San Francisco Limits Vacation Rentals to 60 Days

By NICHOLAS IOVINO

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – The San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved stricter limits on short-term rentals, a move likely to impact the bottom line of home-sharing firms like Airbnb.

The ordinance, passed on a 6-2 vote, would restrict short-term rentals to 60 days per year, shaving a third off the previous limit of 90 days.

The decision comes just after Airbnb pledged to work with the city “to help enforce sensible rules” on short-term rentals, an abrupt about-face after the company lost its legal challenge against another San Francisco law restricting home rentals.

Airbnb’s global head of policy and public affairs Chris Lehane wrote in a San Francisco Chronicle opinion piece this past Sunday that the company would share the contact information and addresses of its hosts, along with the number of nights guests book each property, to ensure compliance with the city’s short-term rental laws.

Last week, the company lost its legal challenge of a San Francisco ordinance that bars it and other firms from collecting fees for renting 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.

U.S. District Judge James Donato refused to grant Airbnb’s request for an injunction to block the ordinance, finding San Francisco could hold the company and other firms liable for collecting fees and booking rentals at properties not registered with the city.

The new ordinance limiting rentals to 60 days in San Francisco does not go as far as another law Airbnb challenged in New York last month. The New York law limits short-term housing rentals to 30 days and authorizes fines of up to $7,500 for violators.

San Francisco supervisors London Breed, John Avalos, David Campos, Aaron Peskin, Jane Kim and Eric Mar voted in favor of the new 60-day rental limits on Tuesday. Supervisors Malia Cohen and Katy Tang voted against it.

Supervisors Scott Weiner and Norman Yee were absent, and Supervisor Mark Farrell abstained due to his interest in a company involved in short-term rentals.

Before it comes law, the ordinance must be approved by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, who could veto.

Lee’s office, along with supervisors Breed, Cohen and Tang, did not immediately return phone calls and emails seeking comment Wednesday afternoon.

An email seeking comment from Airbnb was not immediately returned on Wednesday.

Airbnb, a $30 billion company based in San Francisco, has challenged similar restrictions enacted by local governments in California, including Santa Monica and Anaheim.

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