CFAH

With the battle over how to regulate short-term rentals and Airbnb activity in San Francisco heating up, the text for the threatened ballot measure to amend the law which legalized the practice in San Francisco has been filed with the City’s Department of Elections.

The preamble for the measure:

At a time when San Francisco faces a severe affordable housing crisis, an increasing number of existing apartments, condominiums and houses, are illegally offered and advertised as short-term rentals on websites such as AirBNB and VRBO. Laws meant to regulate this practice are being ignored. These hotels uses contribute to the disappearance of affordable housing in San Francisco, hurt everyday San Franciscans and transform our neighborhoods for the worse. To date, not a single online travel agency that advertises short-term residential rentals has been required to meet our local laws. This ordinance is intended to stop the proliferation of short-term rentals through online travel agencies [such as AirBNB and VRBO] by requiring the registration prior to listing with a travel agency; the verification of registration by the agencies prior to accepting listings; and allowing citizens to enforce the requirements of this ordinance through a complaint process.

And the full language for the proposed ordinance which would limit short-term rentals to 75 days per unit per calendar year, would create quarterly reporting requirements for hosting platforms, and would require that hosting platforms automatically withdraw any listing which hasn’t been registered with the city or has been rented for 75 days that year:

If approved by voters in November, the proposed ordinance would go into effect on January 1, 2016.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by sassyboyfrisco

    As it should…as it can’t be effectively regulated for accountability/compliance AND multi unit buildings are easy prey for burglars and rapists…yup, pedophiles paradise!

    • Posted by Jackson

      I propose Socketsiters place bets as to the “Restrict AirBnb Ordinance” eventual percentage outcome.
      The winner will be crowned “San Francisco Political Savant for 2015” with all political recognition and accolade.

    • Posted by Amewsed

      If you need a surefire and quick way to empty out the long-term renters, do so by introducing a new perceived/real threat.

  2. Posted by Booger

    How is this supposed to help San Francisco? If it passes, the landlords will just rent the apartments for 75 days and then keep the units off the market for the remainder of the year meaning it helps nobody!

    This is stupid!

    • Posted by Hitman

      I will NEVER rent my units out month-to-month ever again as long as I am alive. Comrades Kim, Campos, Avalos and Mar will have to murder me before my units ever go towards easing the housing crisis….. and my units are beautiful!

      • Posted by Thomas

        I’m with you. Long term tenants in my owner-occupied property have been nothing but trouble. I will never waste another dollar of my hard-earned money on lawyers and buyouts. Long live AirBnB!

        • Posted by SFResident

          @Thomas & Hitman
          Agreed: When the BOS removes/revised rent control my units will be available as regular rentals. Till then – there’ Craigslist and a host of others platforms are available without getting a life long tenant.
          SF housing policies have driven the middle class out, and more restrictive laws against owners mean higher rents w/ the increased risk. The middle class & all the young people should be really angry.

          When the BOS keep changing the rules avery month, no wonder there are less & less owners willing to put their place on the regular market, most people are mom + pop types with just one rental or a handful. THESE UNITS WILL NEVER BE AFFORDABLE! Who are they kidding!

  3. Posted by JR "Bob" Dobbs

    This is very well drafted.

    Makes it fairly straightforward to airbnb for up to 75 days, with transparency to make sure legally required taxes are paid and other legal requirements are met such as proper insurance. If you want to rent for more than that, you can – you simply need to get conditional use authorization to operate as a B&B. Or only rent for 30+ days. And the complaint/enforcement procedures are also sensible.

    I’d change the preamble. The issue to me isn’t the “housing crisis” but rampant disregard for the laws that limit transient rentals and tax evasion. But the preamble is not the law. I’ll vote for this.

    • Posted by Can't Think of Cool Name

      @JR, agreed about the “housing crisis” as a driver for this measure. Others in another Airbnb thread on SS showed that those units make up no more than roughly 2% of the total rentable stock in the city.

      • Posted by JR "Bob" Dobbs

        From a “political consultant” standpoint, I guess the preamble makes sense as that will get more votes.

