As many as 30 percent of the available rentals in the Mission are off the market and used as hotel rooms; the Chiu legislation is a complete failure

Susan Whetzel was evicted, and now her apartment is on Airbnb
Susan Whetzel was evicted, and now her apartment is on Airbnb

By Tim Redmond

MAY 14, 2015 – As many as 30 percent of the available apartments in neighborhoods like the Mission have been taken off the market and used for short-terms rentals through platforms like Airbnb, a city study shows.

There’s also a close correlation between then number of Airbnb rentals and the number of evictions, the report shows.

The study by the Board of Supervisors Budget Analyst confirms what nearly every tenant advocate in the city has been saying for months: The regulatory legislation by then-Sup. David Chiu, which passed last year with the support of Mayor Ed Lee, has been a complete failure.

The report makes a key distinction between “casual” short-term rentals – places where existing residents occasionally rent out a room in their home to visitors – and “commercial” rentals – apartments or houses that have been converted almost entirely to hotel rooms.

If an entire place is listed on Airbnb for more than 59 nights a year, the Budget Analyst defined it as a commercial operation. For private and shared rooms in a place where a resident lives, the threshold was 89 nights a year.

It’s impossible to know exactly how many units are rented out through Airbnb, VRBO, Flipkey or other services, since those hosting platforms refuse to release that date.

By most estimates, there are at least 5,000 in San Francisco, and possibly twice that number. Share Better SF, the group that’s putting a measure on the fall ballot to more tightly regulate short-term rentals, estimates that there are 4,700 entire units – houses or entire apartments – being used exclusively for Airbnb-type rentals.

The vast majority are illegal. Under current city law, units have to be registered with the city, and only 282 registrations have been recorded with the City Planning Department.

This chart shows the correlation between evictions and Airbnb
This chart shows the correlation between evictions and Airbnb

The Budget Analyst used far more conservative numbers, assuming a total of about 6,000 units with between 2,000 and 3,000 falling into the commercial category.

But even with those numbers, the impacts are alarming. In the Haight Ashbury and Western Addition, 31.9 percent of all units that are available for rent have been turned into full-time short-term rentals, meaning they aren’t available for people desperately seeking a place to live. In the Mission, it’s 29.2 percent. In the Castro, it’s 24.6 percent.

City wide, as much as 23 percent of the available rental housing has gone to Airbnb.

It’s no wonder that rents have skyrocketed, particularly in neighborhoods with high percentages of the available housing vanishing from the rental market.

There’s a numerical correlation between the rate of evictions and the number of Airbnb listings, the report found. In the Inner Mission, for example, there were 323 evictions in 2014, and 315 units used as short-term rentals. In the Haight, there were 212 evictions, and 193 STRs.

Here’s how it works in real life.

At a press conference this morning, Susan Whetzel described how she was evicted, on what a lawsuit she’s filed claims was a fraudulent pretense, and her apartment was turned into an Airbnb rental.

Whetzel, who has lived on 18th Street for 10 years, learned in 2012 that her landlord had won a permit to convert to apartment to a condominium. That’s a legal ground for eviction, and in 2014, he tossed her out.

But she wound up staying with friends next door – “and,” she told me, “I can see the tourists coming in with their suitcases day after day.”

Whetzel, who works with autistic children, told me she will probably have to leave town and move back East because she will never find an affordable apartment.

In a lawsuit filed against landlord Peter Louie, Whetzel alleges that the condo conversion was improper: Under city law, you can’t convert a rental unit to a condo unless you live in the building. Louie told the city that he lived there, but she alleges that he never had any residency. In fact, the lawsuit claims, he was living in the East Bay with his wife and family the entire time.

“At no time during the ten years that [Whetzel] lived in the subject apartment did Louie live in the subject building,” the lawsuit states.

He certainly isn’t living there now: The place is currently listed on the Airbnb site for $250 a night.

In other words, she charges, the landlord got rid of a tenant living under rent control and paying $1,700 a month so that he could rent the place out to tourists at $250 a night. Which is roughly five times what she was paying.

Calls to Louie’s attorney were not returned. In court filings, he has denied the allegations.

At the press conference, Sup. David Campos, who requested the report, noted that the mayor is seeking a $250 million bond act this fall that would build, at most, 1,000 new units of affordable housing. “And because of Airbnb, we are seeing more than 2,000 units taken off the market,” he said.

