While Mayor Ed Lee vetoed the short-term rental law approved by San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors last year, publicly arguing that the legislation would have made registration and enforcement of San Francisco’s existing short-term rental regulations “more difficult and less effective, and [risked] driving even more people to illegally rent units,” complaints related to short-term rental activity in San Francisco more than doubled last year.

As we noted at the time of the Mayoral veto, the vast majority of units offered for rent on Airbnb remain unregistered and illegal themselves.

And last year, over 600 complaints related to illegal short-term rentals in San Francisco were filed with the City, as mostly mapped above, up from around 250 in 2015 and a quadrupling from roughly 150 complaints in 2014.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by aerel

    What are the blue dots vs. the green dots?

    • Posted by SocketSite

      Complaints which have already been reviewed by the City (green) versus pending review (blue).

      • Posted by Noodle

        Is there a public site or API for getting this data?

      • Posted by no_ vally

        Curious if anyone here has gone through the process of researching a potential scofflaw in their own neighborhood? I’m curious if there is publicly accessible city database of registered properties against which you could check Airbnb listings (either by specific Airbnb property number, or specific address or even a map?).

        • Posted by Carlson

          The SF Property Information Map includes information on short-term rental registration status. Type in an address, click Planning Apps and it’ll show whether a registration certificate has been issued along with its expiration date.

          There’s a registry of short-term rental registrations. However, it’s only available for public inspection in the Office of Short-Term Rentals, and names and addresses of registrants can be redacted.

  2. Posted by Just My Opinion

    Excellent. Let’s keep complaining until there is a reconciliation between zoning regulations and short term rentals. People are turning their residences into hotels and BnBs which in my view completely undermines existing zoning, violates owner rights, deteriorates property values,etc.

    This will, one day, make its way to the high courts. Until then, we must make our voices heard.

    • Posted by Futurist

      Excellent comments. I agree with all of it.

    • Posted by Martin

      I’ll agree with some things you point out, but I don’t buy that property values have decreased. SF is still unaffordable as ever.

      Perhaps it’ll take more AirBnB rentals to actually drop down housing costs. 🙂

    • Posted by MDG399

      My house, My property. I won’t tell you what to do in yours, and you can do the same for me. Full stop.

      • Posted by Some Guy

        No full stop. You can’t play loud music after 10pm. You can’t make major alterations without a planning and building permit. You can’t have illegal utility connections. You can’t park an RV on your lot for more than a certain length of time. You can’t legally have more than X number of inhabitants (say, family or friends, not renters) continuously occupying the house.

        Selfish pr*ck. Your house is lent to you through the largesse of the government and the social contract implied in good neighborliness and explicit in the legal code. Your choices, where they affect others, may have legal ramifications.

        As others have pointed out the moment you accept MONEY you are in business and subject to a whole nother set of rules and regs additionally.

      • Posted by Sabbie

        Wrong, full stop. It’s called zoning, and it’s been ruled legal time and time again by the SCOTUS.

        Don’t open an amateur gypsy hotel next to my house, and I won’t open a slaughterhouse in my backyard, or cannabis dispensary or strip club in my garage.

      • Posted by AnonAnon

        Great, I’ve been looking for a new place to relocate my smelting / slaughterhouse / fishsauce manufacturing / nightclub / skunk breeding / jackhammer testing facility, is the house next door to you available by any chance?

      • Posted by BTinSF

        In my case, the “house” is a condo. “Your” “guests” have to traverse common hallways, use common facilities (swimming pool, spa etc) and generally cost the rest of us hassles and money. You do not have the right to do that, either by local law or CC&Rs. Full stop.

      • Posted by Futurist

        No! not true at all. Codes, regulations and laws regarding zoning, use, construction are ALL designed to benefit and respect all of us. WE all have to comply, including you.

    • Posted by Pero

      Wait a second, how does the ability to host short-term rentals ‘violate owner’s rights’, while your suggestion of regulating who can stay how long on your own property NOT violate owner’s rights? Please explain your logic. I’m really curious to understand this pint. Thanks.

      • Posted by Hunter Oatman-Stanford

        Homeowner’s rights are actually VERY different than business-owner rights, and when you are charging money for entry to your space, it becomes a business. Full stop.

      • Posted by BTinSF

        How? In a city like San Francisco, much of the property being rented is in multi-family structures meant for a stable, long-term base of residents. Introducing a constant stream of new transient short-term renters reduces the security of the building and all its residents, may increase wear and tear on common areas, may subject all residents to noise and other activities typical of people on vacation but not usually of people at home and generally creates a different, more intrusive building atmosphere that can be very disturbing to the “quiet enjoyment” rights of other residents.

        FYI “quiet enjoyment” is a right to the undisturbed use and enjoyment of real property by a tenant or landowner. Courts read a covenant of quiet enjoyment between the Landlord and Tenant into every rental agreement, or tenancy. Thus a renter, or tenant, has the right to quiet enjoyment of the leased premises regardless of whether the rental agreement contains such a covenant.

