Poised to make a choice between two competing versions of legislation to regulate short-term rentals, the Board of Supervisors instead voted today to continue the items, delaying a final decision by more than a month.
Supervisor Farrell, who sponsored one of the proposals together with Mayor Lee, made the motion to delay the vote on both his proposal and that sponsored by Supervisors Campos, Mar and Avalos to find a compromise between supporting homesharing and maintaining the availability of affordable housing stock.
Supervisor Tang, who later emphasized the value of a clause prohibiting short-term rentals with a recent Ellis Act eviction in Farrell and the Mayor’s proposal, seconded the motion to put off the vote.
Campos, as well as a contingent of residents assembled to support legislation regulating Airbnb and similar companies, were disappointed.
“The last thing that we need in this building is to give the lobbyists of Airbnb more time to do what they have been doing for the last few years,” Campos said.
“I don’t care what Airbnb needs or wants,” responded Supervisor Wiener, who said Campos’ proposal goes too far and supported the continuance, citing his constituents’ dependence on Airbnb and homesharing in general to keep up with high rents.
Debate on whether to delay the vote was focused in part on concerns that residents just barely surviving in the city would lose a valuable source of income. However, both proposals still allow for short term rentals – Campos’ for 60 days and Farrell’s for 120 days. Currently, rentals during which the host is present are unlimited and those where the host is absent are limited to 90 days. City analysts who addressed the subject agreed that removing the distinction between hosted and unhosted rentals was a good idea.
Supervisors Christensen, Cohen, and Kim said they were worried about separating the “bad actors” who exploit homesharing platforms to profit from properties they do not live in from the “casual” homesharers who use those platforms to stay afloat.
Campos’s proposal calls on the hosting platforms to remove the bad actors by removing their offers from the site once they have reached their allowable rental days. Farrell and the mayor assign compliance to a newly formed office of short term rentals. Experts who have weighed in on the proposals say compliance is the key to making home sharing work for everyone, according to the various reports supplied to the Board.
“I’ve got constituents who are hanging on by the skin of their teeth,” Christensen said, calling for time to “iron out the lumps” in the legislation.
“Continuance would allow us to have a pause,” said Cohen, likening more time to consider competing legislation to the 45-day moratorium on market rate housing proposed by Campos that prompted more than seven hours of public comment at a Board meeting last week. “We want to be sure we’re not using a sledgehammer where we should be using a scalpel.”
“As people are asking to give Airbnb 30 days, the Mission was deprived of 45 days last week,” Campos responded. “A vote for continuance is really a vote for Airbnb.”
The Board voted 7 to 4 to continue both proposals.
As the room cleared, Sue Englander, co-proprietor of the radical bookstore Bolerium Books, walked in against the stream of departing members of the public. “This is bullshit! Bullshit!” she shouted to the Supervisors and to the room, frustrated that the issue of regulating Airbnb would not be addressed. She was removed by a Sherriff’s deputy.
Despite some outrage, the competing proposals will be reworked by legislators and brought before the Board on July 14.