The sponsors of the proposed ballot measure to further restrict the short-term rental of any residential unit in San Francisco to a maximum of 75 days a year and prohibit hosting platforms, such as Airbnb, from ever listing a unit which hasn’t been registered with the city or has exceeded the 75-day limit are about to deliver 15,983 signatures in support of the measure to San Francisco’s Department of Elections.

The proposed measure would also require that the City notify neighbors of all units which are registered as potential short-term rentals and prohibit any in-law unit from ever being part of the short-term pool.

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 unit.  Interested parties would also be allowed to sue hosting platforms that unlawfully list a short-term rental (which would be a misdemeanor).

Assuming at least 9,700 of the 15,983 signatures belong to registered San Francisco voters, the initiative will qualify for the November ballot.  And if approved by voters, the proposed ordinance would go into effect on January 1, 2016.

In the meantime, the showdown between two competing pieces of legislation to further regulate ‘airbnb-ing’ in San Francisco is underway, and at the end of the month the City will open a dedicated Office of Short-Term Rental Administration and Enforcement to be staffed by the City Administrator’s Office and the Planning Department.  The operating budget for the new office is around $1 million a year.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by sf

    And the most expensive hotel rooms in the world would get even more expensive.

    • Posted by Futurist

      So what? they are a legitimate business as a hotel and in areas that are ZONED for that type of business.

      • Posted by anon

        So it seems that zoning is the problem then. Why not change the zoning?

        • Posted by Futurist

          Of course you would say that.

          Because zoning should and does reflect the PRIMARY type of use that best fits the residents of that area. Residential is meant to be just that.

          • Posted by woolie

            Zoning was created in San Francisco for racist exclusion of Chinese immigrants.

          • Posted by Jake

            yes, and the supreme court ruled it in violation of the 14th amendment for that reason back in 1886. Any type of law can be misused, and I’m sure almost every kind has been misused, doesn’t mean there aren’t good uses as well. Are you suggesting there is a racist exclusion intended or effected by this proposition?

          • Posted by anon

            I don’t actually care one way or the other on this issue, Futurist. It just seems that if you don’t have any problem with AirBNB other than zoning, the zoning is what needs to change.

          • Posted by moto mayhem

            i agree zoning should change if the residents want it that way, on a neighborhood by neighborhood level. my guess is few neighborhoods will want to be zoned commercial for hotels

          • Posted by Jake

            the new law allowing airbnb style short term hosting changed the zoning for most SF residences. It made a use legal that had been illegal before.

          • Posted by Pawlo

            Jake, a new law made same-sex marriages legal, and it had been illegal before. Live with it!

          • Posted by Jake

            uh, in CA same-sex marriage is legal by a court decision, not by legislation, though I am happy to live with either way to get to a good result, btw. We are currently living with a flawed ‘hosting’ law in SF, which thousands of airbnb listings violate. I’m confident we will eventually get a better law. Not a fan of doing it by proposition, but if the BOS won’t address the more glaring problems, the voters will.

        • Posted by Mark

          Because people do not want the whole city to be hotel-zoned.

  2. Posted by Stater of the Obvious

    The SF nanny state strikes again! Now everyone who lives within 100 feet of my front door needs to know about what I do in my own home, my personal business, and my income and where it comes from. This city is nuts.

  3. Posted by moto mayhem

    i [hate] nanny state laws but this is a good one. unless the area is zoned for a hotel, airbnb should be illegal. if it is in a commercial zone, then it should be fine

    • Posted by Pfffttt

      Agreed–airbnb should be illegal. I don’t want transients/murders/rapists/drug dealers/prostitutes/whatever/whoever to come and go as my temporary next-door neighbor and be unaccounted for.

      • Posted by sassyboyfrisco

        Indeed…ILLEGAL…especially in multi unit buildings–with higher risk where fire escapes connect to windows.

        • Posted by Pfffttt

          Forget fire escapes. In multiunit buildings, only a hallway and/or elevators connect door to door.

        • Posted by Futurist

          Make Airbnb illegal in SF period.

      • Posted by SFcitizen

        Is this a comment about the transient that shot the woman on Pier 14?

        • Posted by moto mayhem

          we can blame newsom, kamala harris and mirakami for that death on pier 14. in fact, they should be prosecuted for endangering public safety

          • Posted by Orland

            NO you can’t! Blame some apparent addle-brained schlub who unfortunately came into possession of a gun and happened to be an “illegal.” So where’s an issue other than why we continue to tolerate a sick prevalence of instruments of death within our society?

          • Posted by Futurist

            No! we can only blame the bully gun lobby: the NRA who continue to terrorize our leaders.

          • Posted by Moto mayhem

            So orland, you support letting a convicted felon, whose already been deported 5 times, walk free away from immigration authorities, only to inflict pain on our citizenry. SF has blood on its hands.

          • Posted by Orland

            I’m just saying the happenstance of the assailant’s identity is not nearly so significant as the issue of the plague of gun violence in American society.

