FROM James Elmendorf
Political Warfare over the Sharing Economy Airbnb claims almost 5000 "hosts" are offering rooms, and entire houses, for short-term rental in 80 Los Angeles neighborhoods. The start-up that's raised almost $20 billion in venture capital says it helps travelers to get off the beaten path and artists and other creative owners to stay in their homes — producing a $312 million bonus to the economy of LA alone. But neighbors in Silver Lake, Mar Vista, Venice and the Miracle Mile have other ideas — and they've organized as Keep Neighborhoods First!
Airbnb Growth Outpaces City Policy The escalating wars over short-term rentals: Airbnb, VRBO, and others versus homeowners. And cities are caught in the middle with varying policies and regulations. One issue is taxes. Just yesterday, Airbnb said it will start collecting taxes from properties listed in Malibu. West Hollywood is considering a blanket ban on short-term rentals. And in the rest of the LA metro area, it’s technically illegal to rent through Airbnb. Although you wouldn’t know it on the site. Despite inconsistent regulations and enforcement, Airbnb is thriving in Los Angeles. But that has housing advocates worried for a city with a long history of rising rents and limited housing.
Walmart Comes to Chinatown In March, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously passed a moratorium on big chain stores in Chinatown. But Wal-Mart had beaten the politicians to the punch by pulling permits the day before. Construction on the new store at Cesar Chavez and Grand began last Tuesday. Opponents are appealing that action, and on Saturday staged a colorful protest in the neighborhood.
Downtown Walmart Grocery Store Draws Fire, Sparks Excitement It's a fight to the checkout line for those for and against a new Walmart Neighborhood Market planned for downtown LA. The new 33,000 square foot store is expected to go into the bottom floor of a senior housing complex just north of the 101 Freeway, a stones throw from central Chinatown. The world's biggest retailer has been trying a smaller footprint in high-density areas, but up to now has stayed out of LA, instead locating in other big cities like Chicago. Supercenters, those with more than 100,000 square feet, have more of a city hurdle to jump in trying to get built. An LA ordinance requires retailers to provide an economic analysis on how it would affect the job market and nearby businesses. Note: Walmart was invited to participate in today's discussion but their spokesman was unavailable.
The flight bumping heard around 'round the world Recent video of a passenger forcibly removed from a United Airlines plane is a worst-case example of what's happened since consolidation into just four US-based carriers. Management seems to be tone-deaf to a decline in service — and even abuse — of passengers.
Rhetoric and brinksmanship on the Korean Peninsula For 25 years, the US has viewed North Korea's nuclear program with increasing alarm. Now President Trump says this country has lost its "strategic patience." We hear what he's actually doing… and what might come next.