Airbnb rules head to mayor’s desk

An ordinance passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Tuesday sends a bill creating a regulatory system for short-term rentals in San Francisco to Mayor Ed Lee for consideration.

Following a 7-4 vote this afternoon, Board of Supervisors president David Chiu, who introduced the ordinance, said the legislation aims to fairly address issues surrounding an explosion in short-term rentals bolstered by the creation of online companies such as Airbnb and Vacation Rentals By Owner, also known as VRBO.

Chiu said in a statement:

“This ordinance protects our city’s housing units from being converted to hotels while also allowing short-term rentals on a limited basis to help residents afford to stay in their homes.”

Chiu said the adopted amendments to the ordinance strengthen the legislation by aiding in enforcement, adding protections for tenants and affordable housing, and requiring greater liability insurance and landlord notification.

Supervisors John Avalos, David Campos, Eric Mar and Norman Yee voted against the ordinance.

Among the proposed amendments to the ordinance that were voted down today was one introduced by Supervisor Campos which would have required any alleged back taxes owed by Airbnb to be paid in full prior to the enactment of the ordinance.

Chiu said in response, that he is “confident that Treasurer José Cisneros has the tools he needs to collect all taxes owed to our City” and that there was no need to include such an amendment in the legislation.

Today’s vote was met with applause from supporters of the legislation. Many supporters said that while they do not want strict regulations on homesharing, they do want it to be legal to rent out rooms in their homes.

The ordinance, recommended by the Board’s Land Use and Economic Development Committee, allows permanent residents to lease out their homes on a short-term basis. But the ordinance also stipulates circumstances in which it remains illegal.

With the adoption of the ordinance, a 90-day cap will be placed on short-term rentals per year, not counting those stays where the resident is home during the guests’ visit.

The ordinance also requires hosts to register with The City and disclose the number of days per year they rent their property on a short-term basis.

Any host who is found in violation of the new ordinance will be fined $1,000 per day with that fine increasing for future offenses.

Now that the Board has affirmed its initial vote, the legislation will go to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee for his signature.

Peter Kwan, founder of the Home Sharers of San Francisco, a nonprofit community organization whose members participate in the sharing economy movement, said he is pleased with the passage of the ordinance and expects the mayor to approve it in the next 10 days.

Kwan said that while the ordinance is a step in the right direction, there is trailing legislation that allows interested parties to prosecute offenders, which he said is likely to “pit neighbors against neighbors.”