Airbnb’s racism problem is much bigger than a few racist hosts.
David Robinson

You are chasing the small fry in this problem. Anti-poor and anti-black policies, and lately anti-immigrant policies, have dominated housing policy in SF and LA and elsewhere in California for decades. The purpose is to drive “undesirables” out of prime areas, and the method is to drive up the cost of housing by creating artificial scarcity. The huge capital gains reaped by those who, being “the right kind of people”, got in early are indefensible.

Here’s one true story of how it works. My oldest and dearest friend bought two lots, one in Carmel for his daughter and one in Minneapolis for his son. He built a house on each. In Minneapolis, the permitting process took one month and cost less than ten grand; in Carmel, it took nearly two years and cost over two hundred grand. The Minneapolis house was finished in six months, on budget. The Carmel house took 18 months to finish, 50% over budget.

The excuses California uses to artificially create housing shortage are all phony. Zoning vast green spaces creates shortages directly. Mandating ridiculous environmental and other expenses puts housing out of reach of all but the rich. A small bone was found during my friend’s excavation for his house, which mandated a $25,000 archeological excavation of the site to make sure there were no ancient human bones present; it turned out to be an animal bone, but added over a month to the project. This house was built during the Great Recession, so the local Carmel housing agency had almost no other houses to deal with, yet they still let his plans sit on someone’s desk for six months, until he threatened to sue.

It’s all artificial bull-hockey. It’s purpose is to create scarcity which will drive up prices, so only “the right sort of people” can afford to live there. Which puts poor people and blacks and immigrants into a bind: how can you complain when the environment and safety and “sustainable development” are the excuses? What, you are against green spaces? What, you disrespect native American burial grounds? You want to sue the Dept. of Housing? Then add another year to your delay.

Now here you are, Johnny-Come-Lately, complaining about some small-fry commercial development. Buddy, the whole real estate policy in California is racist and anti-poor, and has been for decades.