As we first reported yesterday, a proposed ballot measure to further restrict, or in some cases ban, short-term rentals in San Francisco is expected to be submitted to San Francisco’s Department of Elections today.

The proposed initiative would prohibit short-term rentals in neighborhoods which are not zoned for commercial use, would create a public registry for any unit being rented, and would require intermediaries such as Airbnb or VRBO to verify units are registered, insured and paying taxes, according to the Chronicle.

In addition, the draft language would allow private citizens who identify illegal rentals to file legal action and receive 30 percent of any fines and back taxes recovered along with their legal fees.

Former San Francisco Planning Commissioner Doug Engmann, long-time housing activist Calvin Welch, and public relations professional Dale Carlson are leading the charge.

92 thoughts on “Behind The Ballot Measure To Restrict Airbnb’s Business In SF”
  1. Well…well I see one of our local 1960’s neighborhood radical’s, Mr. Calvin Welch crawled out of his $$$million$$$ dollar mansion in the Haight to stir things up.
    This should be interesting to watch. Calvin is unknown to most new young 20~35 year old’s living in San Francisco today. I think he is as old as dirt…lol. May be a bit of a generational gap here.
    And given that it appears over 65% of those polled living in SF today actually support “short term” rentals I wonder where he is going to find support for this ballot measure.
    I thought I read that the goons over at the tenants union supported minor changes in the RC law allowing short term rentals…..that is as long as you “register with the state”…..kind of what Jewish people had to do in 1930 Germany. And kind of creepy if you ask me.
    You know there was some VC guy who wrote a OP ed piece last year who was crucified for expressing his views on “progressives” in the Bay Area. Well maybe his views are not that far off given what the “progressives” want landlords to do in SF.
    We are from the government and we are here to help you.
    15000 units using Airbnb or similar in a city of over 800,000 residents….yep a burning problem in search of a solution….”a final solution”.

  2. A San Francisco Statsi and more lawsuits, exactly what San Francisco needs. (not)
    A fair tax should be paid, but the banning of short term rentals is very regressive in a progressive city.

  3. The City will look for scapegoats until Planning learns how to zone and densify. (Think Western SOMA underzoning, under-built building by building, absence of any specific goal-oriented denser transit corridor plan, NIMBYism as a front and center culture).
    The tens of thousands of units coming off the market through VRBO, Flipkey, Roomerama, Homeaway and others are not the elephant in the room. The absence of a housing plan is.
    Mayor Lee’s 30,000 homes will happen on their own without his empty intoning. Think bigger and DO SOMETHING.
    now, back to my incoming reservations…..

  4. That’s still an attempt to shoot down stays that are less than 30 days, right? If so I am still safe.
    By far the main reasons I am doing airbnb are
    1) I want to get an income from my property (I am an evil capitalist) and
    2) I am opposed to “locking” a rent which in many cases amounts to having a tenant forever. What if I need to go back in? What if I need to sell? What if my life’s circumstances change? All current provisions to defend our property rights are very weak and too restrictive in so many ways.
    One wrong move and you are royally screwed as a landlord in San Francisco.
    I am keeping my unit away from the regular rental market until rent control is repealed which sounds like the 5th of Never.

  5. I will vote for this. My neighbors house is a revolving door. My husband travels a lot and I didn’t sign up to buy a house next to a hotel. Safety concerns.
    I think neighbors in the vicinity should have a say in whether they want a hotel, similar to getting a say on new construction or remodel. And I also think this should only be allowed in commercial districts.

  6. @Jill: Don’t be a busybody, and stay out of your neighbors’ business. Life will be easier and better that way. “Safety concerns” yeah, right. As if a thousand random strangers don’t walk past your place on any given day as it is. 1 or 2 more makes no difference.

  7. I’m in agreement with Jill. If I wanted to live in a hotel, I’d live in a hotel. A thousand random strangers may walk past my building on a given day, but none of them can gain access to my building by signing up for a stay on AirBnB.
    Let’s keep it that way.

  8. It is my business and all my other neighbors feel the same way. We didn’t sign up to live next to a hotel. There is a difference between people walking by and people renting for a few days with no regard for their surroundings. I asked one of the “weekend renters” to turn down their music at 1130 on tues night and stop smoking pot in the backyard because I have a kid who has school. The guy told me he was on vacation. Called the cops but same crap next day. We are not zoned for hotels and they should be allowed unless renowned and not without neighborhood approval . And I am not anti progressive. Just the opposite. I would never block residential development but would try to stop a motel 6 from coming next door

  9. Jill, you do recognize each guest has been identified with a valid ID, right?
    On the other hand the guy who’s sleeping in an alcove a few doors down could very well be a sex offender, an arsonist or a convicted felon. Now THAT is a major safety concern. I recall the Castro Arsonist a few years ago who turned out to be a crazy homeless guy who should have been locked up long ago. He could have killed people.
    But. Nobody. Cares.
    But heck, having financially solvent and properly identified people rotating in and out of the house next door is a big safety no-no.
    Only in San Francisco.

    1. Jill is absolutely correct. We live next door to an airbnb rental. This is a private residential neighborhood in San Diego, where over 50% of the people on this street OWN their homes. What right does this man, who has owned this house since 1991, have to turn this home into a hotel? Last night was New Year’s Eve. Thank God it was so cold in San Diego the noise was kept indoors, but this morning, the area carpet was out on the front lawn being cleaned, things were being hosed down in the driveway….and why should these people care about damaging property, or making noise, or interfering with a neighbor’s right to privacy? They’re only here for 2-3 nights. These cities need to crack down on this industry, or make it more of a challenge. I refuse to kowtow to these people, will not speak to them – if they dared to speak to me or ask a question, I’d tell them to go check in with their concierge. As someone else said above, if I wanted to buy a house next door to a hotel, I would have bought a condo in the gaslamp district of San Diego, or in one of the beach communities, where one expects noise and disruption.

