Airbnb Measure Rejected in San Francisco, But Short-Term Rental Opponents Stay Optimistic - NBC Bay Area
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Airbnb Measure Rejected in San Francisco, But Short-Term Rental Opponents Stay Optimistic

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Proposition F, which would have restricted Airbnb and other home share platforms, was rejected by San Francisco voters on Tuesday. Jean Elle reports. (Published Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015)

    San Francisco voters rejected Proposition F, widely known as the "Airbnb Law," by a margin of 55 percent to 45 percent, but the fight over short-term rentals seems far from over in the city.

    Supporters of the measure to impose more restrictions on short-term rentals said they might have lost the battle at the ballot box, but they're well on their way to winning the war.

    "The candidate they favored for the Board of Supervisors lost badly, so we'll take another shot at City Hall to see if we can't get something done," said Dale Carlson, a spokesman for "ShareBetterSF," the group behind Yes on F. "And if that doesn't work, we'll go back to the ballot."

    Carlson is referring to the victory of now Supervisor-Elect Aaron Peskin, who has been a supporter of Prop F since serious planning with the committee began about a year ago.

    "It's too soon to see what we'll talk to him about in terms of specifically changing the existing short-term rentals ordinance, but we'll certainly have that conversation soon," Carlson said.

    Airbnb isn't flinching. In fact, leaders are celebrating. The company invited journalists to its Brannan Street headquarters Wednesday morning to share more on what it dubbed a "people-to-people movement."

    "We feel really good about the results we saw last night," said Patrick Hannan, the No on Prop F campaign manager. "It was the culmination of a lot of folks' hard work. Over the course of the campaign, we had hundreds of volunteers."

    Hannan confirmed with NBC Bay Area that the campaign raised more than $8 million in the fight against the measure, exponentially outspending opponents, who said they spent roughly $400,000.

    "I wouldn't call winning by less than 10 points after spending $10 million a great victory, and it certainly doesn't dissuade us from carrying on the fight," Carlson said.

    "I think 10 points is a big win,” Hannan countered with a laugh. "and I think Dale is trying to put a good picture on what was a disappointing loss, but the fact of the matter is the voters of San Francisco spoke loud and clearly."

    Prop F would have imposed stricter regulations on short-term renting in San Francisco, replacing rules already put into place earlier this year. The cap on number of rental nights per year would have been 75, regardless of whether the host was home.

    Airbnb strategists pointed to company figures of more than 75 percent of home sharers in SF relying on the short-term rental cash flow to stay in their own homes.

    Prop F supporters counter that most listings are designated for tourists, taking away housing from the long-term residents and tenants of the city.

    "The notion that this is just mom-and-pop renting out the extra room is nonsense," Carlson said. "They like to hide behind those folks, but that's not what's going on."

    Carlson said the fight is far from over, and in fact, it's just beginning, even outside of San Francisco, home of Airbnb. He said he has talked to activists in many cities across the country who are discussing how to curb short-term rentals, including Portland, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C.

    Hannan said short-term rental advocates are ready.

    "We're going to take it one day at a time, but the fact of the matter is now we have 138,000 people who are part of the short-term rental community (in SF) now fired up, " he said. "They are politically engaged and ready to do whatever needs to be done to make sure short-term rentals are protected in San Francisco. "

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