Completion of King County Dispute Resolution Center’s Mediation Practicum

By Oliver Spencer | March 23, 2016

I am very proud of having graduated from the King County Dispute Resolution Center’s Mediation Practicum, and I look forward to continuing to mediate community mediations at the Dispute Resolution Center.  The Practicum has been a rigorous, but rewarding two-year experience.  I also want to thank all of my instructors in the Practicum for their wisdom, kindness, and patience.

Speaking at Solo and Small Firm Practice Class University of Washington School of Law

By Oliver Spencer | February 24, 2016

Once again I spoke to the Solo and Small Firm Practice Class at the University of Washington School of Law.  The students are very inquisitive.  The subjects of my speaking were broadly-career paths, business plans, and marketing.  The students presented business plans at the beginning of class which were as detailed and professional as any business plans I have ever seen.  I am strongly encouraged that the next generation of lawyers will be even more talented than their predecessors, and hope that they use this talent to improve the world, both inside and outside of the legal system.

Brooklyn Man Builds Igloo In Backyard And Lists It On Airbnb

By Oliver Spencer | February 9, 2016


Brooklyn man builds igloo in backyard and lists it on Airbnb; website takes it down

BY Molly Crane-newman, Nancy Dillon


Updated: Tuesday, January 26, 2016, 8:26 AM

He built a romantic “boutique” igloo in his Brooklyn backyard – then got the cold shoulder from Airbnb when he listed it for $200 per night.

Patrick Horton used the vast quantities of powder from the weekend’s historic storm to build the artisanal accommodations outside his actual residence on India St. in Greenpoint.

“We figured someone might want to take their Tinder date there and would be willing to pay for it. How many girls could say that they were taken on a date in an urban igloo? Not many,” Horton, 28, told the Daily News.


Patrick H. Horton

Patrick Horton built this igloo outside his residence on India St. in Greenpoint.

Sadly for the aspiring proprietor, iced his listing in a matter of hours Sunday, leading him to consider other options, he said.

“I think we’ll try to put it on Craigslist. We might even offer a Tinder special. Maybe throw in some Usher (background music) and a bottle of wine,” he joked Monday.

The heart-melting hideaway includes two candles for ambience, puffy pillows, animal print blankets over a tarp and even some landscaping in the form of a small tree placed near the entrance, he told The News.

Dripping with ingenuity and alt-lifestyle aura lays this Snowpocalypse’s most desirable getaway,” Horton wrote for the quickly yanked Airbnb ad.

“Built completely by hand all natural,” he said. “Come experience this chic dome-style bungalow with Bae.”

Horton even offered to throw in some shampoo.

Patrick H. Horton

“Come experience this chic dome-style bungalow with Bae,” Horton wrote on before the website yanked his listing.

“We are happy to see that you guys are staying busy and having fun during Blizpocalypse. Unfortunately, your igloo, while very well constructed, has failed to meet our occupancy standards and has been removed from search results,” a rejection letter from Airbnb said.

“As an appreciator of fine igloos around the world, I did want to offer you a coupon that you can use to book your first reservation as a guest,” the letter said. “Be sure to pick a place with running water, electricity, and a roof that doesn’t melt.”

Horton was disappointed, especially considering other igloos do rent rooms on the website, he said.

“It’s way stronger than we thought,” he argued to The News. “We had four or five people in there last night. Even if you bump up against the wall, nothing falls on you. The walls are two feet thick.”

An advertising art director originally from Seattle, Horton said he and his two roommates cooked up the idea for the igloo at least two months ago, watched how-to videos online and waited for enough snow to fall.

“Unfortunately, your igloo, while very well constructed, has failed to meet our occupancy standards and has been removed from search results,” a rejection letter sent by Airbnb says.

“We had obviously never done it before, but we had fun with it, drank a couple beers,” he said.

They spent about four hours building a hard-packed pile about eight feet high on Saturday and then let it harden overnight, he said.

After another four hours spent digging out the interior Sunday and adding the finishing touches, they listed the cozy cave online.

