Nearly one year after a law went into effect legalizing short-term rentals like Airbnb, less than 1,000 people are registered with The City as required.
For those who are critical of short-term rentals for their impact on housing supply, the low rate of registration is used to justify increasing regulations.
Supervisor David Campos estimates there are some 10,000 people engaged in hosting short-term rental stays in San Francisco through Airbnb or other platforms.
“More than 90 percent are not registered,” Campos said during Monday’s Board of Supervisors Land Use and Economic Development Committee hearing. “That is less than one in 10 that are actually following the law. That is not a huge improvement from where we were from just a few months.”
Kevin Guy, the short-term rental office director, said, to date, his office has received 1,300 applications and registered 879. In September, the number of people registered to offer short-term rentals was 667. The office also has opened up 264 enforcement cases, of which 155 remain under investigation; 14 were issued a notice of violation and 95 case were closed. Approximately $475,000 in penalties has been assessed.
Supervisor Scott Wiener called for Monday’s hearing to receive an update on the efforts of the Office of Short-Term Rental Administration and Enforcement. The office launched in June amid criticism that registration was low and enforcement was lackluster.
Wiener said he will hold quarterly hearings on the office’s enforcement and registration, but argued the existing rules need time. “I’ve been very vocal about letting this law work,” Wiener said. “It’s been in effect for 11 months now.”
In November, voters rejected a series of stricter regulations than the law that went into effect Feb. 1, after Airbnb spent $8 million to defeat Proposition F.
San Francisco’s regulations for short-term rentals remains in the Board of Supervisors crosshairs as there are ongoing talks about proposals to increase regulations.
Super Bowl 50 costs
After wrapping up a hearing on the short-term rental issue, the committee held an additional hearing on The City’s costs for hosting Super Bowl 50.
Last week, a memo from Mayor Ed Lee’s budget director Kate Howard tallied the total cost to The City at $4 million to cover Muni and public safety costs related to hosting a weeklong public celebration of the Super Bowl, which takes place Feb. 7 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.
A new estimate provided Monday states the cost to Muni alone has increased from $1.7 million to $2.3 million since last week’s estimate.
Supervisor Jane Kim is among those who objected to the use of public funds. Others argued it’s typical for The City to pick up the expenses for large events and that the Super Bowl event will more than offset the expense in tax revenues.
“It does spike tax revenue,” Wiener said of the Super Bowl. He also noted, “When you look at major outdoor events in San Francisco, I think it is very rare The City covers all its costs.”
After the hearing, Kim conceded The City will end up footing the bill despite her objections. “The City will be paying for that,” she said.
Kim said she plans to introduce legislation to set a clear policy around large events and the cost of city services to accommodate them, which may prevent similar debates from occurring in the future.