While Supervisor Chiu moves forward with a proposed amendment to regulate short-term rentals in San Francisco, a more onerous ballot measure designed to greatly limit the “illegal use of housing for tourist accommodations” in San Francisco has been filed with the Department of Elections.
The preamble to the proposed measure which would establish the Neighborhood Preservation and Public Revenue Recovery Ordinance:
At a time when San Francisco faces its most severe housing shortage in more than 100 years, an increasing number of apartments, condominiums, houses, and portions thereof are offered and advertised as short-term rentals on websites, such as AirBNB and VRBO. In recent months, the number of such listings has exceeded 9,000. These listings contribute greatly to the disappearance of affordable housing in the City and County of San Francisco. To date, not a single online travel agency that advertises short-term residential rentals to tourists has paid the established Transient Occupancy Tax levied on hotels, despite a determination by the City in 2012 that they are liable for the tax. This ordinance is intended to stop the proliferation of short-term rentals through online travel agencies by requiring the registration prior to listing with an online travel agency; the verification of registration by the agencies prior to accepting listings; and allowing citizens to enforce the requirements through a complaint process.
Violation of the ordinance would be punishable by up to $10,000 per violation and 180 days in county jail, as proposed. And yes, Airbnb would be considered an “online travel agency,” or broker, in the eyes of the ordinance. The revenue from fines, over and above the costs of enforcing the ordinance, would be deposited in the City’s Housing Affordability Fund
Note the bounty for successfully prosecuting scofflaws, which had been bantered about, did not make the final cut, but the proposed ordinance would allow any person or entity to file a complaint, an action which is currently limited to the City or directly interested parties.