Yes on F

When a multinational corporation spends $8M to defeat a ballot measure in a single city, it's a foregone conclusion that you should vote for it.

There is literally no chance that doing what they want is in your best interest, unless you are on their board.

The Top 9 People and Companies Cashing in on Airbnb's $8 Million Campaign

Airbnb's jawdropping $8 million expenditure to defeat the ballot measure that would strictly regulate short-term rentals in San Francisco has the No on Proposition F campaign on track to become one of the most expensive in San Francisco history. With five weeks to go, Airbnb trails only the American Beverage Association ($9.2 million to defeat the soda tax in 2014) and PG&E ($10.8 million in 2008 to defeat public power).

Airbnb's $8 million far outstrips the $5.6 million that all 14 mayoral candidates combined spent in the 2011 election.

You may have read an astroturf blog post against Prop F; read this instead.

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6 Responses:

  1. John Adams says:

    After much reading of this bill I agree entirely. My original position was that it wasn't the right bill, but it is.

    • I have quibbles with the proposal. Nonetheless it's a totally workable stake in the ground, and it's a huge improvement over the status quo.

      NB: I am a generally satisfied customer of Airbnb as a guest and have considered being (but have not yet been) a host. If F passes, it won't impact my host-or-not decision.

  2. anonnymoose says:

    So, I have a few comments on the material in the Voter's Info Pamphlet, a few questions that -if answered- should help me better understand people's objections to short-term rentals, some commentary on how a lot of the existing Administrative Code seems to address some of the more cogent anti-short-term-rental arguments I've read, and some commentary on the areas where Prop F just seems to be restating things that are already found in the Code.

    Also, I might have screwed up some of my Code section citations below. I was referring to the marked-up version that I link to, which -sometimes- made tracking the section numbers a little challenging.

    0) To be a little cheeky: Feinstein supports F. She even wrote the "Yes on F" blurb in the Voter's Info Pamphlet. Feinstein and her more publicized present-day actions scare me.

    1) To be serious: In Feinstein's blurb, she makes mention that F will require "hosting platforms" to only list properly registered units, but she neglects to mention that F reduces the number of days per year that a "hosted" (that is, resident-occupied-at-and-throughout-the-time-of-rental) rental can be rented from 365.25 to 75 and an "unhosted" (resident-unoccupied) rental from 90 to 75. This omission... bothers me.

    2) In fact, maybe I misunderstand just what a "hosted" rental is, but it sounds like in such a rental, the resident must be present during the rental period. If true, this means that they can check up on the folks that they're renting to, and address any neighbor complaints promptly. (After all, the resident is either currently at home, or will be at home at some point later in the day.)

    3) I can kinda understand support for the further limiting the number of days one may rent an "unhosted" rental, but would someone help me understand how either my understanding of the nature of a "hosted" rental is incorrect, or -if my understanding is correct- how a "hosted" rental is materially different from having a gregarious neighbor who regularly hosts friends and acquaintances at his place?

    4) A "Hosting Platform" appears to be defined in the city administrative code [0] (of which the official online copy appears to -frustratingly- be out-of-date) in such a way as to absolutely cover message boards, mailing lists, blogs, and any other service to pass messages between two or more people. To wit:

    Hosting Platform. A person or entity that provides a means through which an Owner may offer a Residential Unit for Tourist or Transient Use. This service is usually, though not necessarily, provided through an online platform and generally allows an Owner to advertise the Residential Unit through a website provided by the Hosting Platform and provides a means for potential tourist or transient users to arrange Tourist or Transient Use and payment. whether the tourist or transient pays rent directly to the Owner or to the Hosting Platform.

    Given this definition, it seems... fraught with peril to make any and all Hosting Platforms liable for ensuring that a short-term rental that is mentioned hasn't been rented for more than 75 days in a calendar year. The big players will totally be able to deal with this. Joe Random's Burning Man Mailing List, or Jane Tinker's Artisanal Pottery Blog will be a smidge more hard-pressed.

    I totally get that the risk posed to a Hosting Platform for being out-of-compliance is kinda low. 41A.6.b.7 specifies that the Hearing Officer may specify a "reasonable period of time" in which the Hosting Service is required to remove the offending listing, after which penalties may be imposed. But... I just don't understand why AirB&B, Some Guy's Mailing List, or Some Lady's Blog should ever be liable for containing and presenting information about a short-term rental that -as it turns out- has been rented out more than 75 times in a given year. Why isn't it enough for the Resident to be liable for actually performing the illegal short-term rental? After all, if the Resident rents illegally, he risks being unable to rent for the next 365 days!

