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Mayor Ed Lee vetoes Airbnb crackdown

New law would have limited homes to 60 days of annual short-term renting

An origami house with an Airbnb logo AlesiaKan /

When city legislators passed a law that would have limited Airbnb hosting to 60 days annually on November 29, they were just one vote short of a veto-proof super majority.

And now Mayor Ed Lee has indeed vetoed that new law.

In the veto notice sent to Board of Supervisors President London Breed (who proposed the new rule), Lee pointed out that San Francisco voters rejected STR limits by voting down Prop F last year.

Prop F failed on a 55-45 vote, on the same ballot that reelected Lee (by almost exactly the same margin).

Prop F would have limited STRs to 75 days a year. Lee argues that if most voters didn’t want an 11 week limit then, presumably they don’t want an even more restrictive cap now.

(Although Prop F would also have imposed a variety of other limits on Airbnb and its competitors too, including outlawing the Airbnbing of in-law units entirely, so it’s not necessarily an apples to apples comparison.)

Right now the city has a 90-day limit on unhosted rentals and no limit on the number of days you can list an occupied home on a site like Airbnb.

But it’s almost impossible to enforce those laws, because few hosts bother to register their rental, and the fledgling Office of Short Term Rentals can’t go after the thousands of scofflaws alone.

Among the “nay” votes that Breed would have to win over to beat the mayor’s veto is District Eight supervisor Scott Wiener, just left the board for a post in the state legislature.

But the mayor gets to pick Wiener’s short-term replacement, and presumably isn’t going to appoint any anti-Airbnb firebrands.

The November election slightly but crucially changed the political makeup of City Hall to one that will probably favor Lee’s style of development and tech-friendly policies, over the more skeptical approach usually adopted by last year’s majority.