San Francisco rejects Airbnb restrictions

Referendum to limit rentals to 75 days a year was voted down
November 04, 2015 12:53PM

San Francisco residents chose not to bring down the regulatory hammer on Airbnb and other short-term rental services.

On Tuesday, voters there rejected Proposition F, a ballot measure that would have dropped the limit on the total number of days an apartment can be rented through the service without the owner present, from 90 days down to 75. There’s no such limit if the unit’s owner is present.

The vote was 55 percent against Prop F, 44 percent for.

The measure would also have required “hosts” to show proof that a unit was authorized to be rented short term, as well as required them to file quarterly reports on their rental activity.

Services like HomeAway, VRBO and Flipkey would have also been affected by an affirmative vote, CNN reported.

Airbnb, by far the largest service in the sector, valued at over $25 billion, spent $8 million to defeat the measure. Supporters of the measure only raised around $1 million.

Prop F supporters argued the service allows “hosts” to convert rental units into de facto hotels, straining an already-tight rental market.

The Real Deal attempted to quantify the effects of the same phenomenon on New York last month, using publicly-available data scraped from the company’s website. That analysis found a significant number of units apparently removed from the market, with significant effects on rent in the city’s neighborhoods where Airbnb is most popular.

The mayor of Jersey City, Steven Fulop, offered legislation last month to legalize the service entirely in the city, and tax rentals at a 6 percent rate, equal to the city’s hospitality tax. Airbnb is fighting a number of stern regulatory measures put forth by members of the New York City Council, one of which would increase fines for illegal hosting to as much as $50,000. [CNN]Ariel Stulberg