An Open Letter to Airbnb & Emey About Housing and Prop F:
sara shortt

Sara, a wonderful and thorough discussion of Prop F. I do have a question though. You say that 4500 perment rental units have been taken off the market because of Airbnb and VRBO — where did that figure come from? I understand that the Budget and Legislative Analyst’s Office suggested it was somewhere between 900–2000 units before the July 2015 legislation was passed (May 2015?), and I have trouble believing that it would have actually increased after that. (SF’s Chief Economist also estimated that owners would have to rent out their space about 120 nights per year to justify converting their unit to an exclusively short term rental, and it’s currently capped at 90). I’m actually quite interested if you could point me to better numbers. I understand the BLA methodology was questioned, and Ted Egan’s numbers depend on effective enforcement.

I like the idea of Prop F, and even though I’m not super comfortable with a company like Airbnb sharing way too much of my financial information with the city if I decided to rent out my space for the weekend, some of that info really is necessary to effectively enforce registration. But no matter the objectives, I’m not comfortable with allowing neighbors to initiate frivolous lawsuits even after the Planning Department determines that there’s been no violation. This market has evolved dramatically over the past few years, and I’m not convinced that amending the City’s charter is at all the best way to regulate something that could look very different in a few more years. Maybe it’s better left to improved BOS legislation?