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Party at popular Airbnb rental in Bernal Heights erupts into gunfire, but law would’ve prevented listing

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A house at 212 Banks St. in Bernal Heights shows no signs of damage on Monday, more than a week after a shooting at the illegal Airbnb unit. (Daniel Kim/Special to S.F. Examiner)
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It’s rare that housing law shows its worth by a neighborhood’s near-death experience, but a long-challenged law to limit short-term rentals like Airbnb likely could have prevented a shooting in Bernal Heights this month.

Thankfully, no one was killed. But the neighborhood remains in shock after an Oct. 14 party erupted into a hail of automatic gunfire that left two wounded with non-life-threatening injuries.

“The shootout on Banks Street was terrifying and outrageous,” Supervisor Hillary Ronen said in a statement. “What occurred was the result of a flagrant disregard for San Francisco law.”

Photos of the incident show bullet holes in nearby vehicles and apartments. Neighbors sending complaints to The City said they saw “people running over roofs, jumping over fences” to get to safety, and that police found spent bullet casings over three blocks.

You see, the party was bumpin’ at a 212 Banks St. home that is popular on both the Airbnb and VRBO short-term rental websites, according to the Office of Short Term Rentals, which regulates the platforms.

Bernal Heights neighbors documented bullet holes in their homes, pictured, and vehicles after an Oct. 14 shooting at a party in an illegal short-term rental unit. (Courtesy Todd Lappin/Bernalwood)

Those listings were illegal, as they were not registered with The City.

“I live on the block and was awoken by the shots, and saw many people running down the block trying to get out of the area,” neighbor AnnMarie told local blog Bernalwood, which first reported that the property was an Airbnb listing. (Todd Lappin, who runs the website, is a neighborhood stalwart).

The house in question — a “spacious” two-bedroom unit for $440 a night, according to the listing — was frequently rented on Airbnb and VRBO by “Erik,” an owner who apparently lives in Indonesia.

It’s unclear if the rental was booked through Airbnb or VRBO that particular night, according to Kevin Guy, head of the Office of Short Term Rentals.

An Airbnb spokesperson, however, said the platform would reimburse neighbors for property damage.

In a statement sent to me, Airbnb wrote, “We have zero tolerance for this type of behavior and upon learning of this incident, we permanently banned this guest from our platform, suspended the listing and reached out to law enforcement to offer our assistance.”

Guy told me both Airbnb and VRBO “acted quickly” to remove Erik’s listing. But they should have never let him on their rental sites at all.

You see, former Supervisor David Campos introduced legislation in April 2016 to require Airbnb, VRBO and other short-term rental sites to delist anyone not vetted and registered with the Office of Short Term Rentals.

The 212 Banks St. listing was denied city registration to host short-term rentals in 2016. If Campos’ law barring unregistered rentals from being listed was in place, that would’ve been the end of the story.

But Airbnb sued, and the law’s implementation was frozen. Unregistered Airbnb users were allowed to stay on the platform.

In May, San Francisco and Airbnb finally settled. Now, the process of slowly delisting illegal rentals is taking place, Guy said, and is set to finish in January.

“If this process had rolled out sooner, this listing would have been scrubbed sooner,” Guy told me.

More details may emerge at a community meeting at the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center on Wednesday at 6 p.m. Guy, Ronen and the San Francisco Police Department will be on hand to answer questions from neighbors.

* * *

Oh my, I have never eaten so much clam chowder in my life. Still, a hearty congrats to the winners of the Wharf Fest 2017 chowder contest. I was a judge and, believe you me, I had no idea how many varieties of chowder could be concocted. One resembled black sludge but was entirely delicious, while bacon, whole crawfish and other delectable treats floated in others.

Cioppino’s, a Fisherman’s Wharf staple since 1997, nabbed first place from the four judges. Cioppino’s chowder was a traditional New England style, but with a zest that gave it that special something extra.

Second place went to the Blue Mermaid Restaurant, and third went to Pier Market Seafood Restaurant.

* * *

Karim “Hard Hitta” Mayfield squares up against Miguel Dumas on Saturday night at The Armory, in a bout he’d win by decision. (Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez/S.F. Examiner)

The “Hard Hitta” lived up to his name Saturday night under the lights of the historic San Francisco Armory. That would be Karim “Hard Hitta” Mayfield, a city native who hails from The Fillmore (or The ’Mo, if you please). After five rounds of brutal, back and forth pugilistic glory, the boxer unleashed a hurricane fury of successive hooks on his opponent, Miguel Dumas, and won by decision.

In perhaps a more decisive showing, Raquel “Pretty Beast” Miller, of the Bayview, KO’d her opponent in the first round. In the ring, Miller wore a red, blue and gold Wonder Woman outfit, fittingly, because she clobbered her opponent in brutal comic book fashion.

Both brought history back to our golden city, as the title fights are the first here since 1992.

Mayfield was seemingly exhausted during each round, as was Dumas. But watching the “Hard Hitta” rebound in the sixth round brought the nearly full crowd to its feet under The Armory’s colorful lights. They screamed, “REEM! REEM!” as Mayfield pummeled Dumas against the ropes.

I counted each of those heavy hooks, mostly rights, which swung like wrecking balls. Right, right, right, left, right, right, left, uppercut, right. Sweat flew. Dumas stumbled. Brutal.

When asked how he found the energy to win, Mayfield admitted his opponent, who was previously undefeated, fought “tenaciously.”

But it was the sounds of the crowd that shook his spirit back to life.

“Fans will do that to you,” Mayfield said.

On Guard prints the news and raises hell each week. Email Fitz at joe@sfexaminer.com, follow him on Twitter and Instagram @FitztheReporter, and Facebook at facebook.com/FitztheReporter.

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