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As L.A. weighs regulation, Airbnb touts its economic impact in city


As Los Angeles City Council members launch a push for tougher regulations on short-term rental housing, the industry’s biggest player has begun touting its impact on the city.

Airbnb, a San Francisco firm that helps people rent space in their homes like hotels, on Thursday is releasing a study tallying its footprint in L.A.

The tech firm – which typically keeps its data close to its vest – says that it has just under 4,500 “hosts” in the city of Los Angeles and that they earned a combined $43.1 million through the service from May 2013 through April 2014.

After tracking spending by guests and hosts and projecting the effect that money has filtering through the region’s economy, Airbnb estimates a total economic impact of $312 million, enough to support about 2,600 local jobs.

Airbnb’s study gave no numbers on full-time operators in L.A., but a company spokeswoman said the “vast majority” of its hosts here are full-time residents renting out their place for extra cash.

The average host here rents his or her home 59 nights a year, earning just under $8,000, and nearly half of the hosts said they use the proceeds to pay their rent or mortgage. More than 4 in 10 said they work in the arts and entertainment industries, and just over half are self-employed.

As for Airbnb’s effect on the broader housing market, its 4,490 hosts are a drop in the bucket in a city of more than 1.3 million homes. But the company’s footprint is heavier in some neighborhoods than others.

Airbnb did not disclose comprehensive data on where its hosts are located. But a map included in the report – which the company is not yet making publicly available – shows the heaviest concentration of visitors are in Hollywood, Venice and Mid-Wilshire, and the fewest properties are available south of downtown and in the northern and western parts of the San Fernando Valley.

The report studied only the city of Los Angeles, with no data on other local short-term-rental hot spots such as Santa Monica, the South Bay and Pasadena.

As for the report’s timing, Airbnb said it has been in the works for months and was not triggered by Bonin and Wesson’s proposal. The company this week called the measure “a sensible step toward developing fair, progressive policies.”

Read more: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-airbnb-touts-its-impact-in-la-20141203-story.html

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