  10. lol, just because there are nut jobs out on the city streets doesn’t make building security a non-issue when it comes to AirBnB renters.

  11. Tenants should not be allowed to unilaterally decide to turn the unit they are renting into a hotel.
    Businesses like airbnb should be required to make sure users pay their taxes, just like everyone else.
    This is a good ballot proposal.

  12. People, can we all just get along? How about a mechanism with the city whereby if a host has too many complaints and/or there no resolutions, then they get their hosting right yanked? I’m sure that most hosts work hard to control their guests, and we just need a bit of stick from the city….something I’m sure they would love to do.
    But yeah, chiu’s legislation probably makes more sense. Allow short term rentals, but account for it. Owners have free reign. Tenants? Only if LL doesn’t have a sub lease clause, then s/he is screwed. Otherwise tenant can’t sublet w/o permission from LL. As it should be.
    As a LL who doesn’t do short term, I’m for this legislation, because it allows many other LL’s to do short term, and hence less competition for me 🙂 So I’m down with it.
    What do other think about chiu’s legislation? I think it’s way better and less invasive than this POS.

  13. Think about it this way: neighborly reciprocity of conduct (you don’t disturb me, I don’t disturb you) is essential for living in a compact urban environment. AirBnB hosts are using this unstated compact to generate profit by offering the result of that reciprocity as a means of attracting renters to a desirable area, made desirable by good reciprocity among other things. But the hosts don’t demand that the renters uphold the host’s part of the reciprocity agreement.

  14. Fishchum,
    Where is the outrage at all the crazy things that happen in this city each and every day? Where are the ballot initiatives? What I see here is double-standards fueled by cowardice. SF has bigger issues than airbnb, but the other issues are the elephant in the room everyone wants to ignore.
    One day it’s Googlers gentrifying (while the non-gentrified corner boys sell their wares in public), another day it’s RE speculators (while our young cannot find anything affordable due to old coots living large for next to nothing), another day it’s airbnb guests who “scare” people (while the sex offender homeless guy roams free and unbeknownst to local dwellers).
    I have been doing airbnb for corporate relocations for more than a year. None of my neighbors have ever complained. Now I agree they should crack down on tenants breaking their leases, which should take care of most of the problem. But seriously, we do have more pressing issues.

  15. There are also the issues of liability and damage.
    If someone brings bedbugs into an apartment, and bedbugs travel on luggage, then the landlord has to pay to get rid of them. SF Rent laws prohibit the landlord from charging the tenants to clean up bedbugs. If the tenant doesn’t report it, then the infestation spreads, and it can get very, very expensive.
    As for liability, who is going to get sued the first time someone is beaten, robbed, raped or killed by a “guest”. A tenant with no assets or the owner?

  16. LOL I’m with Jill on this one. I’m generally fine with AirBnB, and have certainly used them. But if I were an owner, and there was a rotating cast of party-hearty folks cycling through the house next door (or worse a unit adjacent to me) I would be quite upset.
    When you buy on a street which is zoned residential, there are certain things you expect (and for which you paid in your purchase price). One of the most important is a stable group of neighbors.
    The lions share of AirBnB users are completely innocuous. I know I am. I suppose there are certain units that lend themselves to bachelor party weekends and the like, and that would be a major pain in the butt to deal with as a neighbor, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.
    Parenthetically, the block I live on in the Mission has several houses that have regular garage band practices and backyard parties. We occasionally have very noisy weekend nights until quite late. It’s a mix of owners and renters on the block, but no one seems to complain (at least I haven’t seen cops shutting down any parties). I realized this was what the Mission is like when I moved in, and it doesn’t bother me in the least (and I’m actually ruing the day, soon, when some indignant new owner starts complaining). All to say…expectations matter a lot.

  17. @Jill: “I think neighbors in the vicinity should have a say in whether they want a hotel, similar to getting a say on new construction or remodel.”
    Now why is it you think neighbors should get a say on new construction or remodel?

  18. Jill, can you clarify the problem you are facing? Is this a rent controlled tenant who has turned the house next door into an AirBnB short term rental? Or is it the home owner? Depending upon the situation, there are some fairly simple remedies available.

  19. I don’t know how I’ll vote yet but I am glad this is being voted on. It should be an issue for voters to decide. People rail against regulations but regulations reflect the will of the people and this will be a case in point. It’s not the ‘rights’ of the free market. It’s the rights of citizens in a democracy which needs to be upheld.

  20. curmudgeon,
    Yes expectations matter a lot. I purchased in the Castro knowing there would be a few nights a year with thumping music and a very lively crowd. My steps are often the scene of who knows what. Sometimes I am pi$$ed at the crowd or the noise. But I am not going to tell people how to live their lives. If you have an HOA you can enforce some level of quiet, that’s fine. But this is a city and neither view, sun or peace are guaranteed.
    I recall Spike Lee’s movie title “Sucka Free City”. Well, SF dwellers live in a city, pay a small fortune for it AND expect the peace and quiet their money should have bought. Nope. Suckers!

  21. It’s simply about commercial vs residential zoning. Airbnb hosts are no different than hotel owners. If area not zoned for a hotel, there should be no hotel. I’m sure having a motel 6 next door might change your opinion. Honestly, what’s the difference?
    I don’t care if it’s an owner or renter. If the neighbors get a say on whether to allow allow zoning for hotels and they all vote for it (even if I don’t), then I will support it.

