The proposed ballot measure which would limit the short-term rental of any residential unit in San Francisco to a maximum of 75 days a year would also prohibit any in-law unit from ever being offered as a short-term rental and would require the City to notify neighbors of all units which are registered as potential short-term rentals.

Units which aren’t registered with the City’s Planning Department would be prohibited from being listed on any hosting platform, such as Airbnb.  It would be a misdemeanor for a platform to list an unregistered unit or a unit which had already been rented for 75 days in that calendar year.

The definition of ‘interested parties’ who would be allowed to sue short-term rental scofflaws would be expanded to include people living within 100 feet of a short-term rental. And interested parties would be allowed to sue hosting platforms that unlawfully list a short-term rental as well.

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

119 thoughts on “Ballot Measure Would Notify Neighbors Of Airbnb Activity”
  1. Is the ban on in-law units a way to keep the riff-raff out of the City’s tonier neighborhoods, where SFHs predominate?

  2. Where can I sign the petition for this? (Just kidding: In front of Safeway of course) But seriously, I’m all for it. If my condo association can find out any units being rented here, we can apply our bylaws appropriately (which ban a lot of such activity).

    1. Hopefully your board has its act together and would stomp on the attempt to airbnb in your condo building in any case. It’s likely to already be prohibited per your governing docs, and implementing a (or beefing up an existing) penalty schedule to enforce them isn’t a major PITA.

  3. Another Airbnb law that the City Attorney’s Office will fail to adequately enforce.

    Oh wait, a misdemeanor, you say? So now the SFDA can join in on doing nothing.

    1. Well, if you can get your attorney fees by suing AirBnB etc. for even a single “unregistered” listing, or 100s of them (with different suits), or sue the City for failure to adequately notice neighbors (imagine 5,000 rental units and maybe 100,000 qualified recipient neighbors!), this ought to keep lawyers in business through the end of the century. I say vote for it!

      1. They’re going to need a 100 more judges in the courtrooms hearing those cases. Why fight the tide that is practically knocking on the door?

        Make a felony because convicted felons can’t vote. They can kill but can’t vote.

  4. this will do it, that’s for sure. you have a pretty reliable enforcement mechanism here with the lawsuits/platform responsibility to de-list. i see this one passing easily.

    1. Nope. Because everyone goes on vacation. Everyone will retire one day. Suddenly airbnb changes the way you approach your disposable time.

      In the old days, you paid $X for the place you left behind and $Y for the place you visited. With airbnb, you can now keep the same housing costs and visit other places, allowing you to do more things, go to better restaurants, allowing you a more fulfilling life, at home and away from home.

        1. I have 3 full-time listings and do long term airbnb stays 8 months a year. I know 2 other people who live the same way.

          1. I think you, plus two other people, qualifies as “very few people.” For the huge majority of people (who also do not own multiple homes), being limited to renting their home out for “only” 75 days a year is not going to cramp their style or cause them to take even a single day less of vacation/travel than they would if they could rent their home out every day of the year.

            We’re all aware of your situation. You should be honest that you are motivated by self-interest and not disingenuously behave as if this is a “people’s issue.” I will still like you fine.

          2. Yes, I’ve been thinking the same thing. Glad you commented. The gloating and mentioning every other comment by fronzi about his “personal interests” and benefits of AirBnB gets to be rather nauseating. It’s the kind of talk that you encounter at a party and quickly say “excuse me, I have to go freshen up”.

          3. We’re currently at 104 comments on this post, 23 of which are Fronzi talking his book.

    1. I will certainly not, even though my airbnb business model doesn’t risk anything with this new overreach.

      Hotels are at capacity and we have 100s of 1000s of extra visitors with great disposable income. A few units are taken out of the rent control vise, but these units would not be rented to rent controlled leeches anyway.

