San Francisco is a step closer to enacting what the Chronicle estimates would be among the most stringent short-term rental regulation systems in the country. They report that the Board of Supervisors’ Government Audit and Oversight Committee unanimously recommended a new proposal which would enforce fines of up to $1,000 per day on Airbnb itself (and any other short term rental platform company) for listing units unregistered with the city according to laws already in place.
"This is not about changing the existing law. It’s simply about making sure that this law that has been in effect, that this law is actually enforced,” Mission Local quotes Supervisor David Campos, a co-sponsor of the legislation. “It’s ultimately about corporate responsibility."
Board of Supervisors President London Breed indicated she would give the proposal her vote when the Board weighs in as a whole on the legislation this coming Tuesday. “I don’t think this legislation is unreasonable,” Breed said according to the Examiner. “We’ve got to have a stronger system in place that goes after people who have entire units off the market for this purpose. That is definitely a huge problem in The City.” With the progressive bloc of the board behind it, that leaves undecideds Katy Tang, Scott Wiener, Mark Farrell, and Malia Cohen.
In April, Airbnb admitted that 20 percent of its San Francisco listings were by hosts posting multiple homes, in direct violation of 2014 law. They vowed to crack down internally, but it seems as if many supervisors would prefer the job be left to the city's Office of Short Term Rentals. Further, Airbnb's interest might not be aligned with compliance: A study from January estimated that Airbnb makes over a fifth of its revenue here in San Francisco on illegally rented units.
“We are disappointed that the board is jamming this through at record speed while not addressing some of the biggest problems with the current registration process,” David Owen, an Airbnb spokesperson, said to the Chronicle. And while some have expressed nervousness about the efficacy and legality of placing liability on a platform rather than its users, Deputy City Attorney Jon Givner told the Ex he was unconcerned. “This ordinance does not regulate the content of any posted information on the website of a hosting platform,” he reportedly said. “Rather, it regulates the business activities of the hosting platforms. It extends the type of information they must collect in order to engage in booking services and doesn’t regulate the content of the website.”
Whether or not Ed Lee will sign the Campos co-sponsored legislation into law is unclear. Lee has been softer on Airbnb than the Board of Supervisors, and spokesperson Christine Falvey tells the Chron that her boss “will consider the legislation when it reaches his desk,” suggesting he would reserve his power to veto it. "It’s important to remember that voters rejected this and other short-term rental restrictions just last year, which the mayor must also consider when weighing this legislation from supervisors,” Falvey added.