“They are stealing our rental units,” Sara Shortt, director of the Housing Rights Committee, said.

Campos has legislation that would limit to 60 the number of days a unit can be listed on Airbnb-type platforms – but more important, would mandate that only registered units be listed and that Airbnb share with the city data on the addresses of hosted units and the lengths of time they are rented out.

There would be stiff fines for both the hosting platforms and the landlords who violate the rules.

Santa Monica has gone much further: That town has essentially banned commercial short-term rentals. A similar proposal is on the agenda in West Hollywood.

 

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Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.
  • SolAlex

    Bogus analysis. The real reason so many units are “off the market” is because their owners do not want them “on the market” because they do not want to deal with rent control.

    Some use Airbnb, for sure. But others do corporate lets, academic lets, vacation lets, sell as TIC or anything other than risk being stuck with a “lifer loser” who will hoard the place for decades and consider it his crowning achievement in life.

    When will you realize that rent control deters rentals, suppresses supply, raises rents at the margin and harms anyone looking for a new home?

    • Ragazzu

      Bogus rationale. If these owners don’t want to “deal with rent control,” the law in San Francisco for 36 years, they shouldn’t be in the rental business at all.

      S.O.L.Sam gets off on calling others “losers.” At least he doesn’t use “vermin” like he did (as “John”) on the Mission Local blog.

      • SolAlex

        You can argue that property owners should not stay in the rental business if they do not like the law. But those owners have to deal with the reality that they have regardless of the path they took to get there.

        And when they get a vacancy, they are faced with the choice of either getting another long-term tenant or avoiding that. Why do you find it so hard to understand why they might take the latter option?

        The law you love directly leads to less rental housing being available. Why do you think that is a good idea?

        • Ragazzu

          The law you hate has actually kept a semblance of working people housed–one of its chief goals. Don’t be disingenuous by denying scarcity isn’t in your interest and that you want to see rents lowered.

          • RichLL

            I think he has a profound understanding how rent control helps those who control the supply of rental housing.

            The question raised is valid however. Isn’t it inevitable that controls over rents, and therefore profit margins, will reduce the amount of rental housing offered long-term?

            And isn’t it also inevitable that those owners will instead seek other uses for their property that are not covered by rent control, such as short-term lets?

            The real issue here is what kind of behavior we want to encourage these property owners to adopt.

          • folderpete

            Let me just remind you that the profit motive isn’t the only one. Having control over your home and property is, in some instances, the primary factor.
            ; whether you want to control for obnoxious neighbors, reserve future-use options, or just don’t want the hassle of this “dirty” business.

          • Ragazzu

            Here we go with another round of landlord victimization sobs. (Sniff.) Appropriately, right below an article detailing the alleged crime of a landlord.

            Now who can come up with the vilest epithet for long-term, rent-paying tenants today?

          • folderpete

            would “alleged good customers” fill the bill?

          • RichLL

            Outside of rent control landlords to treat tenants as customers, and compete to offer the best deals.

            Rent control makes that relationship toxic, and turns neighbors against each other.

          • RichLL

            Nobody was asking for sympathy for landlords. Pete was simply explaining to you why landlords make the decisions that they do, such as preferring non-controlled uses for their property.

            Unless you understand the demotivating factor of rent control, you will never understand why thousands of long-term rental units are being converted to other uses.

            Airbnb is largely irrelevant to that. Owners can do short-term lets in lots of others ways, e.g. renting directly to Universities or Corporations, or finding short-term tenants through CriagsList.

      • VivaShotwell

        You are right Raggazzu. Many of them refuse to be in the rental business because they don’t want to deal with rent control and tenants who feel entitled to stay forever. Airbnb gives those kind of people a way to earn income from their units. However if Airbnb disappeared tomorrow that does not mean those units would end up in the rental market.

    • GarySFBCN

      “If Airbnb were banned tomorrow I can near guarantee you that very few, if any, of those units would suddenly be offered long term at an affordable rent. You are deluded. These units are vacant and lost forever as affordable units. ”

      If the so-called “housing crisis” causes us to ignore zoning laws to build out SF and even to make a ridiculous excuse to tear down a freeway, the use of eminent domain to confiscate property owned by landlords who are willfully contributing to the “crisis” seems reasonable.

