The 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 or VRBO, from ever listing a unit which hasn’t already been registered with the city, or has exceeded the aforementioned 75-day limit, has qualified for the November ballot.

If adopted by voters, the measure would also require the City to notify neighbors of all units which are registered as potential short-term rentals, prohibit in-law units from being part of the short-term pool and expand the definition of ‘interested parties’ who would be allowed to sue short-term rental scofflaws to include people living within 100 feet of a unit.  Interested parties would also be allowed to sue hosting platforms, not simply the hosts, that violate the terms above.

Regardless, the City of San Francisco, which qualifies as an Interested Party for all units, will open a dedicated Office of Short-Term Rental Administration and Enforcement at the end of the month with an operating budget of around $1 million a year.  And the showdown between two competing pieces of legislation to further regulate ‘airbnb-ing’ in the city continues on.

76 thoughts on “Airbnb Measure Qualifies For November Ballot”
  1. Have there been any polling done on this issue? I hope this fails as its terrible policy, with sfgov’s encouragement no less, turning neighbors on one another. People have got to stop looking at East Germany for intra citizen policy inspiration. Yikes!

    1. Airbnb and Chiu wanted enforcement to be a complaint-driven process. If anyone’s responsible for for turning neighbors against one another, it’s them. Who did they think would file complaints?

  2. This city truly has its priorities ass-backward. We have a huge homeless issue. We have a huge car-breaking problem. We have assaults and burglaries. We have tent villages in at least 4 or 5 sites in the city.

    We don’t have enough hotel rooms. So we spend all of our efforts on making AirBnB hosts’ life harder.

    We don’t have enough housing. So we spend a huge amount of political capital trying to stop construction of new housing.

    I guess the people get the government they deserve.

    1. Sign of an aging city. Older people hate when the world changes around them because they are not part of this change. SF has its share of old NIMBY busybodies and this proposition has them foaming at the mouth.

      1. Talk about sweeping generalizations. I own a single family home in the Marina and am in my 50s and have never been a part of any protest to “Save the Mission” or other bans or restrictions on Airbnb on housing, and neither have my “aging” neighbors, but some of my co-workers in their 20s have. Let’s leave the age thing out of this.

  3. And there’s a severe shortage of hotel rooms too. Where will people visiting SF stay?

    In 2020 the BoS will pass measures to protect ‘historical’ hotel rooms, cap hotel room rates, and a moratorium on hotel construction. The average price of a hotel room in 2020 will be $750/night and nobody will remember how this all happened.

    1. Yeah, hotel room rates are just about the highest in the country. $750/night PLUS $50-$75/night for parking as it’s extra.

  4. I know some people may not like some aspects of AirBnb’s presence in the city, but please let’s try to get some sane legislation and not knee-jerk reactions that demonize one population or another. Look at the AirBnb community, there are lots of people creating a lot of value. Let’s find a way to keep most of that value while respecting people’s rights. Please vote against this draconian, ham-handed bill.

  5. LOL. How does this get monitored? If 75 nights/year is the max, and someone has rented a room for a total of 25 nights on AirBnb, 25 nights on VNBO, and 25 nights on Craigslist, how will ANY of those platforms know that the owner has rented for 75 nights total – including through other platforms?

    Yay – let’s sue Craigslist out of existence!

    1. Good point. Just use different platforms. Good thing sfgov can always expand the new dept it will create to monitor all these activities. A $1 mil budget sounded way to low anyways. Maybe kick it up to $5 mil. Create more useful and efficient jobs too!

    2. If anything this will help spawn competitors. There will be room for 4 to 5 platforms to fill the year.

      Airbnb already allows you to import a competitor’s schedule…

    3. It is actually trivial to gather the bookings for each registered rental property from all the legal hosting platforms (airbnb, etc) and track the sum of the bookings against the max by property. The platforms need access to an SF authority registry of properties legal to rent out. Easy to include info for each property on whether they have reached their max rental days for the time period, could make the info accessible to the hosting platforms but not the public. Plenty of multi-channel reservation/retail systems work like this.

      FWIW, they should also include the booking revenue data from every platform by property for each month to ensure the total for RC units doesn’t exceed their rent.