    • Posted by Hitman

      “simply” – lol, as if the activists will simply allow it

  4. Posted by Long-time San Franciscan

    @Hitman, I am with you. I will never put my rent-controlled unit on the long-term rental market, ever.

  5. Posted by Sam

    Wouldn’t at all surprise me if this passes

  6. Posted by Greg

    Buildings are more valuable empty than rented in SF. Until that market element is normalized, it really doesn’t matter whether this passes or not so far as how it effects housing availability.

    • Posted by Amewsed

      This is correct. People who AirBnB will continue to do so, and those who aren’t, won’t. The point of this ballot measure is to aid the City’s enforcement of the law.

      Brazil has adopted the use of AirBnB for the summer Olympics. AirBnB has branched into Cuba, another interesting development. Time will tell whether AirBnB will have widespread acceptance and success and whether SF is a leader or irrelevant.

    • Posted by san FronziScheme

      Yup. If I need to sell my property right now, all I need is wait a few weeks for the current guest to be gone. With a long term tenant my property value would be lowered by 10 to 20% easily (delivered vacant after a buy-out), or 20 to 50% with the tenant, depending on how much the tenant pays. Then you have to deal with the grief and the entitled tenant who will call you a capitalist pig. Even in France owners have better respect from tenants, and that tells a lot.

      If you have tenants, your property value is diminished by multiple $100,000s.

      Why bother renting out at all and risk being stuck with a subsidized tenant?

      • Posted by Jake

        Wouldn’t these effects on the price have been factored in when you bought just like when you sell?
        I guess you could buy vacant RC places and keep them vacant until they appreciate enough to sell for a profit. There are many other assets to buy and hold for appreciation that are more liquid and have negligible carrying costs.

        • Posted by Amewsed

          A smarter way to hold RC units is price them at market rates when vacant so you reap the benefits of a SF rental market, and then you sell to another investor at the highest price to reap the benefits of the SF seller’s market. Have your cake and eat it too. Keeping units vacant deprives owners of money to fix up the property for eventual resale.

        • Posted by Hitman

          I think some of you here assume you can factor in anything. The Campos’ of this world cannot be factored. Some of us bought way before rent control was instituted. Along the way, the left-wing nutcases have delivered more and more legislation that promised to fix the situation and all along it has only exacerbated the problem. When will the communists factor in nature’s math, supply and demand? Why is the burden on landowners to factor? Tenants should factor in the cost of existing and carrying their own weight in this world. Until SF gets that point, I choose not to play – I play my own game.

        • Posted by san FronziScheme

          If you buy vacant in SF and put it on the rental market, then you’ll lose equity instantly.
          It’s like putting your key in the ignition of a new car. This is completely ridiculous.

  7. Posted by Oh Dear

    I would vote to prevent short term rentals for all non-owner occupied units. I have had enough of hearing my oh so progressive friends crowing about how they are renting out their rent controlled apartments for $200+ per day while they vacation in Europe. In the mean time I am working and paying a mortgage and spend my two weeks vacation at Lake Tahoe…not that that is a bad place to relax.

    • Posted by Amewsed

      Nah, who cares? The bigger issue is why you haven’t surrounded yourself with better friends? Nobody I know needs to AirBnB to strangers. There is a difference between running a successful business and needing/wanting to whore out your belongings whether it is your bed, car, pet, spouse, etc.

      • Posted by san FronziScheme

        Your spouse is part of your belongings? Is there a site for that? I’ll be right back.

  8. Posted by BTinSF

    Transients coming and going at multi-unit condo buildings make a mockery of any form of security or access controll in such buildings as well as cause difficulty with noise and behavior in commom areas. Since I live in such a building I am opposed to such rentals and support anything that minimizes them. I’ll vote for this.

  9. Posted by Mark F.

    Aren’t people renting out their apartments on Airbnb normally breaking their lease? Which is grounds for eviction. I’m not allowed to use my apartment as a hotel.

    • Posted by Amewsed

      Yes, my leases have non-subletting clauses without landlord approval. And it is clear to my tenants no AirBnB is allowed. I have turned down prospective tenants because their existing landlord informed me they were caught illegally AirBnB their unit. SF is a small enough town that landlords do reference checks and are quite candid in their responses. Same with the Human Resources dept. After all, I am either helping their star employee secure housing or I am helping them avoid a potential troublemaking employee.

