Airbnb opponents push for tougher laws in San Francisco

San Francisco’s new “Airbnb law” doesn’t take effect until Feb. 1, but opponents already preparing to ask voters to approve tougher regulations.

“We want to stop the city’s giveaway of our affordable housing to companies like Airbnb,” Sara Shortt, head of the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco, speaking at a press conference outside Airbnb’s San Francisco headquarters told SF Gate.

Waving signs and chanting slogans, a coalition of housing activists, landlords, unionized hotel workers and neighborhood groups gathered on a South of Market sidewalk last Monday to say they believe the new law won’t stop people from turning their homes into ad hoc hotels. Group leaders said they will soon start collecting signatures for a referendum on the November 2015 ballot to place more limits on the practice in San Francisco.

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“Renting rooms to tourists is not 'home sharing’; it’s renting,” said Roger Ritter, president of the West of Twin Peaks Central Council, which represents 20 neighborhood associations and homeowners associations.

San Francisco has long outlawed short-term rentals in private homes, but rarely enforced the ban until Airbnb’s rapid growth brought the issue to a head. Housing activists say lucrative vacation rentals divert much-needed permanent housing.

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