      1. i dont particularly care about the units that this is using up. I care about having motels next to my home. they werent disclosed when i bought my place. I would never have bought a home next to a hotel. I often travel and leave my wife alone and do not like the home next to me having 100 diffrent people living there per year. THose people are not vetted through the same mechanism as a full time tenant, sex offenders are not registered with airbnb, and we are not zoned for commercial use. If my neighbor wants to petition to rezone the neighborhood for use of hotels and is able to achieve that, then I will have no gripe. Otherwise, i dont think its fair to the neighbors. If i were in a building with many units and security (which Im not), i would be absolutely mad because the person in the door next to you has totally bypassed the security mechanism. i dont like the 75 days either but at least this makes sure neighbors are notified and can make officail complaints

        1. We have been considering doing AirBnB for a room in the basement (but haven’t done it). How much would be too much for you? If we rented it out one weekend a month would that be too much? I would not want to stress the neighbors. Thanks.

  5. can airbnb owners complain about their competition airbnb units that are within 100 feet? and vice versa?

    1. Yes, of course. The law of unintended consequences rears its head again, par excellence ala San Francisco!

  6. What if AirBnB divests out of the SF market? It would be interesting to see how many people can actually afford to live in SF without supplementing their income and what effects it would have on the local economy.

    Uber is aggressively recruiting drivers on the streets today (particularly along 19th Avenue, at a gas station)

    1. AirBnB hasn’t been around very long and plenty of people were able to afford the rent before it became popular. It’s not like it’s been an institution for 30+ years or something. The high market rents of the last few years are only affordable to high income tenants that are unlikely to need to airbnb for income anyways.

    2. It will not change much. We are talking about a few 1000s units, and a ton of tenants breaking the rules of their leases.

  7. People would use craigslist, or post on overseas websites – good luck catching them – the City rakes in 14% from airbnb -how about using that to fund social programs

    1. If the listing can be found by potential guests, then it can be found by nosy neighbors and the City.

      1. seriously. you add that incentive with the legal liability – i.e. monetizing enforcement – and you’ll never have a problem like you mention.

  8. YEH, only thing better would be limiting it to ZERO days. Stop turning residences into hotels. It bypasses zoning. To me 75 is still a lot. It is 75% of every weekend! Do you want the apartment or house next door to you turned into a hotel room that often. I don’t.

  9. Why the prohibition on in-laws units? An in-law unit seems like a perfect place for an Airbnb — it’s not a legal unit and is just legally another room in a SFH — so seems to fit with the original spirit of Airbnb (renting out spare room in your home) and isn’t eliminating a unit from the market.

    1. I’m sure it’s because in-laws are rent controlled units and placing them on AirBnB reduces rent control supply. SFH’s with in-law units are the perfect place for AirBnb, but a lot of tenants activists think they should be allowed cheap rent control places in other’s property indefinitely. You’d think in-laws would be where we want to encourage short term rentals….

  10. The City should make a determination about treatment and enforcement of illegal in-law units first. It is illegal Pick a position and stick with it. To add a prohibition against short term rentals (as opposed to long-term) of an illegal in-law is arbitrary. Legalize all existing illegal in-law units first and then have a productive discussion re short-term vs. long-term.

  11. So, since it’s a misdemeanor for the “platform” to list any room or unit that’s been rented out short-term for more than 75 days, if someone rents out a room for 75 days on AirBnB, if they then list it on Craigslist, we can throw Craig Newmark in jail for 6 months for each listing on Craigslist.

    Who’s behind this? All the newspapers who have lost ad revenue to Craigslist?

    1. nice try, but CL isn’t a ‘hosting platform’
      residents of san francisco are behind it and will vote it into law.

          1. speed dial? what century are you in?
            socialism graph, 100k like it like that, ftw.

          2. And this one. And ALL of my neighbors who are fed up with our neighborhoods being turned into cheap, quick turnover motels.

      1. Looks like it was actually voted down. I guess you don’t have your finger on the pulse of the “residents of San Francsico” after all.

  12. I’ll vote for this too. AirBnB takes good rental housing off the market for long term tenants. I also don’t want my neighborhood, or any neighborhood turned into a cheap strip of motels.

    1. “cheap strip of motels”

      Hyperbole much?

      Motel = Motor Hotel
      Cheap = not Expensive

      Maybe a bit of restrain would help your cause.