  22. To all those arguing that AirBNB should not be made illegal, that ship sailed long ago. It is already illegal. In fact, in additional to civil fines and attorneys fees, you can be jailed for it:
    Any owner or business entity who rents a residential unit for tourist or transient use [ie under 30 days] as defined in this Chapter shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. Any person convicted of a misdemeanor hereunder shall be punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000 or by imprisonment in the County Jail for a period of not more than six months, or by both. Each residential unit rented for tourist or transient use shall constitute a separate offense.
    Looks like the most significant impact of this initiative would be to extend the enforcement options, to everyone. There is close to no enforcement currently (city attorney’s splashy civil suit against just two owners is the exception that proves the rule). The registration issue is pure common sense – we make all sorts of businesses register and I see no reason to keep hotels, illegal or not, off that list.
    I’d vote for this. Not a good idea to turn the entire city into a hotel zone. The commercial zoning limitation makes perfect sense as that is where commercial activity should be limited. And since all residents are adversely affected by the illegal conduct, all should have the right to sue to stop it. Taking bets that this passes.
    [Editor’s Note: Or as we first reported in 2012: How To Lose Up To $1,000 A Day (Or Your Lease) Using Airbnb.]

  23. the law is meant to prevent landlords from taking housing stock off the market and creating non regulated full time hotel rooms

  24. Jill, don’t forget to tell them about the homeless situation on our streets. I am certain they’ll do something about it 😉

  25. It’s not the ‘rights’ of the free market. It’s the rights of citizens in a democracy which needs to be upheld.

    Exactly. And Jill is entirely correct on this one.
    lol and the pro-AirBnB landlords simply think they can do whatever they want because they’re making money and because they make money whatever they do is justified, but this isn’t a matter of a simple transaction between a buyer of service and a seller that faux libertarians want it to be (this is the main thing, btw, that separates AirBnB and VRBO, etc. from other so-called “sharing economy” services like SnapGoods or RelayRides).
    The pro-AirBnB landlords simply want to wish the neighbors of the units they put in AirBnB away, put the neighbors live there (and in many cases, especially in S.F., AirBnB “hosts” are absentee landlords) and have to deal with the fallout that AirBnB “guests” impose on them.
    For this reason alone, a ballot measure is an excellent idea. If the pro-AirBnB landlords’ position has merit, it will fail on election day.

  26. I don’t appreciate people jumping on Jill. I didn’t care one way or another about Airbnb or residential hotels until the house next to me began the daily motel routine a year ago. It gets old. It is being advertised as “paradise in the City” It is constant, strange and a hassle. I realize it is great for the people getting all the money, but neighbors are left to suffer the impacts and pick up the pieces. Fundamentally unfair.

    1. I know I’m reading all this many months after the fact, but so many of these opinions are words right out of my mouth. I always tell people, “Airbnb is a great concept until you live next to one. End of subject.” That usually shuts them up. Great for the person making all the money off the grief of their “neighbors”. I actually got along with this homeowner until he got greedy. Now, living in San Diego about one mile from that world-famous zoo, lots of walkable restaurants, bus lines and freeways nearby, you can bet this is a prime location. I think it’s about time the rights of private citizens, in their private, zoned residential homes, had a say in this matter!

  27. I understand where people would not be happy with living next door to a hotel. I’m in that situation now, as my building’s management company decided to do away with long term renters and my building now rents to those staying a minimum of 30 days. It’s a nightmare. There are people coming and going all times of the day and night, and we have no one in the lobby after 5 pm nor on the weekends. We also do not have a live-in manager, which is apparently required by law due to the size of our building. However, the building is owned by Trinity and I suppose they have paid off the correct people to avoid any legal ramifications.
    There ARE responsible Airbnb hosts, and unfortunately the poor examples are showing up next door to Jill and others. You can specify the minimum amount of days, restrict number of people staying, prohibit smoking, noise past a certain time, etc. It’s just that not every host is a good host.

  28. This will be an interesting fight to watch. The interests:
    Landlords: want to do whatever they want whenever they want with their units, with no taxes. Same interests they’ve always had. But there are not many of them so their interests generally lose out in the popular vote. They, of course, will vote against this.
    Tenants: Lots of them, so they generally win. Historically wanted rent control and tight restrictions on short term rentals. But now a fair number of tenants are also landlords, sub-letting their place (in whole or part on AirBnB). Some will be against this, but most will vote for it as the threat of being evicted, directly or not, to convert their unit to a hotel room will resonate.
    Homeowners: did not really care about landlord/tenant issues. But now some AirBnB their places occasionally, and many are irritated by the neighborhood turning into a hotel zone. A split, but my bet is they will lean in favor of this.
    AirBnB: they don’t vote, but they obviously will sink money into the “No” campaign.
    Hotels: they do not like AirBnB encroaching on their monopoly. They don’t vote, but they will contribute good money to the “Yes” campaign on this.
    I think the hotel money will make the difference. The message that commercial zones are the appropriate place for commercial activities will resonate with the common sense crowd, and the fear in tenants that they will be ousted for “rich” tech landlords and tourists will turn them in favor of this. But it will be a fairly close vote.

  29. lol and the pro-AirBnB landlords simply think they can do whatever they want because they’re making money and because they make money whatever they do is justified
    There you go with your misrepresentations again.
    My position, repeated many times already is the following:
    I do know hosting for less than 30 days is a legal issue and therefore I am only doing 31+days leases. This is a good business, and I am staying 100% within the current laws.
    BUT, I am for a much needed dusting off of outdated laws. I think Chiu’s proposal goes a bit too far into the micro-managing. Yes on cracking down on rent controlled tenants making a killing behind their landlord’s back (it’s in the lease terms anyway, no need for a new law). No on limiting the number of days you can rent out your own place. Yes on paying transient residency taxes.
    Now I would love one day to be allowed to offer shorter term stays, like 2 weeks.
    My reaction to Jill’s complaints has to do with what you have to expect in a city. I hated being awaken once a week at 3AM by the guy working at a Castro bar and very quietly revving up his Hog, but what is he going to do? Change jobs because his Harley bothers me? Park one block down and wake someone else? It’s a city, nothing is guaranteed and I know it.

