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December 16, 2014



We are going to trade downtown parking for affordable housing? Am I reading this right?


FYI, Palo Alto now has the highest TOT on the peninsula at 15%. Ouch.

pat giorni

....Soooooo if I pay the the city's $100 Biz tax on my "home business"...say a B'n'B on Balboa Ave...do I have to charge TOT?

Bruce Dickinson

Guys, Bruce Dickinson sees quite a bit of analysis and foregone conclusions without getting key facts. I'm no hotelier or math wizard, but here are some key questions:

How many available rooms are in Palo Alto vs how many are available in Burlingame?

How many single family residences exist in Palo Alto vs Burlingame?

What is the average rack rate per available room in Palo Alto hotels compared to Burlingame and vs the Air B&B rate in Palo Alto?

What is the average length of stay at a hotel farther away in the suburbs not that close to an airport, versus one that is right next to an airport?

What is the average square footage and bedrooms/bathrooms of the average Palo Alto house versus the average Burlingame home?

Basic economic questions of supply and demand need to be answered here guys. Bruce Dickinson would hazard to guess there are not many available hotel rooms in Palo Alto and surrounds, I know four of the 5-6 hotels in the area are expensive luxury hotels and have high rates, there are more single family residences that can act as B&Bs in Palo Alto, the average square footage of a Palo Alto house is higher than Burlingame, and I would guess that residential BnBs would work better for longer stays vs shorter 1-2 night trips.

doin' it

You were probably right on most of what you say right up to the very end--that is most certainly wrong. AirBnB and VRBO love the 1-2 night stays especially close to SFO. Lots of people who want to use SFO instead of Sac, SJO or Oakland do it. Very high turnover.

Cathy Baylock

One area to keep an eye on is a phenomenon playing out in our immediate neighbor to the north, Millbrae. There are AirBnB listings for "hacker houses". They are putting two to three bunk beds per bedroom sleeping six per bedroom advertising as a great place for coders (hackers) to crash for $50 per night. The one I saw was on Magnolia which already has a pretty tight parking situation in Millbrae's downtown. I think those doing it in Burlingame are working on a very small scale and are considerate of their neighbors, but we must be vigilant to ensure we don't end up with high volume hack houses in our downtown neighborhoods.

Cathy Baylock

Here is the Millbrae Airbnb listing: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/890170?s=qEbA


Thank you very much Cathy Baylock for your input. At least to me, it seems that when you get involved in an issue, it is worthy of following up on.
I do not see anything wrong with Homeowners renting their space for temporary business. However, the slippery slope begins to be taken advantage of by Corporations avoiding paying taxes. The same could be the case with car rentals too.
Thank you for keeping an "eye on things" since you left The City of Burlingame.
Wish you were still here.
Merry Christmas, and all the other stuff!

Cathy Baylock

Right back atcha, Holy!


With just a bit of internet research, Burlingame has 11 hotels with 3,512 rooms. Palo Alto has 26 hotels/motels with 1,957 rooms. TOT: Burlingame: 12%. TOT: Palo Alto beginning Jan 1:14%.


Here is an interesting news bit out of Portland, OR on the sharing economy:

Uber isn't Portland's only fight with a sharing-economy startup. The love affair between City Hall and Airbnb is publicly fraying.

City Commissioner Nick Fish has been pushing a crackdown on Airbnb hosts who don’t get safety inspections. Airbnb sent a lobbyist to a City Council hearing Dec. 18 to object to new rules compelling the company to provide the addresses and city permit numbers of its hosts.

Fish upbraided him for more than 10 minutes.

"You want to have your cake and eat it too," Fish told him. "We have an obligation to go after folks who are not following the law. The only way we can do that is [if] we know where they live, and you're claiming that's confidential and somehow an erosion of your privacy rights."

Airbnb's director of public policy, David Owen, said his company objects to providing "unfettered access to private user data without formal legal process, which is a fundamental tenant of Internet commerce."

Fish was agog.

"This has shades of Uber all over it," Fish said. "We invoke the Internet, and we claim an exemption from all the other laws and rules of society, because we're somehow 'on the Internet.'

"We welcomed you to Portland," he continued. "We're pleased that you've harnessed the Internet. But sir, we have to make sure that the guests in one of your hosts' places—and you do not inspect your hosts' places—we have to make sure that guest is safe."

J. Mir

I've never paid a (small) business license that didn't feel like a shakedown.


This is interesting news in the SF Examiner. I wonder what the B'game position on this is?

San Francisco's Democratic Party has a message for Airbnb: Pay your taxes.

The Democratic County Central Committee — the voice of the local Democratic Party — voted at its meeting Wednesday to urge Airbnb, the online home rental service, to pay all owed back taxes to San Francisco.

In October, the Board of Supervisors voted to regulate Airbnb home rentals, but a sticking point remained. The company's hosts will now have to pay taxes on the rentals, but Airbnb has so far not paid back taxes for the many years it has operated in The City.



Just ask Nirmala. She should know.


Who is or what is Nirmala?
Who are you Vecino?


This Monday night the Palo Alto city council is studying the short-term rental in neighborhoods issue (Airbnb, VRBO, Home Away, etc).

Holy, I'm guess Nirmala refers to Nirmala from the 2013 Council election:


Ask the real leaders

Nirmala is about as low level in the Democratic Party as it gets. That fake smile is oh so appealing. She once complained that there are too many white people at Lincoln. Look around, lady.

Why not ask my friend Alix Rosenthal who's the 2nd Vice Chair of The DCCC in SF.

She just became the General Counsel of Side Car.


Here is an interesting little clip from the longer article on Planning changes in Belmont:

Although members of the public expressed frustration that the proposed changes could ease homeowners’ ability to add second units on their properties, staff noted that per state law, second units are already allowed and cannot be considered as an increase in density.

Really? Adding a second unit is not an increase in density? Government math at work??



Is that right?? I wonder if that is a mistaken opinion of Belmont staff (?)


It's always fun to watch EssEff wrestle with the issues of the day and the Examiner doesn't pull many punches these days:


One interesting point is this:

"With nearly 5,000 units on Airbnb’s platform in San Francisco, he said a good chunk of the bad actors may take housing away from the 10,000 units available for rent in San Francisco.
So the next time you have trouble finding in apartment in San Francisco, you can thank Airbnb, at least partially, for your woes."


I saw this on Cnet today which got me wondering (Again!) why the Council isn't thinking about all the TOT slipping through our fingers:

San Francisco is one of the first cities in the world to make short-term rentals legal. Last October the city passed a law that lets people rent their rooms or homes for up to 90 days per calendar year. And hosts present during home-stays can lease rooms year round. The law also requires that all Airbnb hosts sign on to a city registry, collect transient occupancy taxes and carry liability insurance.


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