      Craigslist isn’t a hosting platform, and I think the explosion of opportunities for this recently has depended on the greater features of the platforms.

        1. the triviality of the technical part is only exceeded by the triviality of the political will to do it. SF has a bunch of these could and should but won’t enforce that devolve to “don’t ask, don’t tell” — wink, wink, etc. A close parallel to this one is the renting of private parking spaces, which has been regulated and taxed for a long time, but many private spaces are rented outside the law. Maybe Mel Murphy could lead a commission….

      1. Airbnb should add an option for hosts to pay to only advertise their listing, but not handle the bookings and transactions – similar to VRBO. Airbnb would then have no transaction data for those hosts who don’t want to be tracked, yet could still earn revenue from them.

  6. I plan to vote for this measure and hope it passes. If you plan to use your home for commercial activities, including short term rentals, those activities should be regulated. Despite the echo chamber in the comments, I think most SF residents reasonably don’t want to live next to homes/apartments/condos converted into short term rentals. In our new world, “disruption” = externalizing risks and costs on to the non-participating economy.

    1. VoR is right. Any industry this lucrative should be regulated. The law is already on the books, it’s been on the books since before AirBNB existed – there’s just no way to enforce it because AirBnB does not disclose information. That makes AirBnB an accessory to crime, no two ways about it. Plus I lived in an apartment on Divis, next door neighbor rented out all the time. Super. F*cking. Annoying. And simply not fair given what I had to pay for that place.

      1. echo VOR and LK. i think airBNB should only be allowed in areas that are zoned for hotels. none of us want to live next to a “surprise” hotel

      2. Crime?

        What do you feel about real crime and the leniency of the city towards real criminals?

        Get a grip people.

  7. We all live in the city. So the ‘echo chamber’ you hear from people here is coming from people who are weighing the disruptions you speak of against very real benefits – more economic activity, a more welcoming city for tourists, a more liberal (as in liberty) city.

    A more reasonable middle ground is to let HOAs make up the rules for their apartment buildings.

    But someone who lives 100 feet from someone snitching on who they let into their house? Are you kidding me? Can they come up to my house and make me pee in a cup? This is asinine.

    1. The only people who worry about “snitching” are the people who break the law.

      “more economic activity, a more welcoming city for tourists, a more liberal (as in liberty) city”

      You could say the same thing about illicit massage parlors and commercial grow houses, but I bet you’d be the first to pick up the phone and “snitch” if one popped up next door to you.

    2. “A more reasonable middle ground is to let HOAs make up the rules for their apartment buildings.”

      My condo’s HOA strictly prevents me from renting out a room for less than 3 months. This is the solution for those who are worried about their building becoming a hotel.

      Purely antidotal but one of the owners of the 3 unit victorian next door, rents out his flat on airbnb, and I’ve never had any problems with noise, trash, etc… It seems a lot of these horror stories are hypothetical.

      1. HOA’s aren’t allowed to re-zone their property, so if it’s not zoned for hotel use, it shouldn’t be used as a hotel use.

        1. I don’t consider airBnB “hotel use”, so try again on that one. Hotels have a daily cleaning staff, 24 hour front desk, etc.

          1. You are mistaking what you consider to be reality, with reality.

            You could argue that they should not be a hotel use, but cleaning, desk, etc. aren’t the defining qualities, the temporary short term occupancy is, in my opinion.

          2. moto mayhem, there are laws against noise during the night. How do you come home late at night, and what if someone was telling you you cannot ride your motocycle in your street from 10PM to 8AM? All very legitimate requests yet no one will actually snitch on you or impede on your small infractions. Heck when a guy wakes me up at night because he decided to ride his bike, I always think I should start a petition against motorbikes in SF. But I won’t because you can’t over regulate other people’s lives else they’ll over regulate yours. We all live our lives the best we can and have to live with tiny compromises that makes us feel more free.

          3. Well, I don’t believe there is any law against riding one’s motorcycle at night. If you can point me to something in the code, then I will concede my error.

            I do agree with you that many technical legal violations are left unremedied because, frankly, nobody cares (think littering, keeping your trashcans out too long, blocking a driveway for 2 minutes while you run into a store, etc.). Lots of laws depend primarily on private enforcement. There is nothing “orwellian” or unusual about the enforcement provisions in this initiative other than that they begin with a more informal complaint procedure before going to court – which makes sense to me.

