Thu, Nov 05, 2015 - Page 14 News List

San Francisco votes for Airbnb

AFP, SAN FRANCISCO

San Francisco voters on Tuesday rejected a measure that would have limited short-term housing rentals in their city in what was seen as a referendum on surging start-up Airbnb.

Voters rejected “Proposition F” 55 percent to 45 percent, according to results posted by the San Francisco Department of Elections.

NO LIMITS

The measure would have placed a 75-day limit per year for rentals under 30 days, regardless of whether the property is “hosted” or not — a significant change in the current law, which allows 90 days if the resident is absent, and places no limits on renting a “hosted” spare room.

Airbnb, a San Francisco-based online service allowing property dwellers and owners to rent out a room or entire home for short periods, would have been heavily affected if the law had passed.

Housing prices have been surging in recent years in the region around San Francisco and nearby Silicon Valley due to investment in tech start-ups.

Some former low-income San Francisco neighborhoods have been transformed by the arrival of highly paid tech workers.

According to the real estate Web site Zillow, the average San Francisco rent in September was US$4,390 per month, compared with less than US$3,000 five years ago and an average nationwide of US$1,386.

CRITICS

Airbnb critics claim that the service unfairly competes with hotels, which face stricter regulations and taxes.

Airbnb has been a major contributor to the “no” campaign, which raised US$8 million compared with just US$800,000 for the backers, according to figures released by the San Francisco Ethics Commission.

Airbnb, launched in 2008, operates in about 34,000 cities around the world and has about 40 million users.

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