Airbnb Is an Ally to Cities, Not an Adversary

By Arun Sundararajan

Arun Sundararajan

It is critical that city governments treat platforms like Airbnb as partners in finding new regulatory solutions, rather than casting them as the protagonists...

Airbnb has helped create a new form of mixed-use real estate: residential units that sometimes double as short-term paid accommodation.

It remains unclear whether this form of “sharing” significantly alters the supply of affordable rental housing. In San Francisco, city officials contend the impact is high, while Airbnb’s own economic analysis suggests otherwise.

Regardless, all of the rooms and units listed on Airbnb could barely house a tenth of the 45,000 new residents San Francisco has added to its population over the last five years.

And Airbnb's scale in San Francisco is dwarfed even further by the high fraction of rent-controlled units — over 170,000 spaces, or about 70 percent of rental units — which significantly distort the availability and allocation of affordable housing.

Read the full article as published in The New York Times.

Arun Sundararajan is a Professor of Information, Operations and Management Sciences, NEC Faculty Fellow, and Doctoral Coordinator of IOMS-Information Systems.