          4. There are always ways to regulate other people’s choices in SF. Some of those can be achieved using existing laws (no noise under my windows!), but creating new means is always possible. Let’s say we start a “no motorbikes in the 94114” proposition. I know a bunch of old farts in that zip code who would sign it right away. These new airbnb propositions come from the same busybody frustrated place: people with too much time, not enough to do, and no real grasp on proportions.

  8. Do they still have ‘1984’ as required reading in school? Meanwhile, this might be useful.

    And yes, generally speaking I think prostitution should be legal, taxed and regulated (reasonably). Likewise, I think it’s fine to regulate AirBnB (8% tax, etc) but the proposed rules are restrictive and Orwellian.

    And, more to the point, AirBnB should be 25th on everyone’s list of priorities for the City, and if it’s not I think you’d do well to reconsider your priorities.

    1. Fortunatly, we can address multiple issues at once; we don’t need to wait for your #1 to start on your #25.

      1. The City gave up on #1 to #5 years ago. Cue the murder of Pier 14 that exposes at least 2 major policy issues where the city just decided to throw the citizen to the wolves.

        1. Hillary Clinton has said on record that she thought Ed Lee and the whole sanctuary city policy in SF is wrong.

          1. who in their right mind doesn’t think its wrong. and i wouldn’t put it on Ed Lee. Its more Gavin Newsom, Kamala Harris and Ross Mirikami. Kamala was an absolute nightmare as a DA. here whole MO was letting as many criminals walk as possible

          2. As long as Ed Lee doesn’t speak up against this rule, he condones it.

  9. This measure is going to pass by such huge margins that the Acolytes of Ayn Rand on Socketsite are going to have a collective aneurysm.

    I need to go stockpile some popcorn.

    1. The key to defeating this measure will be the mobilization of the tech community. Their political participation could also help defeat other boneheaded housing measures like the Mission Moratorium.

    2. Airbnb host here (100% legal 1 month plus stays since I know shorter stays are illegal in SF) I am liberal and capitalist. I am Keynesian and hate everything about Ayn Rand. In what nice tidy box do you place me?

    3. I live in *Oakland* and I’m going to vote for it, haw haw. Seriously, it’s high time for this, the point made above re: externalizing risks to the NON PARTICIPATING economy / residents is the crux of the matter, and it’s why this measure will pass by a comfortable margin. Maybe even a landslide.

  10. Wonder how many airbnbers will ignore this and give the middle finger to sfgov? I sure hope this doesn’t significantly increase the rental pool of available permanent rentals. Gots to keep the pressure on dem rents!

  11. All I know is from my hood, and there are three people that are doing AirBnb who are renters. they are making a mint, and I do not think the landlord has a clue.

    1. Now that, my dear, I am against. Renters should NOT be taking advantage of their rent controlled units to make a profit. How immoral. Landlords OTOH have at it 🙂

    2. and how about the woman in the Mish who rents out not just her own rent controlled apartment, but her DEAD mothers rent controlled apartment!

    3. If this measure passes, you can bring a lawsuit and/or complaint and the landlord will find out.

      So what happens, auto evictions of tenant or do we simply let it be a curable breach until the next 10 times it happens so as to create a pattern of law violation and abuse?

  12. Anyone who airbnbs their unit should have the unit be confiscated and converted into homeless housing.

    1. That’s idiotic and you know it. What do you feel about criminals roaming our city at night unchecked. And illegals? Crickets.

      There are real problems. But keep focusing on the minor ones…

        1. The excesses of reactions to a non-issue are proportional to the non-reaction to other real issues. Why be bothered by something that does not affect your quality of life when you have myriads of actual things that should have us up in arms.

          But keep raging against bikes or airbnb or manahattanization. None of these are actual problems, but they are the PC way the cowards do protest.

      1. What’s wrong with illegals, Donald? 98% of them are just trying to make a living. And besides, who’s going to pick your strawberries, so you’re not paying $10 a basket? Or clean up your yard. It’s a symbiotic relationship.

