Less than two months after the controversial Airbnb-legalization ordinance took effect, the city agency that has been dealing with the registration nightmare of the city's many thousands of Airbnb hosts, the Planning Department, has already stepped forward to say the whole thing is untenable, and impossible to enforce as it's currently written. As mustachio'd columnists Matier & Ross breathlessly report, not only does the department not have the resources to deal with the registration process, but there is no realistic method for actually catching Airbnb hosts who are flouting the law.
One basic problem: Airbnb never agreed to release data on the actual people renting their homes on the site, so the Planning Department has nothing to cross-check their registration database with.
Another problem: The law caps hosts' rental days at 90 per year, in order to discourage the loss of rental housing to full-time Airbnb use, but Planning has absolutely no way of tracking that unless Airbnb were to report the hosts themselves.
Supervisor David Campos, whose rival for the Assembly, former Supervisor David Chiu, crafted the ordinance, admits it's "a mess" and the Board will now be tasked with rewriting it. If they don't, it's very possible this issue will end up becoming a ballot measure in this November's election, something Airbnb certainly would not want.
More is likely to come on this, by way of an amendment to the law in the coming weeks or months. Airbnb's spokesperson Nick Papas was quick to denounce all this talk in a statement, saying, "Just months ago, the Planning Commission supported this law. Now bureaucrats are busily throwing up roadblocks, including some that aren’t in the law and others that were rejected by the Board of Supervisors."
Meanwhile, from Day 1 of the mandatory registration period, starting February 1, Airbnb hosts have complained of a cumbersome process dealing with Planning, and lengthy wait times for appointments for their in-person registration. At that time Papas said simply, "We need to give the law a chance to work and make it easier for people to follow the rules, not harder. We’ve communicated with our hosts about the new rules, and now we need to keep working together on some sensible changes to the process."