New coalition opposes Chiu's Airbnb legislation UPDATED

SF-based Airbnb is the biggest facilitator of short-term apartment rentals in San Francisco, despite their illegality.

An unlikely coalition has formed to oppose legislation sponsored by Board of Supervisors President David Chiu that would legalize and regulate short-term apartment rentals facilitated by Airbnb and other online companies, which are now illegal in San Francisco.

[UPDATE: Some of those same opponents are also now threatening to place a rival measure on the fall ballot, the San Francisco Chronicle just reported. It reportedly shares some aspects with the Chiu legislation, such as a registration system, but it limits rentals to only commercial areas and includes rewards for those who turn in violators to the authorities].

The coalition includes landlord and tenant activists, as well as organized labor and neighborhood groups. It will square off against Airbnb and its hosts, which have pledged to lobby against limits created by the Chiu legislation -- all of which could elevate this to the biggest fight of the summer at City Hall. Tomorrow [Tues/28], the coalition of opponents will rally outside City Hall at 10am, while Airbnb supporter will hold a "Speak Up for Home Sharing" rally at 12:30pm.

As we’ve been reporting, it took Chiu more than a year of negotiations with Airbnb, the San Francisco Tenants Union, affected city agencies, and other interested parties to arrive at legislation that requires hosts to register with the city, finally pay the city’s transient occupany tax, and limits stays to 90 nights per year.

But after more than two years of Airbnb’s defying city law and refusing to pay its taxes -- scofflaw behavior tacitly supported by Mayor Ed Lee, who share a financial benefactor for the company in venture capitalist Ron Conway -- several city constituencies pledged to oppose legislation that would now legalize its activities.

In particular, some longtime affordable housing and neighborhood activists say the legislation irresponsibly legalizes the conversion of residential apartments into tourist hotels throughout the city, creating neighborhood safety concerns and overturning decades of work to protect rent-controlled housing.

Meanwhile, Chiu’s opponent in the race for the Assembly District 17, David Campos, has been highlighting lobbying reports showing 61 contacts between representatives of Airbnb -- including formers City Hall insiders David Owen and Alex Tourk -- and Chiu’s office.

“Do you think tenant and neighborhood groups met with David Chiu 61 times?” Campos said during his endorsement interview with the Guardian last week, accusing Chiu of letting Airbnb write its own regulations without regard to neighborhood concerns.

Chiu didn’t immediately return our phone calls, but we’ll update this post if and when we hear back. [UPDATE: Chiu legislative aide Judson True just called and disputed how the legislation is being characterized by its opponents and rejecting calls to withdraw the legislation: "Everyone is entitled to a position on Sup. Chiu's legislation, but we would hope they would engage in the legislative process and not just toss hand grenades. This is a serious policy issue that requires thoughtful dialogue and to simply call for the withdrawal of the legislation is irresponsible."

True also said the legislation only legalized short term rentals "under very narrow circumstance and that legalization allows enforcement against the most egregious actors." He also noted how Chiu has consistently opposed converting apartments to tourist uses and called for Airbnb to pay its taxes, calling the legislation a difficult balancing act: "We know that Airbnb has issues with the legislation. They didn't write the legislation, period."]

In the meantime, here’s the full text of the press release issued today by the new coalition, which will be holding a press conference at 10am tomorrow on the steps of City Hall:    

For Immediate Release: 
Monday, April 28, 2014



Board of Supervisors trying to convert residential housing to 
short-term rentals

Press conference Tuesday April 29, 2014 Steps of City Hall at 10:00 am

San Francisco -- Organizations representing usually divergent interests ranging from tenants to landlords, and from hotel workers to the hospitality industry have joined forces with neighborhood and homeowner associations to oppose legislation introduced by Supervisor David Chiu to legalize the short term rentals of residential property throughout San Francisco.

“In the face of an unprecedented housing crisis, Supervisor Chiu’s legislation to legalize the short term rentals of residential property will only exacerbate the housing crisis. This practice is detrimental to our rent-controlled housing stock”, said Janan New, Executive Director of the San Francisco Apartment Association.

“Our studies have shown that with over 10,000 units of housing being rented out over Airbnb, HomeAway and other websites this practice is having a negative impact on hotel workers and San Francisco’s hospitality industry”, said Mike Casey, President of UNITE HERE Local 2.

“The proposed legislation would rezone the entire city from residential zoning to commercial zoning in one fell swoop. We hear complaints from almost every neighborhood about the detrimental effects of short term rentals on the quality of life of tenants and residents”, said John Bardis, former President of the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods and former San Francisco Supervisor.