  30. anon, in your attempt to one-up Brahma you are just being ridiculous.
    “Rich” who want to pay “no tax”. Sigh. What year is this? 1917? Time to evolve.
    SF is 85% DNC and the host/owners are very likely to vote Democrat, not the libertarians you think they are.

  31. Can we put an end to the “that’s life in the big city” defense of AirBnB, please? Just because city living requires a certain level of tolerance of your neighbors doesn’t mean we all have to accept an “anything goes” mentality when it comes to our neighbors.

  32. Fishchum, everyone makes choices at some point that bother the next guy. Everything lies in the scale of the annoyance. Say you pay 2M for your house and the neighbor’s dog is locked in and barks all day while you are at home. What about very noisy kids? Someone moving in and pushing furniture around? Someone’s choice affected the quality of life of a neighbor. Do you send the cops for it? Nope, because they are socially accepted annoyances. And you know that you were or will be in a similar situation one day.
    Now in future maybe everyone will use short term hosting like airbnb either as a guest or as a host. People travel and leave their place empty, which is a waste. This means virtually all of us one day can be on the receiving end of the deal. You were bothered by the tourists who came to your neighbor a while back? Well today you’ll have some visitors at your place.

  33. I’m not sold on Airbnb quite yet. This is a lassie case of Socializing the costs and privatizing the gain at the residential level. Airbnbers need to fully account for the costs involved with turning a residential residence into a transient rental. As some of the responses have amply confirmed that they still do not fully understand how disruptive this is. Airbnb needs more oversight to protect tenants and landlords being abused by wannabe hotelier scofflaws alike.

  34. So I should just accept my neighbor AirBnB’ing his unit because someday I MIGHT be a host myself? Really? That’s your defense?

  35. An unaddressed point is what to do when a master tenant charges more than their rent to a sub tenant. If the base rent is $1,000 but the sub tenant pays $1,500 – what happens to the extra $500?
    Currently the master tenant keeps it. But 37.3(c) of the Rent Board Ordinance says a tenant may charge no more rent upon initial occupancy of the subtenant than the rent which the tenant is currently paying.
    Over charging a sub tenant is not just cause for eviction, and how would this sort of subtenant even know they are getting ripped off. And how exactly would this be enforced?

  36. Fischum, that was an expansion of my much longer point. But you simplified it into a one liner to your purpose. Good for you your life is so simple.

  37. Short term rent is lots of work and probably not lots of homeowners would do it if it weren’t for rent control. So blame the culprit there, not the symptom.
    If I could rent my unit to long term renters without fearing that I will lose my house altogether, I’d have done so! But SF is being more cuba than cuba itself every day and makes it very hard to be homeowner. You have to pay HUGE property tax that includes rent board, teachers support, blah, blah, blah, you name it. And then you need to take care the tree ON THE STREET, in front of your house. And if there is any crack on the walk way in front of you house, you need to fix that too. In the meantime, you have renters and you’re capped in the rent income.
    Isn’t that like working for a company for 20 years without a raise??

  38. lol, you didn’t have a point. Yes, we do things which sometime annoy our neighbors. But that doesn’t mean we’re free to do whatever the hell we want because “that’s life in the big city”.
    Castro bartender riding his Hog at 3 AM?
    That’s life in the big city!
    Someone pissing and shitting on my doorstep?
    That’s life in the big city!
    Someone smashing beer bottle on my sidewalk?
    That’s life in the big city!
    Some AirBnB’er on vacation and cranking music and smoking pot?
    That’s life in the big city!
    Sorry, I don’t think so.

  39. Short-term rentals in San Francisco are not a “socially accepted annoyance”, they are illegal.
    Fine by me if they change the law, but until they do, Airbnb and hosts should either abide or suffer the consequences when they don’t.

  40. CH, then please join Jill and approach the law enforcement authorities. While you are there please let them know about the people jaywalking, the people smoking pot in Dolores Park, the homeless people urinating everywhere and all those things that are not supposed to happen but yet still happen. Please be my voice for these other legitimate concerns.
    I am not validating an illegal behavior (please see my post at 2:35PM), just that 1) we have much bigger fish to fry and 2) we do need to frame the legal domain. But a person jaywalking is not leaving any digital trail, and homeless people leave another kind of trail, though not easily traceable. NYC has understood that and is trying to shake the tree by requesting all the names and addresses of airbnb hosts to identify scofflaws.

  41. 4oceans said: I didn’t care one way or another about Airbnb or residential hotels until the house next to me began the daily motel routine a year ago.
    So what have you done about it. I believe the next step is to send the property owner:
    1. A copy of the Airbnb listing.
    2. A copy of the relevant Zoning Code.
    3. A copy of the city’s lawsuit against two short term landlords.
    Some folks may find this is enough to put the property owner on notice.

  42. Jills point is a good one. If someone is going to put a motel 6 next to your home, then it has to go through some approval process. I live on Lake and know one of my neighbors (2blks away) basically stopped another from renting out via airbnb by harrassing the owner until he didnt think profit was worth harrassment. not suggesting harrassment, but Jill, you might simply ask your neighbor to stop renting out his unit short term and remind him of the law. maybe even give him your motel 6 analogy. its a good one. i definitely dont think airbnb should fly in residential areas. as part of registration, i think they should have to put a sign on their unit or bldg letting others know it is an airBNB unit.
    how can someone compare homeless problem to this? homeless problem is a social issue affecting mainly alcoholics, drug addicts and people with mental issues. We as a society have the obligation to take care of them. Forger law enforcement. how about the city building more shelters.
    or maybe the airbnb hosts can just house the homeless.

  43. moto mayhem, when I look at the rates of some well located airbnb listings, I would suggest comparing with a Hyatt, not a Motel 6…
    My analogy with homeless urinating has to do with behavior that we know is illegal and yet tolerated. Pot smoking, jaywalking and such. Homelessness is a big and complex issue. I am ok with taking care of those that our city created.

