(Natasha Dangond/Special to S.F. Examiner file photo)

(Natasha Dangond/Special to S.F. Examiner file photo)

Campos proposes changes to short-term rental law in response to Airbnb lawsuit

San Francisco Supervisor David Campos on Tuesday introduced amendments to short-term rental legislation recently approved by the board that he said would address concerns raised by a lawsuit filed by Airbnb last month.

Airbnb filed suit in federal court on June 27 seeking to block legislation requiring that it and other short-term rental companies verify that hosts are legally registered with the city before allowing them to list properties.

Under the original legislation, introduced by Campos and Supervisor Aaron Peskin, hosting platforms could be fined up to $1,000 a day for every listing of an unregistered property.

The lawsuit alleges that the ordinance violates federal laws protecting internet speech and commerce and prohibiting the government from requiring communications and internet platforms to hand over user information without a subpoena.

In response, Campos on Tuesday introduced what he called “modest” amendments, developed in consultation with the city attorney’s office.

The revised legislation would change the focus of enforcement by fining platforms for accepting booking fees from unregistered hosts, rather than for simply allowing them to list properties. In addition, it would authorize the city to issue administrative subpoenas to ensure compliance.

The changes would also make the language of the legislation more precise, make changes in the record keeping requirements and make the registration process easier for hosts, Campos said.

“The reaction by Airbnb and other hosting platforms to our amendments today will speak volumes about their willingness to work reasonably and in good faith for needed regulation-or whether their real motivation is to continue facilitating lawless tourist rentals with impunity,” Campos said.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera said the proposed amendments would strengthen The City’s litigating position and “hopefully remove the basis for Airbnb’s federal suit.”

Airbnb officials Tuesday evening said they had not seen the proposed amendments or had a chance to review them.

“The introduction of today’s amendment acknowledges the legal infirmities with The City’s recent changes to the short term rental law. The fact remains that the ordinance as it stands today violates federal law, and these new proposed amendments still wouldn’t resolve the legal shortcomings that were raised in our complaint. We remain hopeful that we can work together to find solutions that address our shared policy concerns,” a company spokesperson said in a statement.

A hearing on Airbnb’s motion for a preliminary injunction in its lawsuit is currently scheduled for Sept. 7.

Short-term listings have been a source of controversy in San Francisco in part due to concerns that they are encouraging hosts to illegally remove units from the rental market for use as full-time hotel rooms, exacerbating the housing crisis. The unregistered rooms can also lead to unpaid hotel taxes, landlord issues and impacts on neighbors, according to critics.

San Francisco began requiring hosts to register and pay hotel taxes last year, but has struggled to enforce that requirement. Only around 25 percent of hosts listing rentals on Airbnb are registered, according to city figures released earlier this year.

Airbnb has agreed to collect city hotel taxes on bookings but has so far resisted requests to share information on hosts with the city or verify registration before listing properties.AirBnBDavid CamposPoliticsshort-term rentals

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Superintendent Vincent Matthews said some students and families who want to return will not be able to do so at this time. “We truly wish we could reopen schools for everyone,” he said. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFUSD sets April reopening date after reaching tentative agreement with teachers union

San Francisco Unified School District has set April 12 as its reopening… Continue reading

Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed legislation intended to help California schools reopen. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Newsom signs $6.6 billion school reopening legislative package

By Eli Walsh Bay City News Foundation Gov. Gavin Newsom and state… Continue reading

Recology executives have acknowledged overcharging city ratepayers. (Mira Laing/2017 Special to S.F. Examiner)
Recology to repay customers $95M in overcharged garbage fees, city attorney says

San Francisco’s waste management company, Recology, has agreed to repay its customers… Continue reading

A construction worker watches a load for a crane operator at the site of the future Chinatown Muni station for the Central Subway on Tuesday, March 3, 2021. (Sebastian Miño-Bucheli / Special to the S.F. Examiner)
Major construction on Central Subway to end by March 31

SFMTA board approves renegotiated contract with new deadline, more contractor payments

Most Read