Patrick H. Horton

The igloo was still standing Monday, he told The News, and he considered listing it on

“It was a joke, but we’re straddling the line between being satirical and serious,” he said Monday. “If someone wanted to pay $200, I would have done it. But I probably would have made fun of them.”

Horton claimed five people showed interest during the igloo’s brief window on Airbnb, but he lost the ability to contact them when the listing was deactivated.

“It was all disappeared,” he said with a laugh.

He admitted he doesn’t have igloo insurance.

“Even if it did fall, it wouldn’t kill you,” he said, mulling the idea of sleeping inside the structure himself Monday night. “Well, check back with me tomorrow.”

    airbnb and landlord deal

    By Oliver Spencer | December 17, 2015

    Rent your place on Airbnb? The landlord wants a cut

    Revenue-sharing model would allow apartment dwellers to market rooms through lodging website

    The Wall Street Journal

    Three of the nation’s largest landlords have held discussions with Airbnb Inc. about allowing apartment dwellers to market rooms through the company’s global network in exchange for a slice of the revenue.

    Equity Residential, AvalonBay Communities Inc. and Camden Property Trust have had discussions with Airbnb in recent weeks about joining forces, executives at each of the companies said. They all said they are interested in pursuing a revenue-sharing model with Airbnb but would need to work out details.

    The moves hold the potential to expand Airbnb’s access to rental units across the country and further formalize a business that has grown from a matchmaking service for couch-surfers into a real threat to established hotels.

    Airbnb’s service has long run afoul of many apartment companies’ contracts. A truce could allow a bigger portion America’s housing stock to be used as hotel rooms, potentially adding thousands of new listings to Airbnb’s books by allowing tenants to openly use the site rather than handing over their keys on the sly.

    Equity Residential is the largest publicly traded U.S. apartment operator, with about 108,000 units, according to the company, while AvalonBay is the second largest with 83,000 units and Camden owns about 59,000 units, according to the companies.

    “A lot of our hosts are renters,” said Christopher Nulty, an Airbnb spokesman. “Any solution we would be able to identify would be a win-win-win for everyone involved.” Earlier this year, Airbnb tapped a former San Francisco real-estate executive for a position dedicated to forging partnerships with apartment operators.

    Home dwellers who use Airbnb’s website to list rooms or entire homes for rent pay Airbnb a percentage of the nightly rate. But most apartment leases have restrictions that forbid tenants to sublet or to do so without permission. That has made many of the apartment dwellers who advertise their units on Airbnb’s website subject to possible eviction, a hurdle to Airbnb’s growth thus far.

    Nevertheless, Airbnb, founded in 2008, now lists about 322,500 accommodations in the U.S., up 80% from a year earlier, according to the company. It generated $340 million of revenue in the third quarter, on bookings of $2.2 billion, according to an investor presentation earlier this year reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

    Airbnb’s valuation has ballooned as home dwellers and travelers have embraced the service. As of last month the San Francisco-based company was valued at $25.5 billion, almost matching Equity Residential’s $28 billion market capitalization.

    “You just can’t turn your head or keep your head in the sand over what’s going on,” said David Santee, Equity Residential’s chief operating officer. A potential deal is “just a way to figure out how can everybody coexist, bring transparency and figure out a way that everybody can win.”

    Kristy Simonette, chief information officer at Camden, said the company is in early talks with Airbnb about a partnership. “While it’s a little scary, we do think there’s a play there,” she said.

    Tim Naughton, chief executive of AvalonBay, said in a conference call in late October that the company is deciding “whether we want to embrace it.”

    Airbnb has struggled to win support from some local political officials, tenants groups and rental property owners, however. Critics warn that apartments could essentially be converted into hotel rooms, depleting the rental stock in cities with housing crunches, such as New York, San Francisco and New Orleans.

    Such a deal could place Airbnb under additional scrutiny from lawmakers by seeking to legitimize the use of apartments as hotel rooms. Lawmakers in some cities are seeking to crack down on the practice, arguing that it takes units off the market for local residents and that apartment buildings don’t adhere to the same fire and safety codes as hotels.

    “I’m sort of appalled that Airbnb thinks the next answer to their problem of not running a legal business is to try to convince some number of landlords … that they can get in on the deal,” said New York State Senator Liz Krueger, a Democrat and vocal opponent of Airbnb.

