airbnb logoWith a governor who pays constant lip service to the idea of a robust environment for technology companies and entrepreneurship, why are Colorado bureaucrats fighting some of the most groundbreaking and widely-adopted tech platforms that have been launched this decade? Who’s running this state?

First it was Uber, the wildly successful ride sharing app that completely disrupted the way people used taxis by providing reliable, clean, friendly, and transparent service.  Users love it, as evidenced by its adoption rate and latest stratospheric valuation (at $41 billion it would be larger than local favorites MolsonCoors and DaVita combined).  After enduring more than a year of threats from state bureaucrats and local special interests, it looks like Coloradans will be free to choose Uber going forward.

But just as Uber seems to be in the clear, another favorite of the new sharing economy appears to be in the crosshairs of bureaucrats and regulators.  Airbnb, which lets home owners rent to other members of the Airbnb community on a short term basis, has attracted the ire of The Central Planners and housing regulators.

In Boulder, the city actually sent cease and desist letters to 20 citizens who were renting their properties on Airbnb or VRBO (another short term rental website), and it wasn’t until city council members heard of this heavy-handed approach that the letters were retracted.  In Boulder, rental units must be licensed and inspected, and, of course, sharing websites, like Airbnb, would cut the city out of the revenue mix. But, one could hardly blame Boulderites for wanting to earn a few extra dollars – rentals in the People’s Republic are scarce and expensive.  Denver isn’t quite as bad, but approaching.

In Denver, City Councilwoman Jeanne Faatz has not been shy about her opinion about these new opportunities.  In a Vincent Carroll editorial that ran in The Denver Post this week, she is quoted as saying “This really offends me to have people buying up homes in residential areas to use for this purpose.”

Imagine that – a lawmaker is personally offended by the investment decisions of private citizens in her community.  Unfortunately, Faatz is one of the most conservative members of the Denver City Council.  So, if it offends her, we can’t imagine the pearl clutching happening behind closed doors with the others.  Fellow Denver City Councilmember Mary Beth Susman, famous for her dedication to making it tough to drive in Denver, already has asked for an ordinance to be drafted and expects to have it in hand this week.  From The Post:

Susman has asked city staff to draft a ‘straw-man ordinance’ that includes licensing of short-term rentals and mandates that hosts pay a lodger’s tax, use the property as their primary residence and limit rentals to a ‘certain number of times a year.'”

When will Denver stop infringing on private property rights? God forbid the city allow people to earn an extra buck without its hands in its citizens’ pockets.