          • Posted by moto mayhem

            in this case, it is. Our local politicians don’t ahve a lot of impact on national gun control laws, but they certainly do on the city policies around not turning over illegal immigrants who commit felonies and have been deported 5 times to immigration officials

          • Posted by Orland

            And what would you have done had he been a redblooded, native-born America? There was no reason to hold him in custody. Addle-brained and in possession of a gun, he would have killed.

            Certainly, it’s a tragedy the lovely young woman died (one has to legitimately wonder to what extent, especially the national press, the media would have glommed onto the story had she been a heavy-set black woman from Hayward). To say she would not have died that way is but a truism.

            By the same token, had the Bayshore Freeway not been built, the scores (if not hundreds) who have died on it, would not have.

            So true. So what?

      • Posted by Toby Snozzwanger

        Newsflash: You already have transients/murderers/rapists/drug dealers/prostitutes/whatever/whoever right on your door step. And you’ll have it as long as the city refuses to do something about the homeless.

      • Posted by san FronziScheme

        Your post makes little sense. Are you telling us that people paying $750 for a 3-day stay are causing a crime wave? You need to get your facts/head checked

        • Posted by Pfffttt

          And how is it you know all airbnb charge $750/3-day stay? Not everyone stays in an airbnb for 3 days. One day is less than a hundred bucks. Get YOUR facts/head checked.

          • Posted by Gur

            You’ll be far pressed to find an “entire place” rental for less than $100 in San Francisco. The few places at that price point are studio rooms with a private entrance in shared, hosted private homes. And the rooms offered below that prices are either shared, hosted units or a bed or bunk in a communal room. The current average for an “entire place” rental is around $225 a night in the entire City.

          • Posted by Pfffttt

            I wasn’t talking about an entire rental of a home/place. I meant a room. I’ve known people who travel and decide to rent out just a room while they are gone.

  4. Posted by pioneer

    I’m guessing Dianne Feinstein and husband Richard C. Blum of CBRE funded the signature gathering.

  5. Posted by Lori

    This is a shame. I know of several people who rented out a spare room while they were still living there for extra cash — they weren’t renting out an empty place with no one around to watch the guests. I’d be curious to know how many of those signatures came from the employees of the big management companies like Trinity. I wouldn’t be surprised if all employees were required to sign it as a condition of their employment.

    • Posted by Futurist

      So do tell us how they survived before they needed “extra cash”. Were they poor and destitute?

      • Posted by Lori

        Oh, come on. Who doesn’t want more cash these days? The person who I know who rented out an extra room used the cash to travel. And no, this person was not poor and destitute. More like smart — increasing cash flow to provide for more vacations.

    • Posted by BTinSF

      The people who live in Trinity’s properties have more reason to want to prevent transients in their buildings than does the management. Trinity itself can hold those who signed leases responsible for damage and bad behavior but people who have to live with it have no recourse.

      • Posted by Lori

        Trinity couldn’t care less about its tenants. All they care about is their bottom line. Remember they are the reason that rent control exists in San Francisco. They hardly follow local laws themselves. They don’t provide the proper management in their buildings and heaven help you if you need something after 5 pm. You’ll be routed to an answering service, not a real Trinity manager. Some long term tenants are so frightened to contact management because they are afraid that they will draw attention to themselves and be targeted for wrongful eviction.

    • Posted by Mark

      ‘Extra cash’ will still be available – this measure won’t completely eliminate Airbnb. It will just stop it from becoming an institution that overtakes more and more of the city.

  6. Posted by lark

    We were going to add an inlaw but this makes that less attractive.

    • Posted by cfb

      So what you’re saying is that you wanted to build a hotel room, in an area that’s not zoned for hotels, rather than rent out an apartment to a city resident.

    • Posted by Mark

      You can’t add an in-law, it’s illegal.

  7. Posted by Kento

    As I read this from my AirBnB unit in Tokyo, so glad I’m not in San Francisco.

    • Posted by Futurist

      Yes, and I’m so glad we are not as dense and crowded as Tokyo.

      • Posted by Some guy

        Give it a couple of years…

      • Posted by Alai

        Fun fact: Tokyo is now a cheap place to live compared to SF!

        • Posted by Mark

          It’s where all the artists are moving now that Oakland is getting pricey.

      • Posted by Toby Snozzwanger

        I’d love for SF to be half as clean, safe and orderly as Tokyo.

        • Posted by anon


        • Posted by moto mayhem

          i agree. was just there, and it is 100x as clean as SF. i also found traffic to move better than SF, guessing because of the world class transportation system. our planners would do much better to study in Tokyo than in Amsterdam. Japanese tourists must be absolutely disgusted by SF.

          • Posted by Kento

            Yes they are. I’m from the bay but moved here to escape the madness and all my Japanse friends who have visited SF coment on how “unclean” it is. So glad to be gone.

