Sharing Economy

San Francisco's Horrible Anti-Airbnb Initiative Rejected

Proposition F would have been a lawsuit factory for NIMBY neighbors.

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"There's gluten-free, no sugar added, paleo-compliant muffins in the kitchen."
Airbnb

A victory for freedom of commerce in San Francisco (of all places)! A coalition of special interests tried to make life miserable for short-term room rental services like Airbnb at the ballot box yesterday. They were soundly pushed back by a vote to 55-45 percent.

Proposition F was a particularly terrible ballot initiative, and Airbnb spent millions to fight it, with good reason. It would have restricted residents or homeowners from short-term room rentals to 75 days a year. It didn't matter if the homeowner was also living there (city law currently caps short-term rentals to 90 days if the host is not living there, but there's no cap at all if he or she is). Furthermore, it obligated websites that promote these rentals (like Airbnb) to police the rental eligibility of those who advertised through them.

But the big kicker that made Proposition F a potential disaster in the making was that it gave anybody living within 100 feet of an alleged short-term rental standing to sue both the people providing the short-term rentals and the websites that hosted them if they had violated the ordinance. Housing nonprofits in the city would also have standing to sue. This thing was a guaranteed lawsuit generator.

Airbnb focused on the fear of NIMBY neighbor feuds in its ad campaigns, warning it would lead people to spy on each other and sue. It also engaged in a bus shelter ad campaign that was considered "controversial" and which they eventually apologized for that suggested ways the city should spend the $12 million in hotel taxes Airbnb was paying the city, like keeping the libraries open later. Apparently it is considered poor form to remind the government that the money they forcibly take from you is supposed to be used to provide services.

Whatever the cure for San Francisco's housing crisis is, this clearly isn't it. The outcome, as always when the government tries to ban people from doing something they want to do, would have been a black market. These rentals would continue in secret and the city wouldn't even get its cut. (This may partly explain why so many local Democratic leaders and groups opposed Prop. F.)

People probably assume the well-known NIMBY-ism of San Franciscans is keeping new housing development at bay, but actually as of July there's been thousands of new units approved for construction. The market will provide, eventually, if the government allows it.

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  1. Proposition F would have been a lawsuit factory for NIMBY neighbors.

    Plaintiffs’ lawyers haz a sad.

  2. But Airbnb was the only thing standing between San Francisco and people being able to afford to live there!

  3. If only the courts would enforce the Constitution’s prohibition of regulatory takings without just compensation, this POS (and any attempt to revive it) would be kaput.

  4. It also engaged in a bus shelter ad campaign that was considered “controversial” and which they eventually apologized for that suggested ways the city should spend the $12 million in hotel taxes Airbnb was paying the city, like keeping the libraries open later.

    They lost a lot of respect from me when they apologized for this. Fucking pussies.

    1. Why did they apologize? AFAICT, there was no moral or even business reason to do so.

    2. I hate any program that they use to target longer hours from libraries because you know it will never be eliminated.

      The county tax we have locally to pay for the Twins stadium boondoggle raises more money each year than needed to service the bonds/loans. Do we use the extra to pay the debt off sooner? NO.

      Instead the surplus funds longer library hours and youth athletics for inner city kids. That means that even after the stadium is paid off, we won’t get rid of the tax because of THINK OF THE KIDS!!!

    3. It’s disrespectful to criticize the government that is trying to regulate you out of business.

  5. According to the LA Times commentariat, big business has won again. Apparently, everyone who rents out a home they own for a weekend are ‘BIG CORPORASHUNZ’ and the people they rent to are always insane party animals who terrorize the neighbors. Also, if not for Airbnb, rent would be affordable in SanFran. Airbnb, proggie utopia ruined once again by BIG BUSINESS.

    Big business wins again

    1. Any unregulated commerce, even between two individuals, is big business. Duh.

      /derp

      1. What’s even more insane is the fact that apparently we’re supposed to believe that big businesses, you know like hotel chains, were not on the side of this proposition. It was just the little people once again trampled down by big business.

        1. Yeah, they are real suckers and get it completely backwards. They rail against big business and then support onerous regulation of everything that makes it impossible for anyone but big businesses to function.

  6. What is a paleo-compliant muffin made of? Ground up mammoth bones?

    1. Ground up mammoth bones and fossilized blueberries.

  7. Apparently it is considered poor form to remind the government that the money they forcibly take from you is supposed to be used to provide services

    Hotel taxes are traditionally an agreed-to levy by the local hotel and tourism industry because that money is earmarked for marketing the region to visitors or building convention centers that bring in business travelers, which in turn benefits those hotels and private sector tourism entities with more visitors and “heads in beds.”

    It’s not for general budget spending. Otherwise, you’d be levying a special tax on hotel customers, and them only, for local spending line items. Why should only the hotels have that tax, then, and no other businesses?

    1. Apparently it is considered poor form to remind the government that the money they forcibly take from you is supposed to be used to provide services

      Well, the little that is left after paying the salaries of a constantly expanding army of highly paid and unaccoutable bureaucrats. And of course, some just disappeared because no one’s perfect, mistakes were made, move on, nothing more to see here.

    2. That might be the theory, but my guess is that in practice most of the money gets diverted to the general fund, just as with gas tax revenue.

  8. I guess 55-45 is pretty good in SF. Still, 45% of those who voted think it’s OK for them to tell other people what to do with their property.

    1. What’s even dumber is that they vote to take more economic autonomy away from themselves and hand it over to the local government. Like all proggies, they’re more concerned with taking away your rights than protecting their own. I mean, they can already be gay and have abortions, what more rights does anyone really need?

    2. Oh, I bet 90% of them think it’s OK to tell people what to do with their property. Most just didn’t think it was OK to tell people that they couldn’t do this particular thing with their property.

      1. ^ so much this

  9. After a long day at work yesterday the only reason I bothered to spend the 15 minutes of my life that the voting process took was to vote against this crap measure and vote out the proggie Sheriff who can’t even possess a gun. Glad they both lost.

  10. I lived in SF for a time (85-91) and I saw lots standing empty for years before anything was built on them.

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    http://www.4CyberWorks.Com

  12. Personally, I prefer San Francisco enacting all the stupid laws they can, just to see what happens.

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