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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Airbnb Puts a Number to the Tax Revenue SF Stands to Lose by Capping Rentals

Posted By on Wed, Jul 22, 2015 at 10:39 AM

click to enlarge SU-MAY/FLICKR
  • Su-May/Flickr
Airbnb has been on a charm offensive rampage the past several weeks. Between sponsoring Pride with a mobile pop-up (which one observer likened to “homespun Americana horseshit”), producing heartwarming, pro-homeshare ads, nobly comparing itself to Ellis Island, and plastering passive-aggressive PSAs around the city, Airbnb wants you to know it’s great for San Francisco.

Now, as Recode reports, Airbnb has put a figure to that sentiment: $58 million. That’s how much tax revenue the city stands to lose over the next decade if it approves a ballot measure capping Airbnb rentals at 75 days per year. That’s according to Airbnb’s own calculations, anyway.

“Home sharing is an economic lifeline for thousands of San Franciscans who depend on the extra income to stay in their homes,” an Airbnb spokesperson told Recode. “This ballot initiative would make it even harder for middle class families to stay in San Francisco and pay the bills.”

In November, voters will decide whether to pass that measure, which, in addition to capping rentals, also prohibits renting out in-law units and permits neighbors to sue each other for illegally listing units. (SF Weekly recently reported on a new service, Building Snitch, that seeks to streamline the process of filing and vetting complaints).

Recode quotes Dale Carlson of Sharebetter SF, an advocacy group that campaigns against illegal short-term rentals, who notes that the businesses that keep San Francisco vibrant aren’t those patronized by tourists. Neighborhood dry cleaners, for example, aren’t likely to attract many out-of-towners.

A Chronicle investigation recently reported that 6.4 percent of Airbnb’s listings appear to be full-time, illegal rentals. (The investigation did not include other homesharing services such as HomeAway and VRBO.)

Airbnb is currently expanding its Business Travel program, making it easier for entire companies to book short-term rentals.

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Jeremy Lybarger

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