Airbnb Scores Win With Veto of Rental Cap

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – The mayor of San Francisco has vetoed legislation aimed at imposing one of the strictest limits on vacation rentals in the nation, securing a win for home-sharing firms like Airbnb.

Last month, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors enacted a 60-day cap on all short-term vacation rentals in a 6-2 vote, followed by a 7-3 vote granting final approval on Nov. 29.

The measure was aimed at combating rising rents and making it harder for landlords to keep units vacant and rent them out for more lucrative short-term stays, a practice that has contributed to a housing shortage in one of the nation’s most expensive cities.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee shot down the legislation with a veto on Dec. 8.

Lee’s office did not immediately return requests for comment Monday, but the mayor told the San Francisco Chronicle last week that stricter limits would make enforcement of current rental laws “more difficult and less effective” and encourage more people to “illegally rent units.”

Board of Supervisors President London Breed, who proposed the 60-day cap, told the Chronicle she was disappointed with the veto but encouraged by the mayor’s commitment to work with the board and stakeholders to craft new regulations and “long-term solutions.”

Breed said she plans to develop a working group to make recommendations by the end of February.

Airbnb said it hopes to be part of that process.

“We hope Airbnb, and our host community, will be included in the new working group,” Airbnb public policy manager David Owen said in an emailed statement. “We remain committed to working with city leaders on solutions that protect housing and simplify the process to enable San Franciscans to share their homes.”

The vote to impose a 60-day cap on short-term rentals last month came just after a federal judge shot down Airbnb’s legal challenge to a San Francisco ordinance banning it from collecting fees for rental properties not registered with the city. That ordinance imposes a $1,000 fine per day for each unregistered booking and opens Airbnb and other sites up to misdemeanor charges for disobeying the law.

San Francisco’s current law allows residents to rent out their homes for short-term stays on an unlimited basis if they plan to live in the home during the rental period, but places a 90-day cap on all unhosted rentals.

The proposed 60-day limit on short-term rentals vetoed last week made no distinction between hosted and unhosted rentals.

Airbnb, a San Francisco-based online home-sharing marketplace founded in 2008, saw its value soar to an estimated $30 billion in September after raising $555 million in new capital from investors like Google, according to Forbes.