What the Airbnb settlement means

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

Supervisors appear to be coming to terms with the need to keep people in their homes. Airbnb legislation is being followed by legislation to curtail illegal evictions by beefing up enforcement of the laws already in place. Photo by Zrants

I am going to let Doug Engmann, former chair of the Pacific Stock Exchange and president of the SF Planning Commission, make the point about the city attorney’s settlement today with Airbnb:

It’s a game changer. If other American cities follow San Francisco’s lead and hold Airbnb accountable for facilitating illegal activity, it could have a material impact on the company’s revenue and $30 billion valuation. Venture capitalists, private equity funds and institutional investors should be having second thoughts about an enterprise with a business model that ignores local laws, deprives working families of needed housing, and disrupts the lives of tenants, property owners and neighbors.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera announced yesterday that the tech giant had dropped its ill-conceived suit against the city. The city clearly had the upper hand: Cities can regulate land use; cities get to decide where hotels go and where residential areas go…(more)

Maybe it is the Donald that has removed a lot of the divisive politics from City Hall by reminding us what is important. Lately, the only disagreement is over the housing mix, density and height limits. Event the homeless are getting more sympathy these days. Airbnb settlement is just the tip of the nasty iceberg. Hopefully the Supervisors will continue to work together to solve the next round of nasty problems.


Touring embattled Chinatown with ‘the mayor’ and the supervisor

By David Talbot : sfchronicle – excerpt

Gordon Chin is a cool dude. He likes his smokes and his dive bars (Grasslands is his favorite). He digs jazz, and used to haunt the hungry i and other clubs where the likes of Miles Davis and Nina Simone sanctified the stage. In fact, he’s so cool that he can even get away with wearing Hawaiian shirts — he has a whole closet full of them. He has some explanation about it, something about the Hawaiian concept of ohana, or “family,” that I won’t go into here. Suffice it to say that when Chin retired as executive director of the Chinatown Community Development Center in 2011, dozens of people threw better judgment (or inner shame) aside and slipped into aloha shirts in his honor. Because the coolest thing about Chin is that he made being a Chinatown activist cool.

Like the late, great mover and shaker Rose Pak, Chin was part of the 1960s/’70s generation that announced to the city that Chinatown was no longer going to be its meek, exotic tourist playground. Chin’s style was more low-key than the brash and brawling Pak. But he was no less effective. During his run at the community center, the nonprofit group built over 2,300 affordable housing units in Chinatown, spearheaded the mixed-use rezoning of the neighborhood to ensure that it wouldn’t be swallowed by the encroaching Financial District, and helped secure the future of the community that has been a portal for poor and striving Chinese immigrants since the 1840s.

So it makes sense that Chin will be serving as the honorary marshal of the Chinese New Year Parade on Saturday. As the raucous event looms, I thought I’d check in with the man who some call the mayor of Chinatown and take a walk through the neighborhood with him. Looking for Chin at Portsmouth Square, I bumped into his political comrade, Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who decided to join us for the stroll through his district. Standing in the square, surrounded by romping children and clusters of retirees playing chess and mah-jongg, Chin and Peskin surveyed the terrain before them like generals recalling an old battleground…(more)

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Five ways to fight illegal Airbnb units

By Jennifer Fieber : 48hills – excerpt

Despite the rhetoric coming out from moderates in City Hall or from Airbnb itself, illegal short-term rentals are still a problem for San Francisco residents and enforcement is lackluster.

After Mayor Lee vetoed legislation improvements that passed the Board of Supervisors 7-3, it is clear to us at the Tenants Union that rectifying the problem of abuse is going to be a slow process if we rely on City Hall to fix it. Therefore, we offer five steps for citizens to take matters into their own hands. Together we can make illegal hotels unprofitable so hosts choose a permanent tenant over a tourist…

First though, don’t jump to conclusions. Some hosts are legally registered with the city and allowed to rent out ONE property that they live in themselves. With in-law units, the host must actually live in the in-law and not upstairs. You can check for legitimate registration on the Property Information Map. Look for a STR registration permit on the “Planning App” tab.

If a unit is properly registered but is a party pad nightmare for you, you should contact the platform’s complaint department or the owner themselves if you can. Airbnb’s complaint line is: https://www.airbnb.com/neighbors. We have tried to file complaints in the past and found it a futile, exasperating experience, but maybe it has changed. Good luck!

Also forward these complaints to the Office of Short Term Rentals and us for good measure so we can track them: shorttermrentals@sfgov.org and info@sftu.org…(more)

Here are some other options: (see details)

  1. Starve the Beast Through Direct Action.
  2. Properly Report Illegal Hotels.
  3. Former tenants can sue for Wrongful Eviction.
  4. Neighbors have standing to sue.
  5. Snitch for the common good.

Supes approve 60-day cap on Airbnb rentals

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

The Board of Supervisors has apparently grown tired of short-term rental scofflaws after legalizing the industry two years ago. In a 6-to-2 vote, legislation introduced by Board President London Breed was approved, imposing a cap of 60-days on short term rentals.

