November 20, 2014 by westsideneighborhoodalliance
U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) penned an op-ed for SFGate on Oct. 20 urging San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee to veto the so-called “Airbnb law,” which would “legalize short-term stays in private homes that are negotiated through a number of online reservation systems.”
“This is a shortsighted action that would destroy the integrity of zoning throughout San Francisco, allowing commercial and hotel use in residential areas throughout the city,” Feinstein wrote.
Feinstein called the legislation a “poor decision” that would erode the city’s strong zoning laws.
“As a former nine-year member of the Board of Supervisors and nine-year mayor, I know firsthand the merits of strong zoning laws,” Feinstein wrote. “They protect residential areas so they can support families and be free of commercial activities that are not related to neighborhood needs.”
“This home-sharing legislation blurs those lines and provides for residential housing to be leased out for hotel use,” she continued. “As such, those of us who value the residential character of our neighborhoods and are invested in the city’s quality of life will see all of this washed away by a blanket commercialization of our neighborhoods.”
Noting that San Francisco is already on of the most expensive cities in the country, Feinstein said the legislation would “encourage property owners and renters to vacate their units and rent them out to hotel users, further increasing the cost of living.”
“Simply put, this bill will further increase already sky-high rental costs,” she wrote.
Feinstein also noted that, “The tab for back taxes for Airbnb rentals alone is estimated at more than $25million,” since Airbnb rentals currently avoid the hotel tax that all other visitors to San Francisco pay in order to cover the cost of public services and amenities.
Despite criticism from Feinstein and others, Mayor Lee signed the legislation on Oct. 27.