    • Posted by BTinSF

      Yes and breaking condo rules as well, but they do it because they can often get away with it. So I’m for tighter control and anything that makes it easier for the City to catch them avoiding the hotel tax or the registration requirement. Also, the list of registrants should be open to the public so their landlord and/or condo HOA can catch them.

  10. Posted by iknowsnow

    If you are renting your unit out as a short term rental for a period that in aggregate exceeds two and half MONTHS a year, you are not engaged in the incidental rental of your residential property. You are engaged in the operation of a hotel, even if on a part-time basis. And if you want to operate a hotel, you need to comply with the same set of regulatory, life-safety, licensure, zoning and tax requirements that other hotels do. The entire business model for these frequent AirBnB operators is based on regulatory avoidance.

    Sympathy level: Zero.

    This has nothing to do with rent control. This has everything to do with regulatory avoidance for part-time hotel operators. If the city won’t demonstrate it has the nads, I suspect the voters will.

  11. Posted by Mark F.

    @BTin SF Can’t your condo association legally prohibit this?

    • Posted by iiii

      Yep.

      Just like the city can legally prohibit short-term rentals, and a restriction on short-term rentals is written into the standard residential mortgage.

      Doesn’t matter how many ways it’s prohibited if there’s no effective means of enforcement.

    • Posted by BTinSF

      We do prohibit it for the most part but it’s a large building. The HOA management occasionally peruses the AirBnB listings trying to catch them but with so many units it isn’t easy.

      • Posted by BTinSF

        PS: Nabbed 4 or 5 the other day and sent them a “cease and desist” letter from the HOA lawyer but that doesn’t mean they’ll stop. It can be a process to get them to.

  12. Posted by We're All Doomed

    Fun fact: if a renters’ lease prohibits subleasing, they can’t AirBNB their unit. Period. Done. End of story.

    Our apartment manager has already evicted a tenant who was doing this in violation of the lease, and does NOT want stupid eurotrash tourists in our building, causing trouble and trashing the joint. Good for him.

    • Posted by castroresident

      “eurotrash” is a gratuitous, ignorant comment you can keep to yourself. I see plenty of snotty americans getting trashed on alcohol on a daily basis. this is the country that invented rehab, and where kids go into AA even before reaching legal drinking age. STFU.

      • Posted by primeminister

        Eu·ro·trash
        ˈyərōˌtraSH,ˈyo͝orō-/
        nouninformal
        rich European socialites, especially those living or working in the US.

      • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

        Eurotrash was one of the most brilliant TV series ever. Hosted by Jean Paul Gaultier no less.

  13. Posted by san FronziScheme

    The Whack-a-Mole goes on.

    Ellis… WHACK
    TICs… WHACK
    Condo conversions… WHACK
    Private Buy Outs… WHACK
    Airbnb… WHACK

    .. I think we’re good now…
    Wait
    Prices and rents have DOUBLED!

    TICs are BACK… WHACK
    Condo Conversions are back… WHACK
    VRBO… WHACK
    Ellis Evictions… WHACK
    AirBnb stronger than ever… WHACK

    It never ends.

    Rent control is the original problem. Airbnb is just one way for the market to catch some air. You can whack it but it will pop right up because that’s the way the market works.

  14. Posted by Penelope

    ‘Housing crises’ is fixed by allowing more construction of new units, not by unconstitutional mingling with the legal businesses. Next they will go chasing after every housing ad on Craigs List.
    This is really crazy, but hopefully they will come up with a better solution – such as allowing some construction in SF!

  15. Posted by moto mayhem

    i hope this passes. Im really sick of seeing different people walking in and out next door, especially because i travel for work and my wife is home alone alot

    • Posted by moto mayhem

      i also didn’t buy a home next to motel 6, and don’t think it should be allowed unless in a commerical district zoned for hotels

  16. Posted by SFRealist

    ….aaaaaaaand the sh!tshow begins.