  44. This law will pass and I hope it does. Agree with Jill. Don’t want a transient mill next to my house or next to investment properties either.

  45. I still think the solution (if there is one!) is just simply: allow AirBnB/VRBO in a unit, but only for up to about 4 weeks a year.
    You have to ‘register’ so it’ easy to track (with city or airbnb or both).
    Anyone can look up a unit to see it’s history (the price you pay if you decide to do this).
    Severe penalties to airbnb/vrbo and owner/landlord if you break this. Neighbors can easily see / track this too.
    Winner: Airbnb gets more stock from folks who just want to do this occasionally.
    Winner: rental stock doesn’t get hit as much (wouldn’t make sense to keep a unit off market all year just for 4 weeks of airbnb rent)
    Winner: neighbors have just a short-term rental situation next door so it’s not like the place has been re-zoned to a motel 6.
    Loser: landlords that have turned their units into full time airbnb/vrbo stock, but if they were doing this less than 30-days a pop they were breaking the law anyway.

  46. This “law” is more about providing an income stream to the Tenants Union, Gullicksen, Preston and other tenant activists using a lynch-mob of citizen enforcers. It’s also meant as a campaign boost for Campos who is struggling for attention.

  47. I have been hosting guests from all over the world since 2005 before Airbnb. I like many others needed to rent out my place while I was away to pay for my vacation and mortgage. I make it clear to all my guests to respect my neighbors. I also notified my neighbors when I was out of town that friends would be staying while I was away. No one has ever complained. In fact, if I let my real friends or family stay in my house for free I am sure they would be worse than the guests I have invited into my home. The thing is I am in a much better financial situation then I was in 2005 and I am grateful for that. It is 2014 and I still rent out my place on occasion when I am away – not for the money – but to share with others around the globe the wonderful city that we live in. I think it is crazy to let my house run empty and to not share it with someone else. Yes, I am all in and want to pay my taxes. Jill, next time you might want to send a nice courteous note over to your neighbor asking for them to let their guests know that it is important to be quiet after 9. I am sure the host would take full action. I know I would. On top of that, maybe join the guests for a conversation, you might find yourself enjoying the experience. Side note, best guests so far Australia, France, and Spain.

  48. ^ tl;dr
    I simply want to improve my $$$ situation — regardless of laws, zoning, or the impact on my neighbors — write me a note if you have any concerns.

  49. Airbnb should be embraced. It’s wonderful experience for people around the world and for the homeowners who needs the extra income. It’s not harming neighbors.

  50. “Isn’t that like working for a company for 20 years without a raise??”
    I am a homeowner in SF but I get tired of landlords complaining about rent control. You knew what you were buying into and rent control is not going away anytime soon. If you’ve owned your units for any length of time, your property has appreciated dramatically. So quit whining. Sell your place and buy income property somewhere where there’s no rent control. You don’t have to go very far.

  51. @94114
    I think the same can be said of any tenant who is evicted under the Ellis Act. Yet there seems to be no shortage of tenants “whining” about being evicted. “Whining” seems to be a favorite pastime of San Franciscans.

  52. 94114,
    Oh the tired old line “you knew what you were getting into”. So is marriage: everyone cautions you and yet people still get married.
    Say you purchase a building today with inflation under 2%, but nothing tells you what inflation will be in 5 years or 20 years. You are taking the risk of purchasing physical property but you are doing something good for society (providing shelter) and getting a reward (rent).
    Inflation happens, and incomes follow or beat inflation. Rent more often than not reflects the level of income of a city’s citizenry. It is only normal to have rents follow incomes, reflected by market rent. If rents go up faster than incomes, people will stop renting, increasing supply and therefore adjusting rents on the way down.
    This system has been running smoothly everywhere in the world for centuries. Sone of the few places where this is broken are places with rent control that try to break the normal functioning of the rental market. If you call me libertarian for wanting a logical and fair system then the entire world is libertarian…

  53. I’d have more sympathy for you and other landlords who whine about low rents if your property hadn’t increased dramatically in value over the last several years. Sell your place and buy income property in Marin or San Mateo where there’s no rent control. Good or bad, fair or not, Rent control is the reality in San Francisco.

  54. 94114, did you just tell me where to buy? Do you also want to pick the brand of my next car for my own good? Should I use stick or automatic? Can you vet my wife too? Some nerve…
    I didn’t purchase in the 94114 (yup, probably neighbors) for the appreciation but for the place itself and the location. airbnb potential income was there which was the icing on the cake.

  55. A better strategy would be to convert these burdensome rental properties to TICs and create more homeowners like “94114”.

  56. I don’t think areas not zoned for hotels should have to bear the burden of an influx of people with no other connection to their community than wanting a cheap place to stay. I live in the Haight and I see daily the consequences of having too many people who are just passing through: streets clogged with suburbanites looking for parking, trash, and noise.
    I saw an article in the NY Times stating that prostitutes were renting Airbnb places for their business because the cost is less than a hotel. Want that next door?

  57. I will add HoBnB to my list of new apps. It’s “tech” and it allows people to make money, and those two things trump all other concerns.

  58. Airbnb should be embraced. It’s wonderful experience for people around the world and for the homeowners who needs the extra income. It’s not harming neighbors.