"Supervisors Chiu's legislation would repeal hard won controls on Single Resident Occupancy housing, threatens current affordable housing provisions for over 30,000 permanently affordable units, would transform newly approved "in-law units" into high priced motel rooms and make "below market rate" units lifetime luxury hotels. It is the single biggest threat to affordable housing ever proposed by a San Francisco Supervisor” stated longtime affordable housing advocate Calvin Welch.

“Airbnb and other hosting platforms owe the City millions of dollars in unpaid hotel taxes. It is high time that the City collect these taxes which pay for the arts and vital city services and programs. The proposed legislation does not clearly hold Airbnb and similar organizations responsible for collecting and remitting the hotel tax”, said former Supervisor Aaron Peskin.

All of these organizations are calling for Supervisor Chiu to withdraw his legislation at a press conference on Tuesday April 29 on the steps of City Hall at 10:00 am.


My 3 month tenant just arrived today: an out-of-town techie on a short term assignment. Perfect!

Posted by Guest on Apr. 28, 2014 @ 4:14 pm

Far better to do short-term lets to visiting academics, corporate lettings or long-term tourist stays.

The beauty of those is that they are perfectly legal and even covered by rent-control, although that doesn't matter because you know these guests are leaving - they have no long-term right to live here!

Posted by Guest on Apr. 28, 2014 @ 11:04 pm

I'm still in the process of deciding my position on this but this article has decidedly tilted me towards the Airbnb camp.

First off, the author seems to be implying that Ed Lee has been negligent on this matter because of his relationship with Ron Conway.

But Airbnb operates in about 35,000 cities worldwide and Ron Conway doesn't know every mayor...could the author perhaps provide examples of mayors who HAVE taken an active role in policing Airbnb?

I'm aware of the New York Attorney General but not a single mayor. But I'm sure that the author can name some.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 28, 2014 @ 5:14 pm

It's not a matter of "opposing Airbnb," it's just a matter of being willing to enforce local laws, which is a requirement of the city's chief executive officer. Most cities don't ban short-term rentals like San Francisco does, because most cities aren't as dense, expensive, or popular with tourists as San Francisco is. But among those that are, this is an issue of growing concern. That's the case in New York City, as well as several cities in Europe that have high housing costs and are popular with tourists, such as Berlin, which last year banned Airbnb rentals:

Also, most cities are just beginning to figure out how they're being impacted by Airbnb, but San Francisco is well-aware of this locally based company, and it was one of the first cities to raise the issue of it not paying hotel taxes, issuing a ruling nearly two years ago that the company has ignored, with the complicity of the Mayor's Office. 

Posted by steven on Apr. 28, 2014 @ 5:26 pm

I was just wondering if you could name a single mayor, anywhere in the world, who has behaved differently than Ed Lee has.

For the record, you could not.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 28, 2014 @ 5:52 pm

A meaningless question which was nonetheless rewarded with an informative response. But you think you scored a point somehow, which is really pathetic.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 29, 2014 @ 7:47 pm

I suspect Janan New is against the legislation since she represents big landlords who want to avoid any possibility that a 14% tax might be applied to short-term corporate rentals, and she wants to prevent any possible future landlord and housing unit registration. But aside from the fact that 90 days of a short-term Airbnb rental seems far too long (15-30 days seems more reasonable), it's still surprising she, Welch and Peskin are on the same side of this issue. If Peskin and Welch forced a payment of back taxes on Airbnb and other short-term rental companies and got a few other tweaks to the legislation would they be satisfied, or do they want to prevent even a modest two weeks of short-term renting using Airbnb? Is the battle over this legislation merely a sideshow of the Campos v Chiu assembly race, or is it more fundamental than that?

My experience is that if John Bardis is for or against something, the opposite position is usually the better course of action. Gadflies are loud and enjoy hearing themselves talk, but it's often only reactionary hyperbole and bravado. Not a good combination.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 28, 2014 @ 8:13 pm

because that gives them the perfect opportunity to evict them for breach of their lease.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 28, 2014 @ 11:06 pm

Except that you can't evict them, you can only give them a warning.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 28, 2014 @ 11:57 pm

And of course it could have been a "faux" warning.

Chui's legislation specifically says that it does not affect the terms of any tenant's lease, and breach of lease is a valid eviction.

There's also an eviction for nuisance which s a 30-day notice with no opportunity to cure. Handy if a neighbor complains about the tenant's "guest".

