The Halloween shooting that cost five people their lives at an unsanctioned party in an Orinda Airbnb has led the city council to enact a 45-day emergency ban on all un-hosted short-term rentals.
At a packed council meeting Tuesday night, at least 50 residents got up to speak both against and in favor of a ban on short-term rentals, and the council agreed on an emergency measure that they will make final at their meeting on November 19. The measure bans all short-term rentals in which the homeowner isn't present in the home, and the council will consider long-term changes to its two-year-old short-term rental ordinance as well, per the East Bay Times.
Councilwoman Amy Worth reportedly said that the ordinance needed to be rethought, calling for "increasing the ability" for code enforcement by the city.
No arrests have yet been made in the shooting, and we learned on Tuesday that the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office is working with San Francisco police to investigate a possible motive link between last week's shooting and one that occurred in Hayes Valley in 2015.
Airbnb, meanwhile, knows a PR crisis when they see one, and the company has responded with a renewed trust and safety push. CEO Brian Chesky published this open letter to his employees on Wednesday outlining various changes to the company's policies to prevent future "high-risk rentals" and unauthorized parties like the one that led to the shooting.
"Airbnb is a business fueled by trust," Chesky writes. "But recently, events by bad actors on our platform took advantage of that trust, including at a home in Orinda, California. We intend to do everything possible to learn from these incidents when they occur."
Among the changes that Chesky says will be rolling out soon are a new Neighbor Hotline, for neighbors of Airbnb rentals to contact the company about problems 24 hours a day; a new flagging system for high-risk rentals based on various data points like the size of the home, the length of stay, and any history of the guest.
Also, Chesky vows to run a re-review of all 7 million listings on Airbnb, in order to make sure all hosts are 100% verified. This doesn't seem to have anything to do with the Orinda case — no one is saying the host misrepresented their property there — but it likely has to do with another bit of bad PR. As Vice reported last week, a scammer or group of scammers appears to be running a significant grifting operation using Airbnb involving faux listings, last-minute bait-and-switches, and ghosting by hosts with untraceable Google numbers. The reporter concluded that Airbnb's policies tend to favor hosts and make running such a scam pretty easy.
So that's why Airbnb is overhauling its policies on both sides.