    Uh, No. This is at best just a defense mechanism.
    The neighbors didn’t sign up to live next door to a hotel and have to shoulder the impact while the property owner pockets all the revenue (“the extra income”).
    Since this is a blog and people like to share their personal experiences, here’s mine. I had barely even heard of the name AirBnB and certainly didn’t know what kind of thing they were doing before I had to deal with one of these “guests” that folks like MissGSF say must “respect [her] neighbors”, but of course don’t take any steps to enforce that respect.
    I came home one night tired after a long bike ride home and someone I’d never seen in the building before caught be in the stairway and informed me, very nicely, that they were staying in the apartment next door to mine and that they’d invited a few people over and they hoped I wouldn’t mind, the folks invited over were only going to be staying for a bit before they all departed for a concert. I told the stranger that it was okay if they weren’t going to be making noise late into the night.
    What followed was reasonably restrained, through the wall it sounded like a typical cocktail party with between 6 and fifteen people in a one bedroom (I didn’t ask, look or actually go over there to see, just going on the voices audible in my bedroom). And they were going at for a longer than what I’d call “a bit”.
    What were they “going at”, Brahma? you ask.
    I learned the hard way when the smoke started wafting in under my front door. I then heard them all depart because although I still had my door closed, I could hear them talking their way down the hallway and out the door. I then made the mistake of opening my door to see if it was indeed a fire and people were evacuating, if so, the people next door were awfully leisurely about it.
    Sure enough, the entire hallway was filled with enough thick marijuana smoke that I could have caught a contact high. Opening the window wasn’t a solution, I learned next, because of course they had the window on the next door apartment left open and had an electric fan in it, attempting to vent the room that way while they were gone, so some residual smoke was being blown into my apartment.
    I wasn’t going to put up with this, so I sprayed Lysol around my place after closing the window, and left and spent the night at my SO-s place.
    The next day my neighbor across the hall talked it over and she was the one that told me all about AirBnB (because the strangers told her that’s how they got the place next door to me) and their quasi legal business model and how they use Orwellian language to divert attention from the fact that “hosts” are running illegal hotels.
    Needless to say, the “guests” didn’t tell either one of us that the people they were inviting over were going to start a smoke-out. The guy that talked to he in the hallway wasn’t from California, so none of them could have had a Prop. 215 “recommendation”.
    My neighbor across the hall worked for a public sector agency that does random drug tests on employees, unlike me didn’t have another place to spend the night, and had she been called in for a test the next day (yes, it was during the week), she could have conceivably failed and been fired.
    That would have been a great cause of action for a devastating lawsuit against the landlord, who put the unit on AirBnB (to bring in “the extra income”, naturally) and doesn’t even live in S.F., much less the building I was renting in at the time. Granted, that all happening would be a pretty unlikely chain of events, but why should people who chose to live in an area not zoned for tourism have to put up with behavior like that?
    So spare me your lame self-justification motivated by pecuniary interest when you say “It’s not harming neighbors”. Try staying next to a place that’s being actively serially short-term leased for a year and then float an opinion.

  59. 1) airbnb is not cheap. At least my listing isn’t 😉
    2) Hey some prostitutes have used them. Let’s ban beds and condoms. That should take care of the problem.
    3) One BIG attraction to airbnb is precisely the fact that you can live in a neighborhood that has a lack of hotels. Take the Mission. How many hotels? How many are SROs?
    In any case I’ll take 94114’s argument. It’s the Haight. Sell your place and move to Marin 😉

  60. lol wrote:

    My analogy with homeless urinating has to do with behavior that we know is illegal and yet tolerated. Pot smoking, jaywalking and such.

    And yet, your analogy fails because it conveniently leaves out the fact that AirBnB facilitates “behavior that we know is illegal” as a business model and that the AirBnB “hosts” are making money.
    The homeless urinating on the street are not advertising on the internet for people to pay them to urinate on the street. There is no third party website taking a percentage cut of the money they get in exchange for urinating on the street.
    AirBnB “hosts” are operating illegal hotels. It’s a business decision. It’s not just “behavior” that has to be “tolerated”.

  61. The guy who started Silk Road did it all wrong by remaining secretive. Sure, he connected hookers, hit men, and drug dealers with those who wanted to buy their illegal services, but so what? He should have just gotten VC financing, started a very public web site offering the very same services, and then hired a bunch of lawyers to say things like “We are maximizing the sharing economy, and we expect all users of our site to respect all legal requirements,” and “We are now and will continue to meet with the various stakeholders, neighbors, property owners and tenant groups as the city’s codes and zoning laws are updated to reflect the reality of hookers, hit men, and drug dealers.” Would have made a ton more money, and he would not be sitting in jail on a no-bail warrant.

  62. brahma i hear you. i hate marijuana smoke. when it gets into your apt its so hard to get out. usually people who get high have no regard for whats going on around them. marijuana smoke in the hallway is definitely grounds for calling the police.

  63. lol, at 2:35 PM, wrote:

    My reaction to Jill’s complaints has to do with what you have to expect in a city. I hated being awaken once a week at 3AM by the guy working at a Castro bar and very quietly revving up his Hog, but what is he going to do? Change jobs because his Harley bothers me? Park one block down and wake someone else? It’s a city, nothing is guaranteed and I know it.

    I agree that it’s a city and nothing is guaranteed to stay the way one person likes it.
    But again you are trying to divert attention from the real issue that AirBnB “hosts” are operating a business with this specious self-serving analogy.
    The Castro bartender wasn’t charging tourists a fee to see and/or hear him revving up his Hog, and there was no third party website taking a percentage cut of the money he got for providing entertainment to tourists interested in seeing and/or hearing a Hog being revved in exchange for putting them into contact with each other.
    He wasn’t operating a Hog rev-providing service for tourists, while externalizing the impact of his business on other people in the immediate vicinity who didn’t sign up to be awoken once a week at 3AM.
    AirBnB “hosts” are operating illegal hotels. It’s a business decision. It’s not just something residents “have to expect in a city”.