      1. Not a chance. In my neighborhood, on my block we’ve had to deal with travelers coming home at 3 am, loud as monkeys, throwing trash around, sitting on my steps waiting for uber; ringing the wrong doorbell to find the address, and on and on.

        Not a chance. it should be completely outlawed.

        1. And yet we are putting up with the homeless who do 10 times worse AND pee and defecate on my front yard.

          1. I doubt that bit of hyperbole.
            The AirBnB supporters are just like the criminals at Uber: let’s ignore the laws and create our own.

            I DARE you to challenge us.

            Can’t wait to see AirBnB outlawed.

          2. This measure is not about forbidding airbnb. What the hell are you smoking these days, futurist?

          3. So encouraging to see more SoCal cities such as Santa Monica outlaw AirBnB. The movement is growing to stop this illegal enterprise.

          4. Look again. In Santa Monica you can still do airbnb on a room or part of your place, and you can still do 30+ days.

          5. “a room or part of your place”

            Indeed. I can’t imagine how restrictions on who is living in ones own house could pass the legal test. For a subdivision from the get-go, sure, but imposed later? I don’t see how.

  13. I will absolutely sign (and vote for) this. AirBnB is essentially a criminal enterprise that profits by encouraging people to break the law, ignoring zoning and turning homes into transient hotel rooms. I’m more than happy to see the thousands of units being used as full-time hotel rooms return to residential use.

    1. “criminal”

      Great choice of word. I expect you’ll be as vociferous about the real criminal transients aka SF’s favorite pets: the homeless who are actually causing health and safety issues, not the $250/night tourists.

      1. I call the police on homeless that stay past two days on my stretch of sidewalk. I look forward to doing the same to illegal short term rents in my condo building.

  14. Just stayed in an Airbnb in a much larger and more broke American City. Had a beer with the neighbors and had some local friends over. We all got along…

      1. Hey, I guess I am #2.

        Sigh. You do know what “literally” means, right? Please enlighten us with relevant statistics. The level of hyperbole in here is Nimby grade.

  15. I love seeing $250 a night visitors at the airbnb at my neighbor’s across the street in Noe Valley. These frequent visitors spend money at the local restaurants and merchants. Renting their cottage helps my neighbor feed her kids and pay her taxes. It’s not a problem for me.

    1. And so, what did this neighbor do for finances BEFORE she turned her home in to a transient motel?


      1. “And so, what did this neighbor do for finances BEFORE she turned her home in to a transient motel?” This is why I voted against F. It makes people think the have the right to question the intimate details of their neighbors’ lives. I will answer your question for you, however. Whatever she did is none of your business.

    2. I am curious. The $250 a night visitors, where do they hail from mostly? Occupation? Income level? What do they think about SF? Worst problems? Best highlights? How did they make their decision to stay at AirBnB vs. a hotel @ comparable prices? Any thoughts of moving to SF or buying a second home here? AirBnB should have some feedback survey for all guests and publish those results.

      1. The visitors I observe are mostly professional couples with strollers and toddlers/babes in arms. They need a kitchenette and a place to park the rental SUV and feel safe. Many are relocating here and are trying out different neighborhoods. My block will never be affordable housing. Rental units fetch approx 5K per month and have a waiting list.

      1. It’s pretty obvious that this “neighbor” could not feed her kids or pay her taxes before she started using AirBnB.

        I feel so much better for “her” now.

  16. I would love to purchase a 2 bedroom home and allow somebody to rent the 2nd bedroom on an extremely short term basis. (2 days per week). This will allow me to meet interesting people while living in a nicer home. What is wrong with that?

    Maybe all the people complaining about the cost of housing should figure it out.. You have to EARN it.

  17. Just some perspective from Europe. We are spending this year here, stayed in a number of airbnb places – several in France, one each in Belgium, Spain and Italy. It’s hugely popular here and growing – multiple AirBnb ads are in each metro stop in Paris. Never had a any problems or complaints from either the owners or neighbors. Out of all places we’ve been too it seems to be most regulated in Rome – upon checkin we were asked to pay city tax (3.50/night for each adult occupant) and were asked to write down the names/birthdays/places of residents for each occupant to be submitted to the police – basically looks like in Rome AirBnb units are operating as if they were hotels.

