This story out of Santa Monica might sound familiar to Rhode Islanders, given the vacation-related parts of Governor Raimondo’s proposed budget:
Home-sharing websites like Airbnb allow homeowners and apartment dwellers to rent their home and spare bedrooms to vacationers for a fraction of the cost of a hotel stay.
But on May 12, the Santa Monica City Council passed a new ordinance that will impose regulations that make that opportunity much harder to come by. …
The ordinance imposes strict restrictions on who can rent out their spare bedrooms for less than 30 days, including requiring those who wish to rent out their spare bedroom or apartment to apply for a business license and to remain on the property during the guest’s stay. The ordinance also imposes a 14 percent hotel tax on hosts.
A free society is supposed to work by allowing us maximum latitude to make arrangements with each other, with government providing security and an understanding that contracts can be reinforced. There’s some room around the edges for government to take some of the risk out of the equation by (essentially) doing a portion of customers’ due diligence for them through regulation, but we’re way beyond that, at this point, and drifting farther out to sea.