    • Posted by SFRealist

      For better or for worse, it’s definitely increasing property values

  3. Posted by Peter

    Just my Opinion: you are the kind of people who gives liberal a bad name and makes people voted for Trump. Hope the Trump administration throws out all those stupid zoning laws/regulation for the short term rental.

    • Posted by Mr Pants

      He can’t because he would have to push though federal law that would prohibit zoning in across the country. There is also a matter of state and city autonomy. The best he can do is threaten and withdraw federal funds to certain programs that some cities might rely on and hope they comply to get back the funding.

      • Posted by Peter

        Let’s all hope that trump do something to the radicals in the city that cannot seem to be able to keep their hands and mouth off other people’s property

    • Posted by Dave

      He can’t really impact local or state zoning. He can however, and just did, issue an executive order requiring expedited environmental reviews for critical infrastructure projects. I suppose that could have an impact on HSR at some point.

    • Posted by Bogie

      I voted for Trump and report illegal AirBnBs all the time.

    • Posted by Just My Opinion

      Peter: Instead of these broad statements, like your boy Mr. Trump makes (I think it’s called Alternate Facts), perhaps you can provide some explanation.

      Here’s what I think: When one buys a property, they understand the rules – for good or bad. So if you buy a house in a neighborhood that is zoned for one and two family houses, you should understand that the houses around you should be one and two family.

      Now ABNB comes along, and you find yourself living next to a bed and breakfast (essentially). Or there are strangers coming and going in the other condo unit in your two unit building. Do you think that is right? If you do, fine, we can agree to disagree, but rather than just make sweeping, insulting statements to a specific poster, perhaps give a little detail.

  4. Posted by sassySFboy

    Excellent…but much easier to do as we did for 8 apts…obtain on-line evidence of rentals and sublets of tenants doing activity–illegally–explicitly restricted per signed lease terms–and submit to owner, who evicts and re-rents for $1000s more per year of rental income. Subrentals and sublets stop, owner is super happy and long term residents are super happy. The end.

    • Posted by Some Guy

      You’re what we refer to in the business as “a real charmer.” But I admit, in your shoes I might’ve done the same.

  5. Posted by Bogie

    What is the status of the new legislation? Isn’t there new legislation we passed that requires AirBnB to work with the city? Is that being enforced?

  6. Posted by chilltime


    Renter rents a pre-1979 1BR apartment in, say, Lower Nob Hill for $2000 in 2010. Renter’s rent is now $2200 thanks to rent control. Renter is now getting married and it’s time to move out. But Renter realizes that once renter moves out, Landlord will put the unit back on the market for around $3200. So Renter looks at putting the place on Airbnb and quick math says that if Renter gets it rented for $100 a night for just 11 nights a month, Renter has covered rent and still has a crash pad the other 20 nights per month. No brainer for renter.

    Landlord now has random Airbnb renters coming in and out of his building. They may or may not cause damage, but they are not the tenant on the lease. Other neighbors notice and complain, but Landlord can’t do anything unless he catches it happening. Landlord also missed out on increasing rent $1000 per month, but let’s face it, no one cares about Landlord.

    But that is 1 less unit that has made it to the open market, thereby artificially suppressing supply thanks to Airbnb. Multiply that by all the units in the City that are being used in this fashion (obviously no one knows the exact number thanks to Airbnb’s refusal to provide any information) and you realize quickly that the rent controlled-housing stock is not becoming available to new renters to the market.

    That said, rents are down all over San Francisco in 2016. This is easily researched and well-noted anecdotally by anyone that knows anyone that looked for an apartment. Rents would be down even more were it not for Airbnb.

    [Editor’s Note: San Francisco Rents Down, Oakland Rents Up.]

  7. Posted by BuildHighAndDense

    And the complaints will keep rolling in. It is really hard to tell people who can live in their house and if money was exchanged for it. Airbnb, et al. tie the internet into the process, limitless fuel on the faux problem.

    Planning needs to focus on building for the type of demand, in this case a range of hotels from SRO-style to luxury. I’ve written all the supervisors many times on this with no reply, yet Lee seems to get it and applies his pen accordingly (as he does most things as of late). I have yet to hear a logical, researched reason, as to why the city can’t use up-zoning of commercial lots for hotels to squash short term rental demand.

  8. Posted by moto mayhem

    airbnb is a despicable enterprise. if they were honest, then they would argue for zoning changes and enforce their own restrictions

  9. Posted by Lori

    Airbnb works for people who are present when they have guests stay with them. For example, those who have a spare bedroom. I have a friend who did this and there were never any issues. In that scenario, it’s just like having a short-term roommate. It’s too bad that some have ruined it for this particular group.

    • Posted by Anti-STR

      Agreed, in it’s original format Air BnB wasn’t a bad concept. However, there was only so much room for growth in that market, so the opened it up to non-owner occupied investor owned properties things got off track. Having unmonitored self-service hotels is about the worst business idea ever! But Air BnB doesn’t care what kind of havoc these cause in communities as long as they get paid!

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