Opponents of SF's short-term rental ordinance, dubbed the 'Airbnb Law,' that was passed by the Board of Supervisors last October, have succeeded in gathering almost 16,000 signatures to get a proposition on the November ballot, and they handed in those signatures Monday at City Hall. They only need 9,700 of those to be verified as coming from registered voters for the ballot measure to move forward.
Proponents of the measure, including Dale Carlson who co-founded the group dubbed ShareBetter SF, delivered the two boxes of signatures and gave statements to the press. The argument is that too many housing units are being kept off the regular rental market because of lenient short-term rental laws though the jury is still out as to how many whole units are actually being rented full-time on sites like VRBO and Airbnb as ersatz hotel units.
This ballot measure effort comes alongside a similar effort by Supervisor David Campos to revise the existence ordinance to limit short-term rentals of unoccupied units to 60 days a year, down from 90 those who are just renting rooms but still occupy their homes have a limit of 265 days a year. A new six-person city office is opening at the end of the month to deal solely with the administration and enforcement of short-term rental regulations, as Mayor Lee announced last week.
As the Chron reports, about 100 Airbnb supporters and members of the anti-ballot-measure effort who operate under the name San Francisco for Everyone gathered at City Hall Monday to show their unhappiness with the measure, which would also increase the threat of lawsuits from neighbors within 100 feet and require Airbnb hosts to make regular reports to the city on their occupancy. The revisions to the law under the measure would, additionally, hold Airbnb accountable for allowing listings by hosts who are not registered with the city.
The opponents brought in as their sympathetic example of an Airbnb host Rodolfo Cancino and his wife, who rent out a room vacated by their son, and he spoke to KQED and ABC 7 talking about how he's worried that he won't be able to make extra income to cover "dental expenses" if the ballot measure passes. Unlike the existing ordinance, the ballot petition makes no distinction between hosted and un-hosted units, capping both at 75 days per year.
SFist reached out to Airbnb for their response to the ballot measure effort, and they responded with a prepared statement from ShareBetter SF, calling the effort a "Trojan Horse" that hurts middle class families. "The poorly written measure is full of loopholes and language intended to trick voters, including provisions that would outlaw in-law units rentals, create different rules for different communities and make San Francisco the first city in the country to encourage neighbors to spy on their neighbors," they write. "Now, more than ever, we should be focused on making it possible for middle class families to stay in this city and contribute to the community."
It's estimated that somewhere between 350 and 2,000 individual units are being kept off the long-term rental market and rented on a short-term basis year round, but the exact figure is unknown.
This post has been corrected to show that the ballot measure imposes a 75-day cap on short-term rentals regardless of whether it is a whole unit or just a room.