Breed, along with supervisors Aaron Peskin, John Avalos, Jane Kim, Eric Mar and David Campos, voted in support of it.

Supervisors Katy Tang and Malia Cohen opposed the law. Supervisor Mark Farrell was excused from the vote since he has business interests related to short-term rentals, and supervisors Scott Wiener and Norman Yee were absent.

It is unclear if when the board votes Nov. 29 on the legislation for a second read how many votes there will be. It would take eight votes to override a mayoral veto and it’s unclear whether Mayor Ed Lee will oppose it… (more)


New short-term rental rules move forward at City Hall

by emily green : sfgate – excerpt

New legislation that would expose short-term rental companies like Airbnb to big fines and misdemeanor charges when hosts fail to follow the city’s registration requirements moved one step closer to becoming law on Thursday.

The Board of SupervisorsGovernment Audit and Oversight Committee unanimously supported the proposal by two of its members. They described the ordinance, by Supervisors David Campos and Aaron Peskin, as a commonsense proposal that ensures existing short-term rental laws are enforced and dismissed concerns that it goes against federal law.

“This is not about changing existing law,” Campos said at the hearing. “It is ultimately about corporate responsibility. About an industry that has made and continues to make tens of millions of dollars in this line of work taking responsibility for the negative impact that they are having on the housing stock.”

The committee — composed of Supervisors Campos, Peskin and Norman Yee — forwarded the ordinance to the full board to consider on Tuesday, where it’s expected to pass. Board president London Breed, who normally sits on the committee but ceded her seat to Campos for this meeting because she had to leave early, also said she supports the legislation.

If the legislation is enacted, San Francisco would have among the most stringent regulations and oversight of short-term rentals in the country. Los Angeles and other cities are considering similar legislation that would require short-term rental companies to police their sites to ensure their hosts are complying with local regulations.

As has become the norm at Board of Supervisors’ hearings involving legislation that would impact Airbnb, dozens of hosts showed up to testify about how it has helped them stay in the city… (more)

The Law That Could Ban the Vast Majority of Airbnb Listings in SF

socketsite – excerpt

With the vast majority of the San Francisco properties listed on Airbnb still not registered with the City as required by law, a new piece of legislation could require Airbnb to remove up to 75 percent of their estimated 9,500 listings in San Francisco or face penalties that could theoretically total over $5 million a day.

As drafted by Supervisor Campos and now co-sponsored by Supervisors Avalos, Mar and Peskin, the proposed Short-Term Residential Rentals and Hosting Platforms ordinance amendment would require that all ‘Hosting Platforms’ (such as Airbnb, Homeaway/VRBO and FlipKey) verify that every unit offered in San Francisco has been registered with the City prior to its listing and would mandate that Platforms respond to demands from the City for information regarding the compliance of any listing within one business day.

In addition, the ordinance would extend the potential civil, administrative, and criminal penalties that exist for individuals that violate the City’s short-term rental laws to Hosting Platforms. As such, a platform could face penalties of up to $1,000 per day for every instance in which it either (1) fails to inform a host of the City’s registration law, (2) fails to collect or pay taxes on a stay, (3) allows an unregistered unit to be listed, or (4) fails to respond to the City’s demand for information to verify a units compliance with the law.

The legislation, which is working its way through the Board of Supervisors Land Use and Transportation Committee, would not apply to sites such as Craigslist which do not act as intermediaries. Any penalties collected would be deposited in the City’s Housing Trust Fund for use by the City’s Small Sites Program.

And if adopted, the amended law would become effective 30 days after enactment… (more)


SF pushing changes to affordable housing requirements, short-term rental rules

By : sfexaminer – exerpt

Ushering in a new era of housing policy, San Francisco has proposed a tougher rule on short-term rentals like Airbnb and will vote today on legislation to increase affordable housing requirements.

Legislation from supervisors Aaron Peskin and Jane Kim would impose new affordable housing requirements on development, should voters in June approve Proposition C, a charter amendment that would allow the Board of Supervisors to adjust the requirements rather than voters, who currently have that power.

With thousands of homes wending their way through the planning process and the future of development at stake, the board is poised to vote on the legislation today after it advanced Monday out of the board’s Land Use and Economic Development committee.

The law would impose a 25 percent affordable housing requirement for new developments with at least 25 homes. The current requirement is 12 percent for projects with at least 10 units.

While last week the committee hammered out controversial details of grandfathering provisions, on Monday Supervisor Scott Wiener outright opposed the legislation, arguing it could mean a “de-facto moratorium,” even though he has endorsed Prop. C…

Every unit counts

As San Francisco is poised to increase its affordable housing requirements, The City may also be ready to add more restrictions on short-term rentals like Airbnb, which have been widely blamed for gobbling up existing housing.

Today, Supervisor David Campos will introduce legislation to require websites like Airbnb to only list short-term rental opportunities with a verified registration number or face fines of up to $1,000 daily … (more)

Airbnb, HomeAway would police rentals under proposed SF law