The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, a tenants advocacy group, was voted a "local hero" by the San Francisco Bay Guardian before the paper shut down last October. It's a shame that the 48-year-old progressive institution isn't around to report on the project's latest map, which shows just how quickly and widely Airbnb's influence has spread.
The data visualization depicts the 6,788 vacation rentals listed on Airbnb and VRBO for San Francisco. There are currently 5,503 Airbnb listings, up from less than 5,000 last June and 1,800 in 2012, according to a previous investigation by the San Francisco Chronicle. In those two years, Airbnb's valuation has inflated from $2.5 billion to $13 billion.
The map was prepared in advance of new short-term legislation, nicknamed the "Airbnb law," that will be enforced starting February 1st. Housing rights advocates have called the legislation flawed and unenforceable. Critics also point out that the new rule let Airbnb skip out on an estimated $25 million in back taxes. (The company has raised $794 million in funding.)
Here is part of the statement AEMP released along with its new map:
The weakness of the legislation is hardly surprising given the inflexibility of the Airbnb lobby. [Former San Francisco Supervisor and current California state assemblyman] David Chiu, who authored the legislation, was rewarded for his efforts with a $750,000 independent expenditure on his behalf, and now heads to Sacramento while San Franciscans are left with his mess.
The Planning Department will be in charge of enforcement, but the agency has been hamstrung in several ways. Planning staffers must try to determine whether a host is present when a guest is staying (thus not subject to annual limits) or not present (and therefore subject to a 90-day cap). Airbnb refuses to share data about its hosts’ activities, which would greatly facilitate making this determination.
Furthermore, Airbnb does not require its hosts to prove that they have registered with the city before listing. The Planning Department will have to use its own staff and budget to try to sanction unauthorized listings, although it would be easier if hosting platforms refused to list unauthorized listings.
The new law requires San Francisco hosts to register with the Planning Department in person, so AEMP's concern about oversight seems prescient. Would you go through all this if you didn't think you'd get caught?
Planning said hosts must show original documents proving they are permanent residents and have been at their address for at least two months. Hosts must fill out an application; show a business registration certificate issued by the San Francisco treasurer and tax collector; sign an affidavit agreeing to comply with all provisions of the new law; and pay a $50 fee, which covers two years. Hosts cannot rent out more than one residence or rent out homes with any outstanding code violations.