  64. Brahma, of course you are right. My analogy fails when dissected with much minutia. You win!
    About your other point: airbnb helps me monetize my property and everything I do is legal (I tend to listen to advice when it looks informed and logical, such as your posts on the legality of airbnb hosting).
    In short, I am not disagreeing with much of what you say. Just that:
    – we know some of the airbnb business goes against local laws in some cities
    – there’s an effort both from airbnb and local authorities to find a middle ground and define a new set of rules. It’s a new business. Give it some time.
    – in the scale of lawlessness / negative impact on society, from 1 to 10 (10 being mass murderers), airbnb is a solid 1. Homeless urinating, or anyone urinating in public for that matter would be a 3.
    Also pot smoking WILL happen in SF. Don’t want to smell pot next door or fail a drug test? Move to Marin 😉

  65. Brahma, your story makes me want to stick to the corporate relocation business. Most respectful guests each and every time.

  66. In the previous thread, lol wrote:

    Another factor to consider: many airbnb listings are located outside of legacy tourist areas. How many tourist hotels in the Mission? In the Castro? Who in this day of instant area check would want to stay on the 101 on Lombard? On the wharf? Yet this is where many tourists have to stay today.

    Yes, and you know what?
    The reason there are no or few hotels in non-touristy hotel areas is because such areas aren’t zoned for tourist hotel use! So the entire reason for the “many airbnb listings” you mention to exist is to flout the law.
    There’d be no objection if AirBnB were using all their VC funding to get zoning rules in S.F. changed to allow people to operate hotels in neighborhoods where it is currently illegal.
    You seem to be making the case that tourist “wants” should drive land use decisions and on an ad hoc basis to boot, and you’re also conveniently leaving out the impact on the full-time residents “located outside of legacy tourist areas” that have deliberately made a choice to live “located outside of legacy tourist areas” and are possibly paying a premium to do so.
    You’re entitled to believe that, but that’s not the way that the law works and it hasn’t worked that way for a long, long time —if ever— outside the myopic minds of faux libertarians.

  67. Brahma,
    Things evolve. People change and want different things all the time. And a responsible government recognizes that. New technology and people’s new needs and wants WILL lead to the creation of new laws. Women vote now. We need licenses to drive cars. You can’t drive and text. States are scrambling to regulate self-driving cars. Laws are created all the time due to a change in context. What’s illegal one day might not be the next and vice versa.
    Hey, that’s me trying again to give some sensical argument to someone who will end his posts with “myopic minds of faux libertarians”.
    You’re obviously not interested in debate. Life must be easy with Zeroes and Ones everywhere.

  68. You people are killing me. All this blather over property owners and tenants renting out less than 4% of the housing stock in San Francisco to tourist*. All this hand wringing over a few tourist rooms. Geeez.
    *I’m guessing the 2012 numbers are a bit dated so I upped the number of housing units to 385K. (see name link)
    OMG strangers living next door.
    OMG strangers walking on my street.
    OMG strangers everywhere I look.
    I’m are from the government and I’m here to help. Please register your name here____________________ so we can keep track of y’all.
    “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”
    “Entrepreneurs and their small enterprises are responsible for almost all the economic growth in the United States.”
    Ronald Reagan
    Y’all really need to get a grip. If y’all think livi’n in this city of strangers is somehow too much for y’all. Y’all ought to move to the country side and load up on ammo, guns, and gold.

  69. I could care less about AirBnB. However if it is legalized, a couple things should happen.
    1. Only owners should be allowed to AirBnB their units.
    2. If tenants AirBnB their rented units, Rent Control for them goes out the door and landlords fully indemnified if anything goes wrong.
    3. AirBnB allowed only in neighborhoods zoned commercial.
    4. Hosts must be bonded, registered and insured.
    There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it, this stuff MUST be regulated.

  70. brahma i hear you. i hate marijuana smoke. when it gets into your apt its so hard to get out. usually people who get high have no regard for whats going on around them. marijuana smoke in the hallway is definitely grounds for calling the police.

  71. “Also pot smoking WILL happen in SF. Don’t want to smell pot next door or fail a drug test? Move to Marin ;)”
    im pretty sure more people are smoking pot in Marin. I personally dont know anyone over 40 who smokes pot, and in my 20s in SF, only about 1/3 of my friends did. they tended to be my lazier friends and most have moved away as have gotten priced out of buying. Too high too often to build a career. Pot is also illegal so we are not required to deal with it either. its fine if people want to get high, but they need to do it indoors and find a way to ventilate in their own apt. i can talk to my neighbors about pot smoke. its hard to talk to a transient tourist about it.

  72. Brahma I have two full time neighbors that smoke pot on a daily basis in Cow Hollow– and I don’t like it either. Our condos are only 500 square feet and I hate it when someone cooks fish indoors. I mean WTF? We live in SF and have the best seafood restaurants in the world. What am I going to do about it? Call a condo meeting? The point is guests can be just as good or bad as neighbors. I go to my friend’s condo all the time and have wine out on their deck and I am sure her neighbors hate it as well.
    Guests and hosts are verified but it can get better and we should pay taxes on any income to the city of SF. I would much rather see cities all over the globe gain revenue from Airbnb then Marijuana.
    Listings are not cheap either –go to Airbnb and look at the listings. Listings are nicer than hotels. I am going to Sonoma at an Airbnb Listing in the summer that costs $700 a night. I have stayed at Airbnb listings in Paris, Santa Barbara, Malibu, Palm Springs, and Downtown LA. Amazing vacations and experiences a hotel could never give me.
    It’s my condo and I don’t see the difference if I have a full time renter over 30 days, less than 30 days, or my friends and family over anytime with their own key. There will always be people in your building you don’t know.
    Anon, I know people don’t write notes anymore, but a nice curious note goes a long way and better than whining to the government for more regulation.