        And while I’m at it please stop with this end prop 13 nonsense! As I, yer a multi property owner fer gods sake. Prop 13 is sweet. Least we can have as a comp for rent control. G’day!

        1. Btw I can see the Donald’s rip off tower from my place in LV. I think we should either legalize everyone once and for all or simply apply the law of the land. The key is asking the people first what they want. But this in-between wishy-washy sysyem we have is problematic because we have a huge population unchecked with no power and little rights.

          1. Que? U talking about prop 13? That was highly debated in CA back in the day and an overwhelming majority of Californians wanted it. Now they’re trying to weaken it by reducing the super majority needed for an over ride (66%) to 55%. But don’t worry, them good folks at Howard Jarvis are all over this 🙂

  13. I live in an HOA that has a 6 month minimum lease = no Airbnb or vrbo. However, some owners and renters are doing it under the radar. I don’t want to live in a hotel. However, the few airbnbers seem fine and I would look at airbnb places when traveling to cities like NYC. I have a young family and having a kitchen/living room is really helpful to me.
    I am hypocrite on this issue. Aren’t most of us?

  14. Hillary Clinton has come forth against the whole sharing economy as a theft of proper jobs and wages, much to the chagrin of the companies like Uber, Lyft, AirBnB, and others. Not sure what the Republican candidates’ position is. Politics makes strange bedfellows.

    1. Hilary is a product of the 20th century and has no traction whatsoever on the upcoming election.

      1. Que2?? She’s a shoe in IMO. She’ll be better than Obama in presenting herself as a leader on the global stage. Her business orientation tends to be pretty practical, as her Husband’s was. This anti sharing rhetoric sounds like she’s either trying to appease some unions or that she hasn’t thought it through yet. Perhaps when she makes her fundraising rounds to SF and Silicon Valley she’ll flush out her positions on tech.

        1. She is seriously encumbered by her flip-flopping trying to please every one and their dog. One day she’s cool to gay marriage then the other she’s praising it. There are many of these in her past. People at the left do not trust her.

          Warren and Sanders have very little political compromise under their belt and no contradiction. They are not tainted and have a very clear ideological position. But they cannot raise as much cash as Hillary.

          Which brings us to the 2016 Democratic failure of Hillary. She’ll pry her way in as the natural contender using her leverage, but will fail to get the votes because she’s all top-to-bottom and no grassroots support whatsoever.

          1. Sanders is another Howard Dean at best. Clinton is tough as nails and is more moderate, which is fantastic. A real liberal like Sanders could never win the general election.

  15. Root cause: extreme rent control.
    Obvious solution: make rent control fair and reasonable.

    Anything else is reactionary dumbfukcery.

    1. Simple and easy to understand. I can see why Trump is able to tap into a lot of common sense sentiment and anger. I take hearing him talk over Clinton any day.

    2. Fair = means based
      Reasonable = there should not be more than a 1-to-2 range in rents. If market rent is 2000 for a unit, a subsidized unit shouldn’t be less than 1000, and the subsidy should come from the people who vote for the subsidy, aka the taxpayer.

  16. The platforms (and hosts) need to report data. It’s up to the city to track the cumulative number of nights a unit is rented. Spreading the listing over multiple sites doesn’t innoculate violators from fines.

  17. Heck, for a city that will not call immigration once illegals leave the county jail, I think SF has its head screwed wrong. Snitching only on regular people? Really?

    It’s like the ghost of the DDR has been summoned Beetlejuice-style.

    If you are not breaking the law, why do you fear your neighbors looking at what you are doing?

  18. The beauty of this is this whole thing – including all the supporters of the law clamoring for more controls – is that this law will have no effect. Sure, AirBnB and VRBO will be required to register with the city here goes 75 days. But what about the French and German and Japanese and Chinese homegrown versions of these sites? You think they’ll voluntarily go through the hassle of reporting their activities to the City of San Francisco?

    And who’s to say the French people visiting me are not my relatives?

    We’re spending *all* this work, *all* this money to do… what will amount to nothing.

    And meanwhile, on the block of my 1.5M condo on Pot Hill there are daily car break-ins, weekly home invasions. Blocks away are weekly shootings on one side and tent cities on the other.

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