Airbnb Dodges Prop F Short-Term Rental Measure in San Francisco

The private rental marketplace poured its resources into defeating the proposed legislation.

Gustavo da Cunha Pimenta / Flickr Creative Commons

San Francisco has voted down a plan that would have placed new limits on short-term rentals. Proposition F, as proposed, would have levied restrictions on short-term, private housing rentals, limiting such chartering to no more than 75 nights in a year, while forcing renters to match city hospitality codes, pay hotel taxes, and provide revenue reports every three months. Prop F would have also authorized people living within 100 feet of a private home used as a rental to file private action lawsuits in response to rental behavior deemed offensive. The measure was viewed by many as a way to stop the hollowing out or touristic gentrification of more central neighborhoods like the Mission.

Airbnb would have been profoundly affected by the measure, which is why the company actively moved to sway public opinion against the measure by sponsoring the “SF For Everyone, No on Proposition F” organization. Declaring that a Proposition F victory could facilitate government access to private data concerning where people stay and encourage neighbors to spy on one another, SF For Everyone received support from the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, and Gavin Newsom, the lieutenant governor of California. According to Reuters, Airbnb, which is based in San Francisco, spent more than $8 million on the anti-Prop F effort.

Share Better SF,” a group petitioning in favor of the proposition also factored into the Proposition F fray and also garnered high-profile endorsements from U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein and former SF city mayor Art Agnos. Share Better SF wasn’t shy about calling out Airbnb, pointing out that “94% of Airbnb’s 6,000 listings for San Francisco are unregistered and illegal” and that “when it came time to regulate short-term Airbnb rentals, City Hall let [city residents] down.”

In the end, San Franciscans sided against those advocating for stricter adherence to existing laws. Roughly 55 percent of voters said no to the proposition. As of this writing, Airbnb has not made a public comment concerning the election’s conclusion.

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