So who is to blame for the closing of the Oakwood Inn, the last conventional “bed and breakfast” in Raleigh? Is it startup Airnb and the entrepreneurial homeowners seeking to rent rooms more cheaply? Or is it regulators who have failed to act quickly against startups such as Airbnb and Uber that, quite frankly, flout regulations?

In Portland, Ore. last night, the city voted by the slimmest of margins, 3-2, to allow Uber and Lyft to offer their ride services. But at the same time they also deregulated the local taxi industry.

Now, who will win the “ride wars” when everyone has to follow the same rules?

Is Uber worth all those billions in investment and valuation if it has to provide the same services and customer protections that taxis do?

Shouldn’t that be the same requirement in the Triangle where taxi drivers and companies face increased competition?

Yes, Uber is chic to techies, but shouldn’t business be fair?

Should travelers arriving at Raleigh Durham International Airport have choice in rides? Of course. But a FAIR choice.

The same applies to Airbnb.

A level playing field

So says an Airbnb provider in Raleigh.

Gregg Stebben told WRAL:

“The playing field should be leveled,” he said. “No one, I’ve heard no one disagree that taxes should be collected. I think taxes should be collected.”

Yet the City of Raleigh continues to review the situation.

It’s time to act

The closing of the Oakwood Inn is a clarion call to the regulators: ACT.

Everyone should operate under the same rules. Relax them or enforce them – but treat all parties equally.

A defense of Uber, Lyft and Airbnb is that tech professionals like to utilize those services when they visit other cities. It’s the cool thing to do.

So what’s cool about this to Oakwood Inn owner Doris Jurkiewicz?

“My neighbor asked me why somebody should stay at the Oakwood Inn,” owner Doris Jurkiewicz told WRAL’s Candace Sweat on Monday. “And as I’m explaining it too her, she said ‘well why should they stay there? Your neighbors are doing the same thing.’ And I said ‘what?’”

Undercut by Airnb competitors, the Oakwood Inn is shutting down soon after 31 years in business.

“I had a knock on my door about a month or two later and the woman said ‘do you recognize me,'” she said. “And I said ‘you used to stay here. Did you move into the neighborhood?’ She says ‘oh no. I’m staying at your neighbor’s house. I couldn’t pass up the deal.’”

So where do you stay? Who drives you?

But techies and other consumers have an obligation, too.

They need to support businesses that follow the rules – for their own safety.

Uber has created a lot of ill will around the world and has been banned outright in some places. Even Portalnd is letting Uber back only grudgingly.

As The Associated Press reported:

“Though Uber has a global reputation for flouting government regulations, the company agreed to several conditions to operate in Portland.

“Uber drivers must have liability insurance, undergo background checks, obtain a business license and have their cars inspected. They won’t be allowed to accept street-hailed fares or park in taxi lines.

“Uber agreed to guarantee service to people with disabilities, something it hasn’t done elsewhere, and won’t be able to reject trip requests just because the length of the journey isn’t lucrative.

“Existing cab companies, meanwhile, will be allowed to hire as many drivers as they want and set fares without regulation.”

But distaste remains.

“I appreciate that they’ve been behaving themselves a bit lately but until they fire the guy who said he wanted to create a slush fund to blackmail journalists, I’m going to keep on saying I don’t like Uber,” Commissioner Steve Novick said.

“But,” he added, “we’re not voting on whether we like Uber. We’re voting on whether to allow a particular business model to operate.”

Good luck to Uber and Lyft in competing on equal terms in Portland.

Now, regulators in the Triangle: Implement the same rules for everyone so competition is fair.

Isn’t competition what entrepreneurship is all about?

Cool or fair?

The driving force for new businesses should NOT be just because they are cool.

“You’re the CEO of a tech company and you’re thinking about moving your company here because you’ve been lobbied by the city council or the mayor,” Stebben told WRAL. “And you see that Airbnb has been made illegal, you’re going to think this is not a place I want to move. This is not friendly to the tech industry or startups at all.”

Perhaps. But such a contention is wrong.

Raleigh and the Triangle should be friendly to startups. The amazing growth of the entrepreneurial community is proof. But governments and regulatory agencies should be friendly to existing businesses, too.

That’s only fair.