      • folderpete

        Of course, that would take a resolution, legis, funding, and bureaucracy. In the meantime prop owners would put in motion “sales agreements” and the Alito Court (thk goodness for small favors) would strike this attempt down as “interfering in a sale of property”. Admittedly a turn-around on Kelo, but to slap down Prog heavy-handedness… 🙂

        • danimalssf

          His idea is dopey on the face of it. For eminent domain, the City would have to pay Fair Market Value for the property. It would be cheaper to build something new as opposed to an ED

          • wcw

            Market value for rent controlled property with long-term tenants is significantly lower than for new, non-controlled property.

          • RichLL

            Not sure how useful that comparison is because the only non-controlled multi-unit buildings that are exempt from rent control are post-1979 buildings. So you are comparing new build with older build.

            The value of a rent-controlled building is actually much higher than that implied by the current controlled rents. They also factor in an “opportunity premium” which is based on the probability of getting vacancies in the future, either through evictions or through natural turnover.

            ED isn’t an option except in occasional isolated cases, but a program of voluntary purchases of buildings with low-rent tenants might be possible. Whether it is viable is another matter since, by definition, the city will only be buying the buildings that are the most uneconomic and unwanted. Could lead to significant losses to the taxpayer in much the same way as public housing projects have been a drain on resources..

          • wcw

            Yeah, the SFHA has been terrible. It didn’t have to be, but it has.

      • wcw

        What’s wrong with tearing down freeways? Tearing down the Embarcadero freeway seems to have had manifold positive effects.

        • GarySFBCN

          The Embarcadero freeway was about to fall down, so the circumstances are not the same.

          My issue with tearing down 280 is that it is clearly a twofer – a land grab and a distraction that supposedly demonstrates that the Warrior’s entertainment complex will not make life miserable for tens of thousands of people who commute because ‘the train.’

          But at a macro level, and this isn’t being directed to you, for the love of all things good in the world, give me a fucking master plan to ‘grow’ San Francisco’s population to a specific number (within 10,000).

          The episodic building, the spot, micro-problem solving via housing-crisis response are nothing more than maneuvers to allow moneyed interests to get away ruining San Francisco for their own profits.

          There are plenty of urban planners who could do this. But we are stuck with the clowns at city planning, the mayor of AirBnB and a BOS that is incompetent.

          • wcw

            The devil is in the details, but improving the train route and tearing down that stretch of the 280 seems like a win. Intra-urban freeways are terrible for cities.

          • GarySFBCN

            How is it a win-win for those who are dependent upon their cars or buses? Do you envision thousands of people abandoning their vehicles and start using the train? I don’t, so the streets will be even more clogged than they are now.

            And given that the train, as well as BART and MUNI are already near or exceeding capacity, just where are these people going to go?

            http://sf.streetsblog.org/2014/04/03/caltrain-crowding-to-worsen-even-with-longer-trains-in-2015/

          • wcw

            Buses will run just fine; the Muni can reroute.

            That the region needs more and better transit, as indubitably it does, is no reason to keep an eyesore pollution source.

          • GarySFBCN

            With 10,000 more autos on the streets, Muni will be worse.

            If we are talking about eyesores, many of the new buildings should too be demolished.

          • wcw

            When you make something more expensive, you get less of it. Demolishing that section of the 280 makes driving into town more expensive in terms of time. There would be fewer cars driving into San Francisco, not more.

          • GarySFBCN

            $100 parking on game day doesn’t stop people from driving to Giant’s games.

            And punishing the poor and middle class because a key piece of our broken transit system is an ‘eyesore’ is a bit extreme.

          • wcw

            The 280, like most freeways, mostly makes city life more convenient for wealthy people in nice neighborhoods in the north and west, and mostly dumps pollution into poor ones southeast:
            http://www.sustainablecommunitiesindex.org/img/indicators/small/PM2.5_Concentration.png

          • RichLL

            How do you know 280 is used by rich people and not, say, by lower-income workers commuting in from the Peninsula?

          • wcw

            Poor folks take the bus.

        • davidenlightenment

          Why not put in dirt roads while we’re at it?

          The city needs some highways. They’re very efficient when they’re not clogged. And trucks need to deliver supplies to the city.

          Use congestion tolling like in London. Seriously.

