Cambridge’s Airbnb law is good for all of Massachusetts

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Earlier this week, the Cambridge City Council voted to formally allow Cambridge residents to use their home - typically their greatest expense - to generate supplemental income to help pay for monthly expenses like rent, medical bills, and tuition for their children. Over 1,200 Cambridge residents have used Airbnb over the last year to make a little extra money while also expanding their own knowledge to new travelers and diverse cultures.

Just as you would not put a hammer to a screw, or a screwdriver to a nail, each city and country is economically, geographically and demographically unique. I commend Mayor Denise Simmons and the council for taking a thoughtful, collaborative approach to policy making, and for designing legislation that is uniquely suited for the city of Cambridge. Critical to that process was public input. Over the last year, hundreds of Airbnb hosts reached out to share their unique story and offer recommendations around a fair regulatory approach. They expressed their desire for an ordinance that was easy to understand and would encourage participation while still giving regulators the ability to go after bad actors.

Home sharing itself is centuries old, but home sharing on an online platform at a peak of one million guest arrivals per night and across the globe is new. Such new developments take time to figure out, and we appreciate the commitment of the city of Cambridge to getting this right rather than rush to regulate. Smart public policy will allow home sharing to achieve its potential as an economic, social and environmental solution - not just for the everyday people who take part in it - but for the cities and other governments that stand to benefit from it.

Rebecca Rutenberg