SF Wants to Strengthen Airbnb Law

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – San Francisco’s “Airbnb law” has been in effect for just two months, but lawmakers are already seeing problems and proposing amendments.
     “Unless we are able to enforce the laws we pass, the laws become meaningless,” Supervisor David Campos at a March 24Board of Supervisors meeting. “That is exactly what happened to the Airbnb law.”
     The Airbnb law, passed in October 2014 and made effective in February, regulates short-term rentals in the city, which used to be illegal.
     But San Francisco’s Planning Department has said enforcing the law is a challenge. There are potentially thousands of short-term rentals in the marketplace and only a few city staff to oversee them. And the law has “loopholes” that could allow for abuse, an official said.
     Campos called the law a “paper tiger” – it “has no teeth.”
     At the Board of Supervisors meeting, Campos proposed new legislation that would address some of the Planning Department’s concerns.
     It would cap the number of days a host can rent a residence, require hosting platforms such as Airbnb to provide information to the city about its rentals, and slap a fine of up to $1,000 per day on platforms that list unregistered residences.
     As the law stands, San Francisco residents can rent their properties for an unlimited time if the host is present, but only for 90 days if the host is gone.
     The proposed law would cap rentals at 90 days per year, whether the host is there or not.
     The Planning Department says this would help ensure that homes are not rented year-round, diminishing the city’s highly sought housing stock.
     The law would require platforms to provide monthly information to the Planning Department on how many nights units are occupied as rentals. And it would give neighbors affected by illegal rentals the power to take legal action and ban rentals in neighborhoods that do not allow commercial use.
     Airbnb did not immediately return an email from Courthouse News, but told The San Francisco Chronicle: “Elected officials spent three years debating all aspects of this issue before passing comprehensive legislation, but some folks still don’t think you should be able to occasionally share the home in which you live.”
     The Airbnb law has been highly contentious, and was the subject of a lawsuit by a competitor soon after it passed.
     Contact Arvin Temkar at sanfran@courthousenews.com

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