    It is interesting that there is so much negativity about AirBnb in the city where it started while in the rest of the world – at least in Europe – it’s getting more and more popular.

    1. Thank you for giving us the global perspective. The passport identification check-in form is standard everywhere I traveled in Europe (and Asia), whether it is traveling as part of a tour group or individually. Same with a local city tax which varies.

      The reason Europe may be miles (or kilometers) ahead of us is because hostels and bed and breakfast places as opposed to hotels are much more widely used. Also Europeans have generous paid vacation days and travel more often than Americans. Actual world class cities with sizable tourist business know how to position themselves to attract money and keep their residents happy.

    2. You miss the big point. They are paying taxes in Europe. They are not in SF. Plus my understanding of the AirBnBs in Europe is that they don’t have the same HOA rules that a lot of the buildings have in the US (so the neighbors do not have the right to complain as much). On the other hand in Japan, in our AirBnB unit, we were warned to be quiet otherwise the landlord would lose the right to short-term rent.

  18. There are plenty of problems in Paris. You might want to look at ; the Monday 5/25/15 issue talks about the “apartment police.”

  19. Why can’t the city just round up everyone at AirBnb and everyone posting on their site and hang them? Why do neighbors get to sue because someone is renting out their private property? This sounds like a lot of huff and puff with nothing behind it, I’m sure they will set up a massive web of regulations and fail to enforce it.

  20. For the same reason you can’t just open a restaurant, bar or car dealership in your home even though it’s private property. It’s against the law. Don’t like the law? Work to change it.

    1. people have been swapping homes for more than 20 years all over SF, especially since Craigslist started to allow individuals to post stuff.

      Prior to airbnb, you had 2 choices when you went on vacation.

      1 – Leave your place empty, but still pay mortgage, rent and stuff on an empty property, THEN pay for a stay at your destination
      2 – Go for the home-swapping lottery, as easy as skeet shooting…

      Airbnb facilitates home-swapping by using the most common medium of exchange: money.

      Now this concept is being diverted in some areas because of the specific demand, and because it’s a very viable alternative to regular rentals.

      But why try and work on the effect, when we all know what the cause is: rental rules that stopped making sense 20 years ago.

      1. Clever disguise of the real truth: AirBnB is really just a new twist on greed: making more money on my property with complete disregard to existing zoning laws, removing viable properties from the legal and much needed rental market, my neighbors, my neighborhood and quality of life.

        And fronzi seems to be up in full force here protecting his little turf.

    2. What’s “the same reason”? There are certain businesses you can conduct from your house in you precious RH1 district.
      If I have friends and relatives visiting me, is it ok with you?
      If a friend takes me to dinner as way of thanking me for hospitality, is it any of your business?
      If a relative buys my a good bottle of wine or a gadget in lieu of paying for her stay, why would you care?
      If a friend of a friend stays with me and leaves me some money, do I need to ask your permission.
      So if someone stays with me, someone I know way better than any neighbor, and pays me through Airbnb, why is it suddenly your business???

        1. Yes.

          And I’m just waiting for the next clever remake of our neighborhoods: I’m going to open an artisanal and trendy, fast food “café” in my garage; open the door and guess what? A “sharing platform” for visitors to come and enjoy some friendliness, hang out, have some food and drink, and oh yea: PAY ME.

          Hey what’s the problem? Why do I need a license? what’s the health department have to do with it? this is my little “hobby”. Why should I conform to laws and rules of the “bureaucracy”?

          It’s my property and I can do what I want. so there.

          1. Because zoning controls and regulations are for the “common good” of ALL citizens. If not, we would have complete business anarchy of our neighborhoods. In many ways, AirBnB is choosing to be self-entitled and NOT caring about the common good, but only the bottom line for them.

          2. Stop the presses. Futurist is for the common good!

            May I suggest the following:

            Cycling is for the common good!
            Higher density is for the common good!

            Otherwise why would the City be in favor of both?

            Wait, maybe not the common good you support, futurist!