      • Pvt. Hudson

        I’m all for cracking down on AirBnB, Uber, and another companies that are really only profitable because they skirt the regulations adhered too by the existing players in their industry. That said, the idea that this will somehow help the housing crisis is a little silly. If hosts aren’t allowed to operate at these “commercial” levels, they will simply host less or make the units available at market rate. The city has got to stop being reactionary with policy and address the roots of the housing crisis: not enough housing stock, and an influx of high wage earners. Protect the people and institutions who are still here and develop as many other under-used spaces as possible.

        • GarySFBCN

          “If hosts aren’t allowed to operate at these “commercial” levels, they will simply host less or make the units available at market rate. ”

          Supposedly, more market-rate units being available will solve the “crisis”, so I don’t quite understand your argument.

          • Pvt. Hudson

            Only somewhere around 3,000. And you mistake me, I am all for these reforms. I simply take issue with Tim’s implication that this will have any impact. Displacement is a symptom of the larger problem: not enough housing. If there were more units available, there would be less incentive to evict people for either condo conversions or short term rentals. We’ve got to think much, much bigger. We don’t need 3,000 more units, we need twenty times that number.

          • Bruce

            By forcing them with a cap – it only forces homeowners to move to other platforms and do it a different way – solving nothing. STR should be left alone. The laws that are currently in place are working – give them time and an easier way to register. Homeowners rights over tenants rights any day. This is what you get for having terrible tenants whom think they have more power than a homeowner.

          • RichLL

            At some point progressives will come to the realization that endlessly trying to outlaw different uses for a rental unit is doomed, because owners are always one-step ahead. I have already migrated away from Airbnb because it has become a political hot potato. But if I use a platform based overseas, how will the city ever get information on that?

            Point being, whatever I do with these units, it will not be renting long-term to a SF tenant. So perhaps the question progressives should be asking is this: “How can landlords to incentivized to offer their units long-term again?”

            How about tax breaks to any LL who re-offers a vacant unit to a controlled tenant? Or the city makes up the difference between the market rent and an affordable rent?

          • GarySFBCN

            AirBnB is being ‘outlawed’ or regulated in several countries. Point being that operating a businesses means complying with regulations, paying taxes and being a good citizen.

          • Bruce

            which you seem to be missing the point that Airbnb has been paying the TOT tax and the city of SF has already cashed the checks monthly. They have also paid back taxes. So how again are they not paying taxes?

          • RichLL

            You are missing the point. If Airbnb is outlawed that doesn’t mean that those units are going back on the rental market. We already know those owners do not want to deal with rent control, so they will just find another use for their units.

            Example – I recently got a letter from a time-share company wanting to rent my units on regular leases and then sublet them to their global membership of travellers.

            You can ban specific uses of a home but you cannot force an owner to provide them for long-term housing for locals

        • Bruce

          Airbnb doesn’t skirt the law #1. Their platform pays TOT taxes and has been doing so. Secondly, they paid out back taxes with the city. Thirdly, there is a process in place to register with the city which is and has been a terrible process to get registered and the city has not taken the problem seriously. I am registered and it was not easy and lengthy and now they are complaining that not enough have registered.

          Tell me again how one can register when you go to the planning commission in the Mission and you sit around while all the contractors are being helped and there was literally 1 person working the STR area, which equates to maybe 15 per day. Its a wonder why there are so few registered.

          • Bruce

            and our place we would never rent long term. We enjoy the flexibility of having friends and family come visit us and need that flexibility. A long term rental would not put up with that.

  • Jon Kozone

    Re: “City wide, as much as 23 percent of the available rental housing has gone to Airbnb.”

    What the report actually estimates is that somewhere between 925 and 1,960 units have been removed because of Airbnb (they use 1,251 as a reasonable estimate). They note that this is between 0.4% and 0.8% of the rental market.

    What Tim does to get to his 23% number is divide the lost units by the number of vacant units. While the report does offer that calculation also it is something of a non sequitur. Those units would not be vacant under any circumstances.

    No matter how you spin it, we’re talking about 1,251 units. That’s why legislation and regulation came about.

    I’m not saying anything about the implication of the report, I’m just trying to point out that you shouldn’t accept anything that Tim Redmond says without checking alternative sources.

