to rent.

        i’m personally FINE. but i’m NOT fine in my heart when so many others are suffering. i feel others’ suffering to the point of actually getting physically sick after spending too much time with “off” or vampire people.

        i’m an artist. i used to think that meant we were flaky and danced off the walls like the movie “fame.” now that i’ve made it past a ton of friends’ suicides in the the teen years, their twenties, then jumping up to more of a middle age spate of suicides, i realize some folks really ARE very sensitive and feel alone and wrong for not being able to play the psychopathic american game of “screw you/i’ve got mine!”

        the prescription meds are supposed to kill our human feelings so we can just go along and not cause too much of a ruckus while the powers that be take away YOUR small town, too.

        and guess what? i actually WANT to move to a small town. yeah. a dying town without tourism. but then i went to clearlake and saw all the parking lots outside of bars and homes empty on a friday afternoon. no one having a cookout on a warm afternoon…

        but we drove by the casino where ALL the cars were and i scratched “small town” off my dream this past spring. i realized home is where i am and i must smell all the bad smells and fight for what’s left instead of running away.

        yeah. just like any solid relationship. like when you read entire ranting posts by people you’ll never meet.

        that bodes well for you, my dear man. thank you for your time yet again.




  13. kitten lopez
    September 12, 2016 at 11:43 am

    p.s. and as for rat finking on your neighbors, even THAT’s gonna get ugly. my mother taught me that to be a stand up person (or to even earn the RIGHT to manage a company or any venture) was to have the courage to say difficult things OUT LOUD to the person(s).

    so after years of this, airbnb thing in our building when i’d had enough of the stress of ALL my neighbors in our apartment building airbnb-ing their apartments, i told them to their FACES no more airbnb’ing. i didn’t wanna lie to people or hide anything or deal with the tenants as i was the only one here to teach them where the trash went, etc.

    i said that i was going to tell the management company (who also didn’t care at first til i went directly to the owner), all of the people who were making their money this way–MAIN MONEY–they got enraged with me–one SCREAMED at me in the street–and still scowl when they see me.

    i’d rather feel clean.

    but to rat fink… i think it’d foster more creepy paranoia and passive aggressive retaliation. people know the types likely to tell on ’em, and even if they’re WRONG, someone’s gonna get the retaliation of scratched or kicked cars.

    the brazilan women went OFF on me when i said no more. they had no idea how they were gonna make money now.

    so when you mess with folks’ money, especially in an era of crappy jobs… be verrry careful. that’s what i mean when i say this city’s gone FERAL and ruthless.

  14. Curt
    September 12, 2016 at 2:57 pm

    As a hotel owner I find Airbnb has not hurt my business at all. It allows more tourists in the area. Along side my hotel is tons of commercial real estate I own. More tourist = more money to develop the area and please the new tourists.

  15. james wordsworth
    September 12, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    Hurray for Barcelona! Airbnb and the likes of Uber are milking the system, contributing nothing while destroying the fabric of society. They basically cheat and win by not paying taxes and artificially pricing themselves below market rates. Take Uber, losing billions per year, but gaining share as it underprices every ride and fools people into thinking they are getting a good deal, while they wipe out the competition (predatory pricing anyone). Same with airbnb, taxes not paid put legitimate establishments at a disadvantage. Your “great deal” is really just because the operator is cheating the system. Feel better?
    Time to “harness” these out of control rip off artists.

    • Curtis Mailo
      September 12, 2016 at 9:04 pm

      How is Uber or air bnb predator pricing?

      • David G L.A.
        September 13, 2016 at 10:41 am
      • kitten lopez
        September 13, 2016 at 12:34 pm

        CURTIS…. you’re kidding RIGHT??? this is a 101-level question considering what this ENTIRE SITE is about.

      • Southwesterner
        September 13, 2016 at 6:16 pm

        It’s a sweat equity income. You are right….not predator pricing.

        • September 13, 2016 at 6:40 pm

          “Sweat equity income?” That’s a new phrase to me. In know of “sweat equity” – when you work in your own company and don’t get paid, you’re said to be building “sweat equity” as opposed to real equity (when you put in money).

          But “equity” is on the balance sheet. “Income” is on the income statement. They don’t go together. And what does it have to do with Uber and Airbnb? I’m stumped…

  16. d
    September 13, 2016 at 9:10 pm

    government will never side with a truly FREE market approach by its ‘citizens tax cows’….NEVER….imho

  17. Southwestern
    September 14, 2016 at 8:27 pm

    “Sweat equity” in my experience is getting some ownership from the work. Airbnb lets a homeowner make some cash to keep the house they would otherwise lose. Maybe this blog is all about financially independent people, but my situation is a financial recovery. I “sweat to keep what I have.”

    • September 14, 2016 at 8:29 pm

      Your story is a great story. Kudos!

  18. huis789
    September 16, 2016 at 3:03 pm

    AirBnb allows householders and AirBnb to make money on the back of a ready made tourism market, created and paid for by someone else. The agency or its providers pay no tax for this, nor do they they otherwise participate in funding of the markets they piggyback on.

    This kind of activity is commonly known as parasytising.

    If you parasytise on someone then they will seek to extinguish you as you are trying to kill them. If your parasytising operation is so successful that the host cannot kill you, then your host will die. When your host dies then the parasite dies shortly thereafter.

    Triple drinks all around wehey!!

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