    Executives at the three apartment companies said they plan to examine local laws carefully to ensure they don’t run afoul of them. Mr. Santee, of Equity Residential, said they would only let residents rent units out on Airbnb occasionally, ensuring they don’t get converted into full-time hotel rooms.

    Airbnb officials have said in the past that the vast majority of its users are renting out their apartments only occasionally on the site, helping them afford rapidly rising rents in those cities.

    Some landlords are hostile to Airbnb because tenants are able to make money off their units with no direct financial benefit to the landlord. Others are concerned that having people staying in their buildings who haven’t undergone the same background checks puts existing tenants at risk of having to deal with noisy partyers or unsavory characters.

    Airbnb officials said residents have an incentive to screen candidates looking to stay in their homes. The website also allows hosts to rate guests, providing a check on unruly users.

    In San Francisco’s recent battle over Airbnb, the San Francisco Apartment Association, a landlord group, joined forces with tenant groups to support Proposition F, a ballot measure that limited the number of nights a year a unit could be rented out to 75.

    Landlords and tenants “are normally at one another’s throats,” said Dale Carlson, co-founder of ShareBetter San Francisco, which helped lead the fight for the ballot measure. Instead, he said, the groups wrote the anti-Airbnb measure together. “The apartment association catered lunch and it wasn’t poisoned,” he said.

    Major landlords, such as Related Cos., have moved to evict New York tenants who rent out their units, citing local laws that prohibit renting out a multifamily unit for less than 30 days if the resident isn’t present.

    Airbnb got its start appealing to travelers seeking a less corporate, more informal local experience than traditional hotels. But as the company grows, it has been seeking ways to formalize its business, such as by offering to pay hotel taxes in some municipalities and venturing into the professional vacation rental business by developing software that would help link property managers to the site.

    But landlords could stand to benefit from a hookup with Airbnb. They could impose a fee to tenants for allowing them to rent out their units, apartment executives and analysts said.

    Landlords also could find it easier to pass along rent increases. If tenants can get $300 a night renting their room from time to time, it is easier for landlords to keep pushing steep rent increases, the apartment executives and analysts said.

    “For those that are pushing the threshold of affordability, maybe they can do an Airbnb or two a month,” said Wes Golladay, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets. “Maybe it’s affordable and they can stay.”

    Solo and Small Firm Practice Class

    By Oliver Spencer | February 24, 2015

    I spoke at the University of Washington School of Law’s solo and small firm practice class recently regarding solo practice, business plans, marketing, ethics, and other topics.  This engagement is always a joy in which to participate and highly rewarding for all involved.

    U.W. Law School Mediation Moot Court Competition

    By Oliver Spencer | February 24, 2015

    I recently served as a judge for the University of Washington Law School’s mediation moot court competition.  This competition offers a great opportunity for law students to work together on a collaborative basis during a facilitative mediation, as opposed to using the more common adversarial model for negotiations taught in law school and employed in litigation.

    U.W. Law School Mentorship Reception

    By Oliver Spencer | October 1, 2014

    I attended the U.W. Law School mentorship reception last evening.  I got to meet my new mentee.  The speaker at this event was Judge Lori K. Smith.  I have now participated in the mentorship program at the University of Washington School of Law for nine years.

    Meeting With Law Student Mentee

    By Oliver Spencer | September 19, 2014

    I met with one of my mentees from the University of Washington School of Law yesterday.  It is always interesting to hear what is happening in the legal world from a law student’s perspective.

    King County Bar Association Future of the Law Institute Committee

    By Oliver Spencer | September 19, 2014

    I joined the King County Bar Association Future of the Law Institute Committee yesterday.  This Committee is designed to allow underprivileged youth to be exposed to opportunities in the legal profession.

    Presentation at Small And Solo Practice Class

    By Oliver Spencer | May 7, 2014

    I made my annual presentation to the Small And Solo Practice class at the University of Washington School of Law today regarding solo practitioner legal career paths and ethics.  I am always amazed by the intelligence and caliber of the students and the intelligence and quality of their questions.