    From the report:

    Assessing only the impact of commercial hosts that rent entire housing units for short-term rentals, the Budget and Legislative Analyst estimates that between 925 and 1,960 units citywide have been removed from the housing market from just Airbnb listings. At between 0.4 and 0.8 percent, this number of units is a small percentage of the 244,012 housing units that comprised the rental market in 2013 (the latest number available from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey). However, when compared to the 8,438 units reported as vacant by the American Community Survey in 2013, the percentage is estimated to be between 11.0 and 23.2 percent, as follows.

    • RichLL

      And the real question is this. How many of those 1,251 units would become affordable controlled units again if somehow Airbnb and the like went away?

      • chompsky

        That would be zero.

        • Jon Kozone

          Well yeah.

          If Airbnb went away then there would be 1,251 market rate apartments available for a few days.

          Not a single affordable unit would be made available.

          I hope that the people affected by the affordability crisis know that it is important to ignore Tim Redmond and instead seek out reality based information that could actually help them.

          • RichLL

            Many of those 1,251 units would not be re-offered for long-term rentals even though they would get a market rent and so not be affordable. Many landlords would rather stick pins in their eyes than ever again risk being stuck with a tenant who never leaves. And even that market rent will look fairly sad in a few years time assuming continued inflation of rents.

            I would expect many of those 1,251 units would be either sold as TIC’s or rented directly to corporations, colleges, employers, vacation platforms and other entities and institutions. Any lessee that does not reside in a unit does not get rent control.

        • Bruce

          Exactly. Not everyone wants long term tenants. And they should have the right to do that. Since when does a tenant have rights over a single family homeowner renting out a spare room in their home. Not all airbnbs are bad. DON’T lump us all into 1 category.

          • Ethan Davidson

            Not all are bad. But under city law, they DO NOT have the right to turn rental units into full time hotels. And I don’t see how it would be better if they did.
            Evan if none of the units go back to being affordable, at least it would create a disincentive, if the laws passed had teeth.

          • Bojorco

            The evictions are on false pretenses. It’s little different from all those phony owner move-ins from the early 90s when the new owners claimed that their babushka was going to be living in a unit they owned, and just a few weeks after the tenants were evicted, some new tenant paying full market-rate rent was there.

        • sffoghorn

          Who wants their residential neighborhoods to be summarily rezoned to hotels?

          Who wants their streets to be claimed by private livery services as drop off and pick up zones on an industrial scale?

  • Bob

    You know what else has been a complete failure? Progressive leadership on creating new homes in San Francisco. Chius legislation is recent – what’s your excuse for the last 30 years?

    • sffoghorn

      As Sam loves to remind everyone, there has not been a progressive mayor since 1992. How can it be that these sinister progressives cannot win citywide elections yet progressives somehow exercise a stranglehold over development policy? I mean, given their utter lack of political execution for the past 15 years and their failure to win the mayor’s office, is there nothing that the progressives are not responsible for?

      • folderpete

        Thank goodness. But Progs have been incessant in pushing further rent controls, in pushing NIMBY legis, and generally creating an atmosphere that scares away development.

        Call it Political PTSD.

        • sffoghorn

          Right, “progs” can’t win citywide elections but voters support policies that progs put on the ballot.

          In your twisted view, it is the progressives who offer the people choices they decide to take, choices that those elected citywide won’t offer them, who are at fault when people decide to support progressive policies.

          You hate San Franciscans.

          • folderpete

            No, more like disgusted by the delusions the snake-oil salesmen (and gals) peddle and the inevitable outcomes that follow.

            “hey, if the lumbago is getting worse, I must need more oil”

          • sffoghorn

            More like running and winning to the center left, governing to the center, flipping polarities to the right, and screwing everyone who helped them get elected in the first place. That is a self deflating tire and a bore.

          • folderpete

            blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah … a bore … blah blah blah

          • Ethan Davidson

            At least you have admited you are a bore. The next step would be to seek help.

  • folderpete

    Another flaw in the report is the refusal to look at “casual” lets, which are about 3/4 of the total – and are tenant-based: focusing instead on ‘entire units’ which presumably are done by landlords.

    While a percent of those ‘casual’ likely involve sharing a room, most are letting out a vacant room; and I would suggest that a large segment of those – in absence of ABnB – could be rented to a roommate. Those rooms are the most “affordable” housing available, by law being a % of the RC rent. But including them in this indictment puts the spotlight on tenants, rather than prop owners/LLs.

