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More Units in the Mission Are Rented on Airbnb Than Were Added in All of 2014

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Short-term rentals on the home-sharing platform Airbnb are keeping somewhere between 925 and 1,960 units off San Francisco's housing market, according to a report from the Board of Supervisors' budget and legislative analyst. Though that quantity makes up a small portion of the total rental market—somewhere between 0.4 and 0.8 percent—it takes a more substantial bite out of the city's vacant housing stock. Of the 244,012 units that were on the rental market in 2013 (the latest census figures available), 8,438 units were vacant, meaning that Airbnb's presence could be removing between 11.0 and 23.2 percent of vacant rentals from the market. Two neighborhoods where Airbnb makes the highest impact are the Haight/Western Addition and the Mission District, according to the report, which analyzed the 6,113 San Francisco listings posted on Airbnb in December 2014. In the Mission, for instance, 199 full-unit rentals were listed on Airbnb in December. That's more than double the 85 units the Mission added to its housing stock in all of 2014, according to the Planning Department.

The report, which was requested by Supervisor David Campos, analyzes only Airbnb, because data from other companies, such as VRBO, was unavailable. But the budget analyst still had to do some guesswork, since Airbnb isn't known for being forthcoming with its data. The proportion of vacant rentals affected—the rather broad range from 11 to 23.2 percent—is generated by different sets of assumptions about how to interpret the data scraped from Airbnb.

The report attempts to distinguish between casual hosts (who live in their homes and whose participation on Airbnb wouldn't affect the housing market) and commercial hosts, defined as users who list on Airbnb as an alternative to finding a roommate, renting the unit long-term, or selling. In the primary scenario the report considers, commercial hosts are defined as people who rented entire units for 59 nights or more, or who rented private and shared rooms within apartments for 89 nights or more.

In the Mission, the report estimates, just over 29 percent of the vacant housing stock is being rented by commercial hosts on Airbnb. In the Haight/Western Addition, that proportion rises to nearly 32 percent.

The report also looks at the number of evictions in neighborhoods with the most hosts, though the relationship could be coincidental rather than causal, as the Examiner notes. The Mission, for instance, had both the highest number of hosts (315) and the most evictions (323).

The report recommends requiring short-term rental sites to share booking information quarterly to aid notoriously difficult enforcement, and to limit the sites to listing units that are registered with the city. It also suggests capping unhosted stays and allowing Planning to fine services that list unregistered units.

In the next few days the Board of Supervisors Land Use and Economic Development Committee is slated to vote on how to amend the short-term rental ordinance that took effect February 1.

A potential ballot measure that includes some versions of these stipulations has been filed with the city, reports SocketSite.

· Analysis of the Impact of Short-Term Rental on Housing [BOS]
· Airbnb Rentals Cut Deep into SF Housing Stock, Report Says [SF Examiner]
· SF Added More New Housing in 2014 Than It Has in 20 Years [Curbed SF]
· 2014 Housing Inventory (PDF) [SF Planning]
· Ballot Measure to Restrict Airbnb Activity in San Francisco Filed [SocketSite]

Airbnb HQ

99 Rhode Island Street, San Francisco, CA 94103