Is Running a Business Legal?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The headline just about says it all: "San Francisco Legalizes, Regulates Airbnb With 7-4 Vote, Lots of Amendments". A corporation valued at $10 billion is now legal?

Call me crazy, but having been born in the United States, I somehow had the impression that operating a business that neither picked anyone's pocket nor broke anyone's leg was legal. (It certainly should be.) It's bad enough when a government quasi-legalizes something that shouldn't have been illegal in the first place, but this is worse in a sense. Who knew that operating a business or making contracts with other adults wasn't even legal until some band of chiseling local officials said so?

Apparently, I was wrong: We need permission, and we'd better be ready to hand over our lunch money when we ask for it. Oh, and be ready to wait hand-and-foot on the gang in charge:

I wrote a piece earlier today describing some the law's changes and some of its more controversial points. The key changes include a limit on non-hosted rentals for up to 90 days per year. That's on the concern that Airbnb will eat into the city's limited [by the government --ed] housing stock.

Another key point is the creation of a public registry, where hosts will have to pay a $50 fee, register with the city Planning Department and pledge that they'll abide by the 90-day limit. They'll also have to pay the city's hotel taxes. They -- not Airbnb -- are responsible for certifying that they're only hosting 90 days a year and for keeping records that prove this. [link in original]
Lots of people see this as good news, but it is really a sign of just how badly our freedom is in jeopardy. We once had a government that protected our rights, and now we increasingly have one that charges "protection" money.

-- CAV

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