    And as with the Susan Wetzel example, she was evicted for a condo conversion – not ABnB. I will give kudos, though, for lister her rent amt.

  • CleanuptheHaight

    The practice of using a short term let as an alternative to a hotel has become so popular with tourists that there is no stopping it at this point. The city will never be able to truly regulate it. Also, it sounds like Sara Shortt thinks she owns every apartment in San Francisco. “Our rental units?”

  • Bob

    Not Sam. By progressives I mean: peskin, Hestor, brugmann, all the professional no sayers. People who have dedicated their lives to making sure that SF remains their personal idea of unchanging perfection.

  • Daniele

    Another instance where regulations are definitely needed. Why? Cause it’s always the same: money corrupts. Makes people only think of themselves and what they can gain, and suddenly a sense of community—or rather the perspective of community—vanishes. It’s not rocket science. So it was with the financial crisis, so it is here too. Those regulations can’t be put in fast enough, so thank you Supe Campos. And also, what gets called “the sharing economy” has to be carefully looked at. What on the surface can seem like a good thing, isn’t necessarily. If unchecked. It’s a balancing act. The scales are righting themselves now, we hope.

    • chris12bb

      I think it is harder than rocket science and that is the problem. Look at all the problems the current regulations have caused, adding more will only compound the issue. A more thought full two sided debate is needed, where we as a society can look after the vulnerable without rewarding the lazy. Landlords are keen to turn units into TIC, and vacant units will often remain empty, or rented out to tenants who the landlords view as likely to move out after a year or two (PHD students are always a favorite). The current set of regulations did more harm than good.

  • GarySFBCN

    There’s an app and a hotline to report illegal AirBnB units – from Dennis Herrera:

    “And I encourage tenants and neighbors to report housing-related wrongdoing online to my office through our Up2Code.org website or the Up2Code app, or by calling our Code Enforcement Hotline at (415) 554-3977.”

    http://sfcitizen.com/blog/2014/04/23/dennis-herrera-throws-down-sues-short-term-rental-scofflaws-for-illegal-conversions-unlawful-business-practices-ellis-act-baby/

    • jhayes362

      Great idea

    • chris12bb

      Great neighbors grassing on one another

      • GarySFBCN

        Don’t break the law and you won’t have that problem.

        • RichLL

          Should we call ICE about any undocumented aliens that we know of then?

          • GarySFBCN

            Do whatever you think is best.

          • davidenlightenment

            The anit-grentrificaiton movement has so much in common with the anti-immigration movement it’s kind of scary. It’s xenophobic and very conservative.

      • Bojorco

        As it should be.

  • GarySFBCN

    Also, this:

    “On May 12th, 2015 the Santa Monica City Council adopted the “Home-Sharing Ordinance,” adding chapter 6.20 to the Santa Monica Municipal Code clarifying prohibitions against short-term Vacation Rentals and imposing regulations on Home-Sharing. This law becomes effective by June 15th, 2015 allowing eligible Residents (owners and tenants) to apply for a business license through the City’s Business License program. This informational website has been developed to provide preliminary information on the new Home-Sharing Ordinance. ”

    http://www.smgov.net/Departments/PCD/Permits/Short-Term-Rental-Home-Share-Ordinance/

    And to preempt the typical response from Sam/Phil/Solalex: Just because technology allows you to easily break the law, you are not immune from prosecution.

  • chris12bb

    After the couple of recent stories about Tenants who lied about their circumstances I am not sure I believe Susan’s story. It seems like allot of these tales elaborate the truth; has Tim followed up to get prove or just took her story at face value.

  • mississippidude

    If I own an apartment, why can’t I rent it to whoever the hell I want, via whatever method, and at whatever cost the market will bear? If an owner makes a business decision to not renew a tenant’s lease and use the apartment as an AirBnB rental to bring in much more income, what is the problem? More power to him. That’s how free market capitalism works.

  • Rebecca Theim

    I don’t want to belittle the impact short-term rentals have on neighbors or neighborhoods, but that issue aside, consider a different perspective. My family and I turned to airbnb because of the exorbitant rates charges by decent hotels in the communicators to which we travel (namely, L.A., D.C. and New Orleans). If we stay in hotels, who gets our money? Primarily out-of-stare, and usually highly profitable corporations. If we rent from airbnb people? It’s often individuals who spend that money locally. I’m not defending law breakers, but it’s a different way to look at it.