    Get me some popcorn. This will be 100% stupidity

  17. Posted by DHL

    The problem: “The increasingly frail and precarious developed world middle class needs to capture any and all revenue it can to stave off poverty.” Many of the comments here depict a narcissistic culture of focused only on wanting/getting more for oneself, with a complete ignorance of, and disregard for, the other . . . for humanity, community, and life quality for all in one’s neighborhood, city, region. If you can afford more than one unit or home, there’s a missing altruism that true corporeal-life community members do have. Ever consider the value-add for yourself and others when being a great landlord for someone who cannot afford even one unit/home? When is enough enough? Wealth alone doesn’t alleviate the vagaries of (unavoidable) human suffering . . . there is more to life, more that is needed from life, and more that can be given.

    • Posted by Hitman

      People need to be self sufficient. I am happy to help someone out on my own terms. I refuse to be forced into it forever. I am happy to provide someone with a nice place to live for a good price on a temporary basis but when government makes that deal infinite in duration, I have no choice but to refuse to play that game. My family has been screwed to the point where we no longer had control of out own home, so why would I ever do that again? As an owner, I have at least an equal right to live in my place. When government makes that impossible but for a fat payout to someone…. I will not play. If you want to blame somebody for gentrification and unreasonably high rents, look no further than the gang of 4: Comrades Campos, Kim, Avalos and Mar. They have turned all leases into life estates so landlords have no choice but to price them that way. Those of us landlords who are fair and honest are punished for giving out good deals so they no longer exist. Go ahead and point your finger and chastise land owners for your perceived greed and lack of humanity. We have been burned too many times by the dictators of this city. Helping others has to be voluntary. When it becomes dictated by recipients or the legislators, it is no different than slavery.

      On a more basic level, why is it that everyone in SF fears about 2 people making a deal of their own entirely on their own terms? I am fine to lease my 3br, 2ba home to somebody for 1/2 of the market price as long as they leave at the expiration of the time we agree. SF politicians do not allow that and says it must be a life sentence…. so blame them, not me for not allowing US to make out own agreement.

      • Posted by moto mayhem

        because it affacts neighbors. if you lived in a condo, would you want the condo next door to have different people in it every week? The building security is then completely compromised, and you are basically living in a hotel. Im fine with airBnB, as long as its in a location that zoned for commercial

        • Posted by anon

          Yeah, in an ideal world this would be a ‘no harm, no foul’ type situation. If it doesn’t bother anyone who cares if it’s an owner or a renter doing airBnB or whatever else they want. But allowing airBnB by default and making neighbors go through a long bureaucratic process to deal with any nuisances seems unfair to the neighbors and could strain city resources.

          An AirBnB situation could be anything from well heeled professionals wanting to check out a hip SF neighborhood to a never-ending stream of rowdy partying college kids.

          There are some good benefits to these types of services so you’d hope they can work something out. When these types of things start up, the demographic of users and providers probably skews heavily towards the well off, tech savvy and responsible. The more mainstream they get the more mainstream the users/providers though, so you’d expect more problems to pop up as time goes on. So they’ll need to do something to balance the benefits and problems if they want to keep it around.

        • Posted by Hitman

          My comment above was more about rent control because isn’t this what all the AirBNB action is really about? The unreasonableness of SF’s terms for month-to-month tenancies is really the problem in SF. AirBNB is the symptom. If you make all tenancies lifetime tenancies, landlords resort to pricing them at a point where they are not sustainable for life or even 3 or 4 months. Jane Kim now wants to make it more difficult to be a landlord. I will NEVER go month-to-month because I choose not to play that game. It is better to leave your property vacant and hope it burns down.

      • Posted by Folder Pete

        YES! If you want cheap rents again, allow new vacancies to be let at … 50% or market – BUT, there will be no Eviction or Rent Controls. I’d add two units to the supply tomorrow.

  18. Posted by Futurist

    Make it completely illegal. Ban AirBnB from SF.

    • Posted by R

      Cat’s out of the bag now.. no going back..

      • Posted by Futurist

        Then stop immediately any NEW listings from being legal. They’re turning SF in a Motel 6.

        • Posted by Ivoryhouse

          I own my home, if I wish to have houseguests stay outta my way.

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