SF supes postpone controversial vote on changing Airbnb law

San Francisco’s Airbnb debate continues to rage on after the Board of Supervisors postponed a vote Tuesday on dueling proposals to amend the existing short-term rental law.

Supervisor Mark Farrell, who has proposed one measure along with Mayor Ed Lee, requested the continuance for what he called more time to discuss a possible compromise.

Meanwhile Supervisor David Campos, who has proposed a competing measure, called on the board to vote and not delay.

But in the end the board voted 7-4 to postpone a decision on the two proposals until July 14. Campos, along with supervisors Eric Mar, John Avalos and Jane Kim opposed the delay.

But Farrell said the delay was would allow the board to try and reach a “consensus where possible and to avoid a complicated measure being decided at the ballot.”

A group called ShareBetter SF is collecting signatures to place the measure on the November ballot. Co-founder of ShareBetter SF Dale Carlson said that they have collected close to 10,000 signatures and expect to qualify by the deadline of July 7. They need 9,700 valid signatures to qualify. Once submitted, Carlson said the measure cannot be removed from the ballot. However, he noted that in the past some measures have been “orphaned,” in other words, active campaigns weren’t run for them.

Campos said that postponing the vote only benefited Airbnb. “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 in this building for the last couple of years.”

Campos spoke to the adverse impacts of improperly regulated short-term rentals, saying it is taking up vital housing units for long term tenants during a housing crisis.

His colleagues were quick to defend themselves.

“Frankly, I don’t care what Airbnb needs or wants. I don’t care what its lobbyists need or want,” Supervisor Scott Wiener said. “What I care is about what my constituents need and want.”

Wiener said that Campos’ restriction of 60-days for the number of stays a host can book per year goes too far for people who are relying on short-term rentals to be able to afford to live in San Francisco. Farrell’s proposal is 120 days. Campos’ proposal also requires hosting platforms to verify that a residential unit is registered with The City prior to listing. “I am eager to find a real solution,’ Supervisor Julie Christensen said. “I am just troubled by aspects of both proposals and hopeful that we can iron out those issues and come to something that we can actually feel will work.”

The board had legalized short term rentals beginning Feb 1. But shortly thereafter it was concluded a failed law with low registration of short term rental hosts and unenforceability.

The mayor’s proposed budget includes $800,000 for a short-term rental office dedicated to registering those to engage in the practice staffed by six city workers.

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