  • David Giesen

    Sooooooo, I know many of you must be tired of my saw, but the issue it concerns isn’t tired of presenting itself, and until we as a community are ready to cut off our reluctance to profoundly analyze the dynamics of land values, we’re going to be stuck with displacement and low wages for the great number of our neighbors.

    As I’ve expatiated upon elsewhere in a number of Comment spaces, land values rise with the presence of community. That’s why land values belong to community. So long as we, as a community, permit those community-generated land values to be privatized, just that long will individuals and corporations seek to reap those values for themselves. The key to resolving the AirBnB puzzle is the same key that unlocks higher wages. Taxing away as public revenue the annual rent of land (the rent of location, location, location) kills land speculation and eliminates the unearned income from mere ownership of the value of location that enables those with valuable land to under use it. It’s the latter phenomenon of underused land in San Francisco that obliges renters/leasers to pay a speculatively high rent or more to the periphery.

    In a riff on Tim Redmond’s former employer’s jingle, “Read my website, dang it!” http://www.TheCommonsSF.org Even better, read the straight scoop yourself, Progress & Poverty by Henry George.

    • davidenlightenment

      Yep, it’s all our land. But it’s not just for those who currently live in SF city limits. It’s EVERYBODY’S! I’m all for a NATIONAL land tax. I think Henry George would have been too if he thought about it.

      irBnB democratizes the allocation of space to those who weren’t just in SF at the right place at the right time to buy or lock down a rent-controlled apartment with a nice landlord.

  • sfparkripoff

    According to the SF Weekly, “homesharing” companies funneled nearly $600,000 into an independent expenditure committee to back city Supervisor David Chiu, who lead the fight to legalize Airbnb. http://valleywag.gawker.com/airbnb-investors-finance-smear-campaign-as-reward-for-f-1646655547

    You cant blame Air BNB or (any private company) for using underhanded, cut throat, back stabbing business tactics to earn money. Thats the way that big business operates. If anyone is to blame for evictions and displacement look no further than the politicians who have benefited from aiding and abetting the “home sharing” economy. Homesharing portrays the real estate industry in a false light that misrepresents the both supply and demand of housing.

    Uber and Lyft eviscerated the Taxi industry by sidestepping regulations. Is it any surprise that home sharing companies are doing the same with our housing supply?

  • Chris

    Amazing: everyone’s debating what this study means without even noticing that the study’s actual conclusions are completely bogus.

    It purports to make a “key distinction” between “casual” rentals that are primarily the host’s residence vs. “commercial” ones that represent units removed from the rental market.

    But the method it uses to make this distinction is based on a false assumption. It assumes that any unit “listed” for more than 2 months a year is a commercial unit. That’s ridiculous!

    My home is listed on airbnb all the time (well, actually more like 10 months/year since I occasionally block the listing for times when I know I need to be home, like when I have family visiting).

    I get maybe 1 or 2 requests per month on airbnb to rent it for some period. I accept maybe 2 or 3 of those requests per year, when I feel like taking a trip. So last year my place was listed pretty much all year but was actually rented a grand total of about 2 weeks. This year I have yet to rent it, though I have accepted rental requests for later this summer for a total of about 3 weeks. This study would have counted my home as a commercial rental, and that would be wrong since I live here 90% of the time.

    Just because airbnb won’t release its data doesn’t entitle you to make absurd assumptions, use them to make meaningless estimates about what the actual data might be, and then start talking about those estimates as if they’re some kind of approximation of reality.

    • davidenlightenment

      This journalist is kind of a troll. Scapegoating AirBnB? What next? Build a wall around SF?

  • davidenlightenment

    This is the anti-gentrification movement at its worst. The link between AirBnB and evictions is tentative at best. Landlords already have plenty of economic incentive to evict rent controlled tenants.

    AirBnB provides many less well-off households with much needed income to help them pay rent. And it lets people find accommodations for less. This journalist might as well be a lacky for big chain hotels.

    AirBnB has nothing to do with the affordability crisis in San Francisco, which was in the works long before. Rising incomes and income inequality, and lack of new building are what its about. Simple supply and demand.

    The regulatory “solutions” put forth by the anti-gentrification are about as good as the war on drugs: harmful, discriminatory, and ultimately counter-productive.

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