Why San Francisco Voters Crushed Ån Anti-Airbnb Proposition

This post appears courtesy of the Ferenstein Wire, a syndicated news service. Publishing partners may edit posts. For inquiries, please email author and publisher Gregory Ferenstein.

Early election results suggest that San Franciscans have voted to reject a law limiting Airbnb’s reach in the city. Proposition F would have significantly curtailed the use of so-called short-term rentals in the city to just 75 days. The sharing economy giant reportedly spent an astounding $8 million to defeat the proposal.

(The vote currently stands at 55% against to 45% in favor, and while the city’s Department of Elections will update the count, it’s very unlikely to shift dramatically enough to change the outcome.)

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It’s a battle that other cities are keeping a close eye on, as the business expands into other regions. (According to its website, it’s already in 190 cities around the world.) Had the measure been successful, it could have encouraged copycat regulations elsewhere. 

The long-term effects of the sharing economy on a local housing market are yet to be seen, but in the meantime, arguments pour in from both sides of the issue—and many residents appear to be siding with Airbnb. 

Fear Of Sharing

Critics of Airbnb argue that short-term rentals take around 1,900 available units off the housing market in San Francisco, further exacerbating the city’s sky-high rental costs. 

Airbnb argues that short-term rentals are a necessary source of income helping residents stay in homes they otherwise could not afford. Voters apparently agreed with the latter argument, according to late night tallies from SFelections.org. At 55% to 45%, they seemingly reject Proposition F. (Note: Numbers subject to change and mail-in ballots can be counted later.) The results mirror polling conducted earlier this week by the Ferenstein Wire through Google Surveys (view survey results here).

In and of itself, Proposition F was a rather bold piece of proposed regulation. Not only did it target a specific tech company (Airbnb), but had it become law, the new rules would have granted neighbors expanded powers to sue to each other.

To be sure, the city is still about as liberal as they come. Early results indicate that voters did pass a new enhanced paternity leave policy for city employees (“Prop B”). But evidently, regulating what people do with their own homes goes one step too far.

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Lead photo by Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine

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