SF Board to vote on legislation involving short-term rentals, Airbnb

FILE - In this Monday, May 12, 2008 file photo, the "Painted Ladies," a row of historical Victorian homes, underscore the San Francisco skyline in a view from Alamo Square.   Real estate brokerage Redfin analyzed home sales over the past 24 months in 20 major U.S. cities, breaking down the data by neighborhood. Many of the cities reflect home values that have outpaced wages over the past 15 years, causing their neighborhoods to mirror a broader national wealth gap. San Francisco, for example, enjoys the benefits of tech fortunes, but its homes are largely unaffordable for the police officers, firefighters and teachers the city needs. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
FILE - In this Monday, May 12, 2008 file photo, the "Painted Ladies," a row of historical Victorian homes, underscore the San Francisco skyline in a view from Alamo Square. Real estate brokerage Redfin analyzed home sales over the past 24 months in 20 major U.S. cities, breaking down the data by neighborhood. Many of the cities reflect home values that have outpaced wages over the past 15 years, causing their neighborhoods to mirror a broader national wealth gap. San Francisco, for example, enjoys the benefits of tech fortunes, but its homes are largely unaffordable for the police officers, firefighters and teachers the city needs. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) — Legislation that would impose stricter time limits on short-term rentals is headed to the Board of Supervisors for a vote on Tuesday despite recent efforts by Airbnb to take a more conciliatory tone.

The legislation, introduced by Supervisors London Breed and Aaron Peskin in October, would impose a 60-night annual cap on short-term rentals, regardless of whether the host is on-site or not, a sharp reduction from the current 90-night limit for un-hosted rentals and 365-night limit for hosted rentals.

The legislation was approved and forwarded to the full board today after a lengthy committee hearing despite statements from Airbnb this week indicating that, in the wake of federal court ruling against it, the previously combative company might be willing to cooperate more with the city on enforcement of short-term rental rules.

The city has so far struggled to enforce existing regulations requiring hosts to register with the city and limit rentals to only one per host, in part because Airbnb has refused to share data on users or check if hosts are registered before they list or rent out properties.

However Chris Lehane, the company’s head of policy and global affairs, on Sunday published an editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle stating that the company was now willing to help creating a simplified registration process, share data about platform users and help enforce city regulations intended to prevent the abuse of Ellis Act evictions and the loss of housing stock.

“We recognize that the city is hard-pressed to enforce these rules without the cooperation of platforms like ours, and as a result of the platforms unwillingness to cooperate, the rules are more complicated for hosts than necessary,” Lehane said.

Lehane described the company as “ready and willing to lead the industry on working with the city of San Francisco to help enforce sensible rules.”

The apparent change of heart comes after a ruling last week in a federal lawsuit, filed by Airbnb in June, seeking to block previous city legislation that would fine companies that failed to verify hosts were legally registered.

U.S. District Judge James Donato rejected the company’s main arguments against the law and denied a request for a preliminary injunction.

Supervisor David Campos, who introduced the legislation that sparked the lawsuit, today said that if the company was serious about working with the city, “the first thing we expect them to do is drop the lawsuit they have pending against San Francisco.”

“It’s great to hear that Airbnb finally realizes that their business model of refusing to accept common sense regulation is no longer working,” Campos said. “I look forward to working with Airbnb to enforce our short term rental laws in order to make sure that our rental housing stock is protected.”

Airbnb also announced in October that it would only allow site users to post listings at one address starting Nov. 1. The company said at the time that it had already removed 213 entire-unit listings and 525 shared spaces, or “hacker hostels,” from the site since April, while another 180 entire-unit listings were voluntarily removed by hosts.

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