  73. “It’s my condo and I don’t see the difference if I have a full time renter over 30 days, less than 30 days, or my friends and family over anytime with their own key. There will always be people in your building you don’t know.”
    – If you don’t see the difference then I don’t know what to tell you. This is the kind of pervasive SF attitude that leads to the tolerance of too many quality-of-life crimes. Bums pissing on the street? Happens all the time, what’s a few more extra here or there?
    I may not know every single person in my building, but that doesn’t mean it’s OK to add a bunch more to the mix.

  74. can’t say i’m surprised by the nimbyism and tone in so many comments but the only thing new about airbnb’s business is the use of the internet as the connection and payment vehicle.
    when i first arrived in sf, i stayed in a short term rental i found in the ad section of the bay guardian. I couchsurfed for cash during graduate school rotations and i’ve stayed in bnbs (some unlicensed) and rented private houses and cottages for vacations since the 1980’s.
    my first year at stanford graduate school i rented a room from a guy who inherited his palo alto home from his grandma; he was unemployed but enjoyed filling his place with people from various graduate programs for the conversation and the cash. none of us had leases and the place was a revolving door with a pool and a hottub. it was a boarding house.
    several of my elderly peninsula patients run or live in similar homes today.
    i know a physician in the haight who rents a bedroom in her home to visiting medical students and fellows regularly.
    even in sf there are people who need to find a way to make ends meet…or they just want extra cash. my rental agreement prohibits my tenants from hosting (not worth the liability and part of a strategy to encourage turnover and not get too behind the market due to rent control regulations) but if someone’s lease or HOA doesn’t or if i wanted to exchange or sublet or put someone up in my home for a week or a month (and i was insured and willing to take the risk) i’d hardly be asking my neighbors for permission.
    sensible regulations okay; bans and prohibitions are just more bad policy. new laws and restrictions will have perfectly legal workarounds (they always do) and will just make this city more expensive and more unaffordable to the middle class.
    what are san francisco’s rules on boarding houses in residential neighborhoods? what is the history of these rules? which really deal with health and safety issues and which are a product of past race and class wars?

  75. “It’s my condo and I don’t see the difference if I have a full time renter over 30 days, less than 30 days, or my friends and family over anytime with their own key. There will always be people in your building you don’t know.”
    I’s my condo, and I don’t see the difference if I have a full time renter over 30 days, prostitutes for 30 minutes a shot, addicts for a few hours, drug dealers for a couple days, dynamite storage for a couple weeks. There will always be people in your building you don’t know.

  76. I didn’t know sharing what I have with others is a “quality of life” crime. As I stated above, I don’t need the money – It is inherit to share what you have with others. Now I do understand your point of view that my neighbors might not want to participate in my sharing of my condo – but we can have that discussion when they stop smoking pot or cooking fish in their condo, or breaking the CCRs that don’t get enforced. Did I mention that I have another condo owner neighbor that is a hoarder? Can you help me with that issue? No one can help me with that issue – so having guests with good reviews and that I have vetted completely stay in my condo for two weeks while I am away – pretty much harmless. But don’t take my word for it – book a listing on Airbnb.

  77. I called Chiu’s office today to get clarification on some of the details of his proposal which I posted on another thread.
    Seems to offer some balance between all and nothing, with mandatory registration, insurance, and collecting taxes. At the very least it has placeholders for the major issues we are all discussing.
    I think legislation is a much better way to regulate this than a ballot initiative. It is bound to need some revisions over the next few years.
    I would hope that MissGSF and any other AirBnB employees posting here or reading this will support legislation to regulate AirBnB hosting in SF before we are all stuck with some clumsy initiative result.

  78. Well stated modernedwardian.
    I see a lot comments or concerns about the money making aspect of hosting. I am assuming those comments are geared towards landlords doing Airbnb full time on multiple units and buildings. But what about the renter (myself) trying to make ends meat by “subletting”, a few weekends a month to pay the bills and save some money?
    I did this until recently, when I realized about the legality of it all. I personally met every person who stayed at my 1 br apt. I turned down people that I felt or had feelings might not fit into my neighborhood or would cause trouble. I researched each guest on Airbnb and would read all the reviews. I would never rent to someone who just signed up. I live in a small building (less than 6 units) and am concerned for the safety of the other units. Honestly, the best guests are the business folks here for a conference. They’re never at the apartment and when they leave its almost as clean as when they arrived. Who by the way, routinely are grateful for Airbnb because there are not enough hotel rooms (in safe areas) during conferences.
    But I am torn, I see the points of Jill and others who had to deal with bad hosts (yes it’s the hosts fault, not the guests), but I finally found a way to start catching up and pay off students loans, yet the situations seems to be bleak for the little guy because the sides are so divided and no one wants to compromise.
    Good points made by all. Made me see this issue in a different light.

  79. “I didn’t know sharing what I have with others…”
    Let’s not dissemble. You are not “sharing.” You are providing a service for a fee. Most people would call that running a business, however small it may be.

  80. So after putting a property owner on notice my next step would be small claims court if the AirBnb listing is not pulled. Rally a couple of neighbors and n * $10,000 gets your point across. IANAL, YMMV.

  81. A casual disregard for the facts and the law clothed in heartfelt pr seems to be widely shared among ‘hosts’.
    “But what about the renter (myself) trying to make ends meat by “subletting”, a few weekends a month to pay the bills and save some money?”
    If it is illegal or not allowed under your rental agreement don’t; else register your business, follow the regs, and pay your taxes. Just like every other business should.
    As modernedwardian and others have observed, illegally renting housing in SF isn’t new, though the net makes it more efficient. The main SF laws that outlaw some of the AirBnB hosting are in San Francisco Administrative Code Chapter 41A. It has been the focus of the discussion for over two years. It is hosted online by Public access is free, your tax dollars….
    Various forms of rooming and boarding houses have been around in SF since the early days and were a mainstay for generations. UCB prof Paul Groth’s book ‘Living Downtown’ has a detailed history. It even has floorplans from long gone buildings. It is available free online.;brand=ucpress

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