Airbnb continues to grow supply amid legal restrictions

Joining other cities that are becoming more critical of home-sharing operators such as Homeaway, the citizens of San Fracisco turned out yesterday in support of a measure to impose restrictions on short-term rentals in the city.

According to Time, the measure, known as Proposition F, is scheduled to go to vote in November. Airbnb has spent more than $8 million opposing the measure, which will limit the options of the home-sharing operator after the practice was legalized in the city in February of this year. Citizens told Time that home sharing is "cannibalizing" possible home purchases in favor of renting to tourists. Meanwhile, local lawmaker David Campos told Time that of the 10,000 home-sharing listings in the city, only 700 hosts have completed paperwork to register themselves with the city and begin paying hotel taxes.

In an email to TIME, Airbnb said, "We are happy to work with governments to help the community pay their fair share of taxes. Prop. F is a misguided, divisive measure that would create financial incentive for neighbors to spy on one another, file frivolous lawsuits, and require San Franciscans to report where they sleep each night. We need to continue giving the current law, passed by the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors last year, time to work."


Pope Francis' recent visit to the U.S. was expected to create high guestroom demand, and higher room prices, but increased Airbnb listings resulted in lower than expected results. The Wall Street Journal reported that Airbnb listings in New York City reached nearly 20,000 during the visit, adding to the city's existing 116,000 rooms and increasing supply by roughly 17 percent. Philadelphia also saw a nearly 16-percent increase in supply during the Pope's visit, roughly 7,000 more rooms, though Washington, D.C., saw only a 2.5-percent increase.

"I would be surprised if a lot of visitors didn’t look at the alternatives for overnight accommodations," Jay Shah, CEO of Hersha Hospitality Trust, told The Wall Street Journal. "This is the kind of event where you will have an impact from Airbnb."

While some brands feel they have a plan to avoid seeing their occupancy take a hit from the industry's newest disruptors, a report from Reuters shows that Airbnb is on track to double its bookings this year -- reaching 80 million. Airbnb does not disclose nightly bookings and refused to comment on the figure, which was released by investors who declined to be named.

This dwarfs the estimates released by investment bank Piper Jaffray, which according to Reuters expected the service to record 61 million bookings in 2015.