      1. And because they are frequent and transient, and have no vested interest in your neighborhood or your neighbors and because you then are essentially conducting a lodging business. BTW, you know the difference between a friend staying and leaving you a bottle of wine, and posting your unit on ABnB and being paid by a stranger to stay there. Come on.

        1. It is frequent and transient that bothers most people then? What if I had a long-term renter for a rent-controlled unit who is a convicted sex offender? He pays on-time, is handy, and can fix minor things. I like him because he is nice to me. Can’t guarantee how he feels about you.

          1. well then we would at least know who he is because he would be registered on megan’s law website. your aiirbnb transient sex offender is not.

          2. Amewsed,

            Yo are correct that outlandish claims thrown by the frothing-at-the-mouth Nimbys can be applied to all sorts of residency.

            At least airbnb bad eggs are gone very quickly and a lesson can be learned (I decided to stop less than 30 days precisely because of the demographic).

          3. Let’s see what happens when you have squatters who decide to utilize the CA loophole re: a 30 day rental

          4. “and a lesson can be learned (I decided to stop less than 30 days precisely because of the demographic).”

            OK, you learned your lesson.
            But what fraction of AirBnb guests are in the >30 day stay category? The demographic that you chose to avoid is exactly the demographic that neighbors will have to put up with when a more common transient AirBnb situation pops up nearby.

          5. I can’t tell you what’s the fraction because I stopped shorter term stays very quickly. My main issues was that it was too much work and people in that segment are much more random than 30+ days. I have never had any of the horror stories that some will throw in there.

            The longer term guests are people who relocate or simply talent that is there for a few months to share with local companies. Most have an allowance from their employers and the income that comes with it. It’s not the crowd that scraped $600 together for a week-end, but $20K relocation allowance people.

            So far, 1/4 of my guests decided against moving to the BA in great part due to housing costs.

          6. Right, but you’re on here downplaying the concerns of neighbors about the problems of the short term crown, when you yourself positioned yourself to avoid the problems of the short term crowd.
            And 30+ days is allready legal so the short term crowd is really what matters for this discussion.

          7. anon,

            Yes. But at least I have been a host for short term stays and can speak of experience despite the “end is nigh” crowd that speak from their fear.

            I stopped doing it because the longer term is easier money and guests are more financially stable. Why bother with Hoi Poloi when the market brings you the cream of the cream?

        2. I do have a vested interest in my neighborhood. BTW more than any other homeowner.
          If it’s clean, nice looking and safe… guess what? I can justify my price. win-win for everyone

  21. Sign me up to any opposition! AIRBNB = SAFETY RISK to mutli-unit buildings (esp those with connecting fire escapes) lacking security/surveillance. Surprised airbnb related BURGLARY + ASSAULT isn’t yet a common occurrence.

    1. Surprised airbnb related BURGLARY + ASSAULT isn’t yet a common occurrence.

      It might be less of a surprise if you knew how airbnb works! I will pick guests with at least 2 positive reviews, one year on airbnb and a verified ID. Then again my model is monthly rentals.

      Some of the hysteria on this board is absolutely hilarious.

  22. So much of all of this goes away if we build more housing and supply meets demand. Take away rent control, and build to meet demand, and low priced housing appears. All the rent controlled units will be naturally lower priced because the new housing will be of high quality and demand higher prices. Equilibrium in the market creates housing choices and people won’t feel compelled to rent rooms to make ends meet. Yet the BoS bemoans that we need more housing while they consider moratoriums on housing in the Mission, staff the DOB so it takes a year to get a building permit, etc. etc. They legislate based on vote count versus sound policy and research.

    1. Don’t expect BoS revolutionaries to be good at math. In the real world they would make a decent Macchiato for a living like all other deluded luminaries.

      1. I disagree with the BoS on many things. But they are elected officers, and not stupid. “They legislate based on vote count versus sound policy and research” – of course!

        Any supe who voiced a desire to eliminate rent control would have zero chance in the next election. Any supe who voiced a desire for the building spree necessary to really affect prices would have zero chance in the next election. The voters do not want what the “math” suggests is needed. And we live in a democracy.