          • Posted by Mappy

            Keep Tokyo clean, and moving, and whatever else they do over there. Here in SF I like the seediness, the funkiness, and the wildness of the population and atmosphere. The only interesting part of Tokyo, Shimokitazawa (yes I’ve been to Tokyo), is seemingly always under threat of being demolished. The hipsters of Tokyo are in love with SF, Portland, and Brooklyn, and my SF shirt was the intro point to tons of conversations.

          • Posted by anon

            We’d need to essentially remove all zoning as they’ve done in Tokyo if our planners were to do anything similar.

          • Posted by Dixon Hill

            Cleanliness isn’t everything it’s cracked-up to be. Personally, I like the San Francisco pictured in 1970s Dirty Harry movies.

          • Posted by san FronziScheme

            Dixon Hill, you wouldn’t like the smell

          • Posted by Toby Snozzwanger

            The first time I went to Tokyo I had lived in Scandinavia for 6 years. Compared to that, Tokyo just seemed chaotic and crowded. My second time in Tokyo was after I had lived in SF for 8 years. Now Tokyo suddenly felt like an advanced alien civilization.

        • Posted by BTinSF

          I’d love for Americans to be half as law abiding as Japanese but they aren’t so things like short term rentals in multi-family residential buildings that may work in Tokyo won’t work here.

          • Posted by Toby Snozzwanger

            OK then, if the guiding principle of all legislation is that all people are latent criminals, I have a few other changes I’d like to suggest. Let’s start with the whole “sanctuary city” BS. Next, eviction controls – surely landlords should be able to kick out potential rapists, murderers, drug dealers, etc. On to enforcement of sit-lie ordinances, pot use and possession, stop and frisk, yada-yada-yada.

            Great idea, BTinSF.

        • Posted by Pablito

          Agreed. I never smelled poop once in Tokyo. Never felt unsafe unlike the constant petty crime experience of SF. Tokyo is a wonderful city that SF could learn a lot from.

  8. Posted by BTinSF

    A large condo building is essentially a community of people with a common interest in safety, consideration for each other and taking care of the property. Short term renters have none of these common interests and potentially threaten all of them. They are a disruptive element for the benefit of an individual member of the community. The community should be empowered to prevent them at the very least by having a right to notification. Even better, they should be illegal.

    • Posted by Ivoryhouse

      A broad brush on condo buildings versus ‘hosted’ or SFH rentals is poor public policy. Condo buildings often have by laws to address short term rentals. Why should the City over reach here? Airbnb is a success story which should be celebrated not vilified.

    • Posted by san FronziScheme

      Had Francisco Sanchez been an airbnb host, San Franciscan would have ratted him and he would have been tarred and feathered out of the city.

    • Posted by anon

      Why can’t the individual condo buildings manage this? Banning for everyone seems like a huge unneeded government overreach.

      • Posted by san FronziScheme

        “huge unneeded government overreach” is the BoS’s middle name.

      • Posted by Serge

        Pretty much!

    • Posted by Mark

      Very well put.

  9. Posted by san FronziScheme

    The city is more focused on a total non-issue than other very real and pressing issues like the idiotic and dangerous safe haven rules and lax approach towards homelessness effect over the civilian population.

  10. Posted by Greg

    Curious — this article states, “prohibit any in-law unit from ever being part of the short-term pool”. I read through the entire ballot measure, and other than a definition for ADU where they define what an Accessory Dwelling Unit means, I could not find any mention of in-laws. Someone enlighten me, please.

    • Posted by JR "Bob" Dobbs

      My (very brief) read is that in-laws are defined as an Accessory Dwelling Unit, and then it provides that “any housing that . . . is an Accessory Dwelling Unit . . .may not be listed or rented as a Short-Term Residential Rental” So in-laws could not be airbnb’ed at all.

      I’m not crazy about some of the specifics of this ballot initiative (“Owners” should not be omitted from the list of those with standing to enforce this. Places zoned for residential use only should not be treated the same as those zoned for commercial use. In-laws should not be treated differently from other units.) which is why I generally vote “No” on any ballot initiative. But I’m voting for this one. Homes should not be used as commercial hotels. And, as the initiative provides, if you want to use your home this way, there is a process in place to allow it – get a conditional use authorization to operate as a B & B.

      • Posted by Hitman

        The technology exists and cannot be forced back in the box. In any event, I would not expect a different vote from a pro-tenant “advocate” like you.

        • Posted by JR "Bob" Dobbs

          I assume you put “advocate” in quotation marks to indicate that you are using this phrase ironically? My wife would get a real chuckle out of it if you were calling me a pro-tenant advocate without saying it in jest.

          On the topic of the ballot initiative, I’m giving it about a 90% chance of passing. You? Whether the technology exists to engage in illegal activity has no relevance to whether it should remain illegal.

  11. Posted by Hitman

    There is a very simple solution – rid the city of anyone that would be anti-airbnb. That is my policy. If you are a landlord, never rent to anyone who has received a settlement, filed a rent board petition etc. We own the properties, They just work for us. Please help me to make it harder for them to get along in SF and keep putting this crap on the ballot.

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