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Airbnb Legislation Signed Despite Drama

The Board of Supervisors passed its long-debated Short-Term Residential Rentals Ordinance in October, which was duly signed by Mayor Edwin Lee Oct. 27 (see “Airbnb goes legit?” Marina Times, October 2014). The legislation, originally proposed by then Board President David Chiu, legalized and established regulation for the short-term rentals industry in the city, including requiring them to collect the hotel tax.

Protestors staged a demonstration outside Lee’s press conference, claiming that the legislation allowed San Francisco-based Airbnb to avoid $25 million in back taxes. Chiu said the bill was a good compromise. “We delivered a balanced solution that protects our housing from hotel conversion while allowing some flexibility for residents to help them afford to stay in their homes,” said Chiu, who is leaving the Board in December to take his Assembly seat in Sacramento.

The mayor was unapologetic about the law. “As the birthplace of the emerging, more sustainable sharing economy, San Francisco must be at the forefront of nurturing and regulating its growth by modernizing our laws and confronting emerging policy issues and concerns,” said Lee. “Now, San Franciscans who just want to share their home with occasional visitors will have a clear set of rules and restrictions to earn extra money to make ends meet and enjoy a better quality of life in our city for themselves and their families.” He said the new taxes will “bring millions of dollars … for affordable housing and other services.”

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