Some things are harder to share

In 2011, Time Magazine included “the sharing economy” as one of ten ideas that could change the world.  While it has yet to change the world, the sharing economy has begun to make its presence felt.  Think Uber and its robust reception in US, Germany, S Korea.  Some love it; some ban it.

The sharing economy is based on a simple idea that you don’t have to own everything you need, but someone does, and more value can be created for everyone through sharing.  Sharing is of course not new.  Human beings have always shared things.  What is new is our ability to use technology to connect what some people have, to what other people need in an efficient way.

Thus, in many cities, Uber connects car owners to commuters via convenient easy-to-use mobile apps.  It has been great for commuters, but the taxi drivers are not amused.  In Germany, they lobbied the Government to ban Uber. But overall, there are certainly great consumer benefits if more cars are shared and put to greater use for more people.

However, some things are harder to share than others.

Airbnb is an online community platform which allows home-sharing, renting out spare rooms to say, tourists for a few days.  But it has become hotly debated in many cities. New York City has banned it while Amsterdam and San Francisco allow it but are considering tighter regulations.

While it earns extra income for the home owners, their neighbours would not like to see their quiet neighbourhood becoming a hotel district.  I myself think it’s not a good idea.  We certainly do not allow such arrangements in HDB towns.

URA has been receiving views and comments from private home-owners. Some shared that they would enjoy the international friendships and cultural exchanges, but many others are uncomfortable with the presence of transient visitors in their community and utilising common facilities intended for bona fide residents. To them, short-term rental arrangements would result in the loss of privacy and sense of security.

To get a fuller picture, URA is conducting a public consultation on short term stays for private homes. If you have a view on this subject, do share it with them.

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