In October, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors did something very smart; by a vote of 7 to 4, it made Airbnb legal.
In some ways, this was not news. The fact that the room rental service had been technically illegal in the city did not stop thousands of homeowners and travelers from taking advantage of the Internet platform. In fact, as many as 5,000 San Francisco rentals are available on Airbnb on any given day. But the short-term rentals were violating city laws that classified them as businesses and therefore not allowed in residential zones. The new law creates a safer environment for Airbnb users and will contribute millions to the city’s tax coffers.
San Francisco is an example other cities and states need to follow. They need to both clear a path for new entrants and protect the health and safety of consumers.
This does not mean following New York’s lead. The New York attorney general recently came down hard on Airbnb. A report from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, based on subpoenaed information, showed that 72 percent of all Airbnb listings in New York City are considered illegal under the state’s Multiple Dwelling Law or city zoning laws. Those rentals accounted for approximately
$304 million in revenue over the past four years. Furthermore, Airbnb is big business in New York where more than 100 renters own more than 10 units each and illegally generate millions of dollars in revenue.