    5) The assignation of a unique registration number for an apartment that wishes to use their place for short-term-rentals seems completely reasonable. (However, it totally sounds like The City already assigns such a number, and requires its use on short-term-rental advertisements, thus making the additional language in Prop F superfluous. To wit:

    41A.5.g.1.F: The Permanent Resident includes the Department-issued registration number on any Hosting Platform listing or other listing offering the Residential Unit for use as a Short-Term Residential Rental


    6) I really don't buy the argument that F will cause many residents who are in violation of the current mandatory registration regime to come in compliance.

    7) I don't understand how changing the current mandatory reporting interval from annual to quarterly brings significant benefit. It probably doesn't help much with enforcing the 75-rentals-per-year limit.

    8) Everyone is aware that the city currently requires a resident who offers up his place for short-term rentals to either carry a liability insurance policy that covers no less than 500,000 USD, or conduct his rentals through a Hosting Platform which will provide such coverage, right?

    9) 41A.5.g.1.G ensures that if you're able to short-term rent your rent-controlled apartment, you cannot charge more in rent in any given month than you pay in rent to your landlord in any given month. So, rent-controlled folks are not able to make mad bank through short-term rentals.

    10) 41A.5.g.1.H requires that anyone offering a short-term rental must pass city inspections of the premises.

    11) 41A.5.g.2.C appears to require that anyone offering a short-term rental also be a registered business.

    12) 41A.5.g.6 requires the city to provide a person who will answer any questions regarding short-term rentals, as well as either forwarding complaints regarding the same to, or pointing complainants to the appropriate city department. So, it's not as if folks don't currently have a place where they can go to lodge complaints and seek information.

    [0] This appears to be the amendment to the city administrative code that Prop F seeks to amend: The definition that I quoted is on softcopy page 11. Given that the official online copy of the city code doesn't contain any definition of "Hosting Platform", this document might not reflect the state of the official city code, BUT if it doesn't, then that means that the term "Hosting Platform" has no legal definition. I find that... very hard to believe. (Yes, I did read the text of Prop F in the Voter's Info Pamphlet, so I do know that that copy of 41A seems to be the same as the one I linked to above.)

    • anonnymoose says:

      Hmm. Another worrisome thing that Prop F adds is this:

      The following sentence is added to the end of Section 4.B of the "Exception for Short-Term Rental" section of 41A:

      A Hosting Platform shall also submit a quarterly report to the Department setting forth by Registration Number the number of nights each listed Residential Unit is rented for said period.

      and then goes on to add the bolded text [0] to 4.C:

      (C) Any violation of a Hosting Platform’s responsibilities under subsection (g)(5)(A)1, including failure to include the Registration Number in any listing, shall subject the Hosting Platform to the administrative penalties and enforcement provisions of this Chapter, including but not limited to payment of civil penalties of up to $1,000 per day for the period of the failure to comply, with the exception that any violation related to failure to comply with the requirements of the Business and Tax Regulations Code shall be enforced by the Treasurer/Tax Collector under that Code.

      If we remember the rather expansive definition of "Hosting Platform", we come to realize that anyone who runs a service that can be used as a message board [1] would now be required to follow up on messages sent through their service to determine and -occasionally- record the following things:

      * Would a reasonable person be lead to believe that this message was intended to facilitate a short-term rental? If yes, then:

      ** Does this message appear to contain the Resident's city-issued Short Term Rental Number?

      ** Is that number valid, and does it seem like it matches the Resident and the rental on offer?

      ** Has this rental been rented 75 or more times this year? If it has, then we must remove this message immediately.

      ** Did this message result in a short-term rental?

      ** If it did, for how many nights was that rental?

      I do not have a dog in this fight. However, I do reside in the "There should be just enough laws and regulation to keep the bad people honest and/or far, far, away and no more." camp.

      Making a class of people liable for the misdeeds of others is something that should never be done lightly. I'm not sure why the fact that the city can already revoke a short-term renter's short-term renting privilege for a year for his misdeeds is not considered a sufficient deterrent against violation of the city's short-term rental regulations. If the problem is insufficient detection and/or enforcement capability, then we could bolster that capability with some substantially more focused changes to the law than what Prop F proposes.

      Again, maybe I'm missing something obvious, or am suffering from a particular lack of perspective. Clarifying questions or comments are more than welcome!

      An obvious reply to my concerns is "A message board or newspaper is free to not publish anything that looks like an advertisement for a short-term rental.". This is totally true, and a completely reasonable way of dealing with the issue. However, we voters have to determine what is actually gained from Prop F's liability expansion, and whether or not it is worth the additional policing and/or reporting burden.

      [0] Bolded for emphasis, not because it's particular noteworthy.

      [1] Including the classified sections of the local newspapers.

      • Thanks for posting all this analysis. Sorry nobody has answered - I certain can not go any further in detail. With everything you posted, I would oppose, but I'm not an SF resident so my opinion is nonoperative.

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