Opponents seek changes in Airbnb legislation before big hearing

The broad and diverse coalition opposing Sup. David Chiu’s legislation to legalize and regulate Airbnb and other short-term housing rental companies — which the Board of Supervisors will consider tomorrow [Tues/7] — have boiled its many concerns down to three particular demands.

The coalition of tenant and landlord groups, affordable housing and neighborhood advocates, hotel workers and homeowners, and asundry other community leaders held another in a series of rallies on the steps of City Hall on Friday, again raising a variety of concerns.

But now, they’re penned a letter that has “three core recommedations.” The first is a call to limit rentals to 90 nights per year. That has been a feature of Chiu’s legislation from the beginning for unhosted rentals, given that it requires hosts to be permanent residents who live in their units at least 275 days per year, but the legislation still allows hosts to rent out a spare bedroom through Airbnb with few limits.

“If this is not done, the current proposal will allow year-round tourist rentals in every residential unit in the City which will drive up housing prices, create further economic incentive to increase evictions, further deplete housing stock for residents, and deteriorate the quality of life in our residential neighborhoods,” the coalition wrote in a letter to Chiu.

The supervisor had been a little cagey about the 90-day limit in the past, but when we pressed him on the issue during his endorsement interview with the Guardian last week, he confirmed that his legislation would allow spare bedrooms to be rented for more than 90 nights per year.

Chiu said his primary concern with the legislation was ensuring entire homes can’t be rented more than 90 nights per year, which he said was the main threat to the city’s rental housing stock, but he was open to amendments that would limit the rental of spare rooms, although that’s a practice he still wants to allow.

“We are grappling with the idea of what that balance is,” he told us.

The coalition is also asking for the legislation to explicitly ban short-term rentals of below-market-rate units and other affordable housing built with public subsidies. The third recommendation seeks to include “expedited private right of action” in the legislation, allowing neighbors and other third parties to file enforcement actions with the courts without waiting for city enforcement processes to slowly play out first.

That’s been a big problem recently as the San Francisco Tenants Union and other groups try to file lawsuits against landlords that have evicted rent-controlled tenants in favor of tourist rentals through Airbnb and other sites, but they’ve been prevented from doing so by foot-dragging in the Planning Department and Department of Building Inspection.

Members of this coalition will also present individual demands tomorrow, but the coalition also conveyed its opposition to supervisors approving this legislation tomorrow:

“We are unanimous in our position that the process being pursued by Supervisor Chiu is rushed. The City will live with the intended (and unintended) consequences of this legislation for many, many years. We implore you to amend the legislation with the recommendations articulated above, and as necessary postpone the Board hearing on this measure. This is one of the most important housing policy issues the City has faced in a decade, and the ‘solution’ by the Board of Supervisors must be done right and not hurried.”

The legislation will dominate the otherwise sparse agenda for tomorrow’s meeting, which starts at 2pm in City Hall. We’ll be live-tweeting the action, so follow along @sfbg or check back here for the full report.