S.F.'s Airbnb Collection Apathy - April 27, 2016 - SF Weekly
SF Weekly

S.F.'s Airbnb Collection Apathy

San Francisco-based Airbnb is increasingly popular among San Francisco homeowners and tenants. As of March, there were 7,047 hosts offering 9,448 listings in the city, up from 5,378 hosts and 7,029 listings in the fall. Much less popular are the city's regulations around Airbnb. For over a year, the city's Airbnb hosts have been required to register with the city. Out of that 7,047, only 1,747 have registered with the city's new Office of Short Term Rentals. That's annoying city legislators, some of whom unveiled a plan on Tuesday to start billing Airbnb for its inability to get its hosts to fill out paperwork.

The city has had little luck getting local Airbnb hosts to obey the law. And the city's ability to get penalized scofflaw hosts to pay up is also apparently limited.

As of Monday, the city had assessed $695,000 in penalties for Airbnb units breaking the law — such as offering too many unhosted stays, or using a housing unit as a full-time Airbnb — but had only managed to collect $160,000 of that.

“What's frustrating is that every time we try to offer more tools, the Mayor's Office says, 'We don't need them,' ” says Supervisor David Campos, a frequent Airbnb critic. “It's clear that they do.”

Whether an extra carrot or an extra stick would work best — or if they would both just be ignored — is unclear.