Last updated: 06:41 PM ET, Sun October 25 2015

Will Airbnb Get Restricted in San Francisco?

Hotel & Resort | Michael Isenbek | October 25, 2015

Will Airbnb Get Restricted in San Francisco?

Election Day 2015 is drawing near, and in San Francisco this means a controversial measure will be on the ballot that restricts home-sharing under the auspices of Airbnb and similar companies, the Associated Press reported.

If Proposition F gets the required “Yes” votes and becomes an official ordinance (ironically, in the city Airbnb was founded), short-term rentals will be limited to 75 days a year and it would be mandatory for Airbnb-style hosting companies to remove listings that violate this limit, the AP said.

Additionally, if Prop F passes, the city would have to inform neighbors when a person registers as a home-sharer, and the measure further opens up the possibility of lawsuits against violators and the host-sharing company, according to the AP.

The AP explained that per current San Francisco law, un-hosted rentals are limited to 90 days, but if the host is on the premises, there are no days-per-year restrictions.

Strong opponents and proponents of Prop F have arisen.

Airbnb, which the AP noted is “by far the largest home-share platform in the city and in the world,” has donated $8 million so far and ran numerous TV ads in its quest to defeat the measure. These commercials illustrate the company’s argument that the law would turn neighbor against neighbor and drive out city residents — depicting home-sharers as happy families as well as cartoons of snooping neighbors calling a “snitch hotline,” according to the AP.

Supporters of Prop F see the short-term Airbnb vacationers taking up “scarce” housing, the AP said, making SF more unaffordable and obliterating the uniqueness of the city’s neighborhoods. Proponents also say there is more of a financial benefit for landlords to rent short-term instead of long-term.

Though there are some registration requirements on the books, the AP pointed out, the coalition supporting Prop F said they are “unenforceable,” citing just 700 registered Airbnb users in the city out of an estimated 5,500 site listings.

Quarterly reports about nightly rental numbers would be required by the new ordinance, the AP said, and home-sharing platforms could be fined $1,000 a day for illegal units. Neighbors could collect that same daily amount in damages if they file a lawsuit.

The run-up to Prop F’s vote has even divided Democratic leadership affiliated with the city: U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein is in favor, but Mayor Ed Lee and California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom are opposed. Both Feinstein and Newsom are former mayors.

The AP declares simply, “both sides say they are fighting for the soul of San Francisco.”

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