Mayor, Farrell propose Airbnb law changes 

Short-term rentals may have become legal on Feb. 1, but City Hall agrees the law needs fixing.

On Tuesday, Mayor Ed Lee, with the support of Supervisor Mark Farrell, introduced legislation that would change the law.

“Our current homesharing laws must be more clear and easier to enforce,” Mayor Ed Lee said in a statement.

While short-term hosts are required to register before they engage in the practice, very few have. Just 455 applications were received and 170 registrations issued as of Tuesday, according to Planning Department spokeswoman Gina Simi.

The changes would place a hard cap on the number of days someone can rent out their home at 120 days. Currently, there are unlimited rentals when a host is present. Another change is to create a special short-term rental office space to streamline applications and assist with enforcement.

But critics say those changes still fall short.

Supervisor David Campos, who has also introduced changes to the law, criticized the mayor’s proposal calling it “unenforceable.” Specifically, Campos wants to require hosting platforms to provide data.

“How do you enforce the law without data from Airbnb and other hosting platforms or without fining companies that list unregulated units?”

Campos asked. “Are we going to hire people to sit outside every short-term rental in The City and count the number of days people are entering the units with luggage?”

The mayor’s proposal is expected to be heard at the Planning Commission on April 23.

Farrell said that the issue, which cities around the nation are struggling with, is “extremely complicated with a thousand different points of view,” but that his proposed changes aim to “strike a balance.”

Voters may be the ultimate deciders. ShareBetterSF is moving forward with the November ballot measure after criticizing the mayor’s proposal.

“It completely indemnifies Airbnb,” said Dale Carlson, a spokesman for ShareBetter SF. “It exacerbates the incentives to illegally convert residential units to tourist accommodations.”

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