        1. Actually and technically I believe that US is a Republic not a Democracy 🙂 “and to the Republic for which it stands…”

        2. Well, the majority of voters, not all the voters, and they are even less than the citizen who have a right to vote.

    2. Massachusetts ended rent control 20 years ago. None of what you described happened. The only thing that happened is rent control tenants were all evicted and the rents on those units increased. Units in other market rate properties did not change. Median rents in the cities where rent control existed and then ended (Boston, Brookline & Cambridge) increased after rent control ended. All that happened is one class of people (poorer people) were replaced with another class of people (richer people).

      But given that is a real world example where rent control was ended in real-time, it will be conveniently ignored in favor of let’s pretend.

      1. Well, if the poor want to move downtown (60s-70s) and displace the middle class, then nobody’s stopping them. If the middle class wants to reclaim the city, pitchforks! revolution!

        1. The middle, well, the upper-middle class is already reclaiming SF, unit by unit, house by house. It’s inevitable, of course, given societal trends of not being scared of “those people” anymore and increasing transportation costs, etc. The natural state of a city is rich inside, poor on the outer rings.

          BUT that doesn’t mean we should chuck out tens of thousands of residents and give a windfall profit to building owners. Boston saw astronomical increases in the values of previously restricted properties and hardly any drop or stabilization in the price of previously non-regulated ones. All the stuff about leveling the market is propaganda.

          1. I do not think it’s so much about transportation costs, but how much value you place on time. Commuting eats on your personal time. The Google bus resolves this issue by including commuting into work time.

            And chucking out “tens of thousands of residents”, well, they were chucked in and displaced the locals 40 or 50 years ago. Why would this be a problem? Are we going to protect “some” people? This means we mechanically discriminate against others and this is unacceptable in 2015.

          2. Such bs.

            The google bus clogs my street with their gigantic polluting roving offices, helping out about 1/1000 of 1% of commuters stare at their phone for the morning commute, enabling them more “personal time” to post their latest status or breakfast meal they just downed.

          3. well, the Muni bus clogs MY street, filled with crazed lunatics and kids who bust in through the back door to avoid paying the fare.

            The last time I was on Muni was a late night ride – me the only passenger, until one more boarded, and proceeded to sit in the same double seat I was already in, despite all of the empty seats. He proceeded to lay his leg over mine, and heavily breath his alcohol-soaked breath into my face.

            I think I prefer the Google busses filled with people who are working their jobs on their laptops.

            Futurist, perhaps you prefer people like my Muni seatmate over high-skilled workers. No worries; we’re all allowed our preferences.

          4. I largely agree with you Ecce. My comment was essentially referring to the strange logic of fronzi, who feels the google buses allow for more “personal time” for the tiny tiny entitled percentage who ride them. It’s an elitist way of thinking.

            But, I agree about Muni with you. it’s one of the worst transit systems, for many reasons, in the US.

          5. EcceMoron, do not try to explain Muni to futurist.

            futurist, this might inconvenience you, but your Trabbant is not know for its environmental friendliness

          6. futurist, I do not defend Google Buses. I am simply explaining why they exist and why they are relevant in the context of the conversation.

            The context of the discussion was that wealthier people were coming back into town. My rationale is that people who are in this segment want to waste as little time as possible. They will bid up places in SF. If their jobs are not in SF, they will save time with Google buses.

          7. You complain about the google bus clogging your street? That’s pretty nuts when we have thousands of single-occupancy vehicles everywhere.

          1. Good thing we have a proud owner here. I just mentioned that someone who complains about dirty buses should start with upgrading to modern technology. Trabants have a 2-stroke engine and are even forbidden in most of western Europe now due to the horrible pollution.

  23. Geebuz, you guys are gonna blow an artery.

    I live in a house that backs up to a full-time AirBnB. My kitchen looks out on their deck and into their kitchen, which is occupied by a rotating cast of completely normal human beings. It is 100% no big deal.

    I wish that I could complain — the owner of that house gave me a hassle when I was going in front of Planning for renovations — but I honestly can’t. It just isn’t a problem. Sorry.

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