Posted by Guest on Apr. 29, 2014 @ 2:40 am

I wonder what Chui would do if he signed an agreement with someone and then that person decided to breach the contract in order to make money at his expense. I'm sure he'd just call it a do-over. Chui's worthless and he's lost my vote.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 29, 2014 @ 3:59 am

Ya gotta vote for Chui over Campos for Sac, because we cannot have an assemblyman who is a laughing stock

Posted by Guest on Apr. 29, 2014 @ 4:29 am

His name is four letters long. Not hard to keep them in order.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 29, 2014 @ 7:48 pm

Since I have zero respect for him, I really don't care enough to spell his name correctly. He's a pimply-faced weasel with a ridiculous name who needs to go fuck himself.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 29, 2014 @ 9:07 pm

If ever I saw someone who deserved a wedgie, it's Chiu. What a fucking dweeb.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 29, 2014 @ 9:10 pm

Give him credit.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 29, 2014 @ 10:27 pm

why break the pattern?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 03, 2014 @ 9:52 am

I have heard that landlords are evicting tenants for doing this even once. No warning, just whatever paperwork needs to be sent to the tenant to notify them that they're being evicted, then the landlord files an unlawful detainer and the tenant is out.

There are 15 "just causes" for eviction under San Francisco's rent statute. I do not know which one the landlords are using to evict tenants renting out on airbnb but I believe a few of them allow for summary eviction - no "don't do it again" just "you did it once and you're out."

Posted by Guest on May. 07, 2014 @ 10:13 am

One is breach of rental agreement. That's a no-brainer

But also for nuisance. That's a 3-day eviction with no opportunity to cure.

So a LL can evict a tenant for using AirBnb and then use AirBnb themselves! Loving it.

Posted by Guest on May. 07, 2014 @ 10:34 am

so much drama over such a bullshit issue. is Chiu's legislation great? Nope. But why let the perfect be the enemy of the good? At least he tried to build a consensus. And Campos is just such a raging asshole. Ask Ted Gullikson how much he was involved in crafting this legislation. The implication that Chiu is somehow licking the boots of AirBnB is just laughable. Campos can't be termed out fast enough. Granted, he'll likely just become an out of office loudmouth asshole ala Peskin

Posted by GuestD on Apr. 29, 2014 @ 5:59 am

Campos thinks that we should not work with business. Which is why he is a total FAIL.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 29, 2014 @ 6:40 am

Jason Grant Garza here ... wow, Chui and 61 contacts, two years and STILL NO RESULT?

Why is it that when I went to Mr. Chui's office in regard to denial of healthcare, a false restraining order against me by the Department of Public Health and NO police service seeking his wonderful failing " civil gideon " legislation I was sent to the failing SF Bar Assoc which told me NO lawyer could help. When I went back to Mr,. Chiu and the wonderful Mr. True ( look at the other David Chui videos to see the freigned concern. lack of help and no result) ask yourself did I get the help or accountability? (Answer - Hell NO!)

Too bad I could NOT meet. contact Mr. Chui 61 times or have years to follow up but what the hell ... what does health care, police help, civil decency or HUMANITY have to do with anything? I am sure he can get results for the BIG corporations and spin the "sharing economy" however as you can see health care, accountability and RESULTS for SF sick citizens DOESN'T quite measure up to his apparent concern.

Go to youtube and type in Jason Garza to see over 400 videos and keep DRINKING the Kool-Aid.

Posted by Jason Grant Garza on Apr. 29, 2014 @ 8:15 am

I'm ready to start collecting my rewards! Can't wait

Posted by Guest on Apr. 29, 2014 @ 10:04 pm

Meanwhile, we have two landlords Ellis Acting their buildings and then renting out the units on airbnb.

To my astonishment I found that it is NOT illegal for an landlord to Ellis Act a building and then use it for commercial purposes.

The reason the City Attorney is going after these two landlords is that they skipped a required step - going to the Planning Department for a conditional use waiver/permit.

Which? No way in hell in this tight housing market they would get a permit to take rental housing off the market and turn it into tourist housing (ie hotels).

Posted by Guest on May. 07, 2014 @ 10:15 am

Rentals under 30 days do not fall under rent control

Posted by Guest on May. 07, 2014 @ 10:35 am

The fact is that Chiu's legislation only allows for a renter to rent out his/her apartment for 90 days a year. They have to live in it the other 275 days. It's not like people are renting 10 apartments with the intention of turning them into airbnb profit centers. These are rent-controlled tenants who aren't moving any time soon whether or not they get to make a little $$$ on their apartments.

I don't see this affecting landlords - or the availability of rental housing - at all.

Besides, Imma bet that the SF Apartment Association (which sells its standard lease to its members to use) ...has already included language that new tenants have to sign prohibiting airbnb rentals.

Posted by Guest on May. 07, 2014 @ 10:18 am
Posted by Guest on May. 07, 2014 @ 10:35 am

What if my tenants rent just one room at airbnb making more profit per month than they pay rent for the entire house?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 26, 2014 @ 10:49 pm

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