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San Francisco Moves Closer To Legalizing Airbnb, Other Short-Term Rentals

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — In an effort to regulate short-term rentals—made popular by services such as Airbnb, San Francisco passed its first legislative test Thursday at City Hall, where the planning commission gave tentative approval a controversial proposal after a four-hour long public hearing.

San Francisco Moves Closer To Legalizing Airbnb, Other Short-Term Rentals

The proposal, led by Board Of Supervisors President David Chiu, would require those offering short-term rentals to register with the City, have insurance and pay taxes. Short-term rentals in buildings with two or more units would be limited to up to 90 days.

Many who offer their homes, or space in within them, on Airbnb testified at the hearing.

"The home I purchased years ago in Bernal Heights to house me and my four children now has two empty rooms. And being able to provide those visitors looking for unique experiences helps me make ends meet," one woman said.

But there were those who said plan is not enough and that, as the ordinance is currently written, might encourage more short-term rentals leading to less affordable housing, already in short supply in San Francisco—where rents continue to soar amid the tech boom.

"There's no talk about back taxes; there's over $50 million of hotel tax that's due to this activity over the last two or three years," said one man who addressed the planning commission. "The legislation doesn't deal with the ADA (The Americans with Disabilities Act) accommodation requirements and it doesn't deal with the health and safety conditions that somebody has to meet."

There are five main hosting services that account for 80 percent of the total listings in San Francisco, including VRBO, Airbnb, HomeAway, Craigslist, and FlipKey.

The proposed ordinance could be voted on by the full Board of Supervisors next month, after they return from their August recess.

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