AirBnb is suing the city of San Francisco to object a short term rental rule change set to take effect in late July.  The rule change would require all AirBnB hosts to register with the city or AirBnB would face a $1,000 a day for each listing not registered.

The proposed law change is after an April report suggested most of the rentals and hosts in San Fran were operating illegally because they were not in compliance with local law. San Francisco is the first city that AirBnB is suing despite legislation being passed in other cities to prohibit or limit the use of AirBnB. Similarly Chicago has already passed an ordinance that tacks on a 4% surcharge on short-term rentals and require hosts to register units. New York has regulations pending making it illegal for people to list their apartments for short-term rentals, as it is already illegal for people to rent fewer than 30 days in the state.

Arguments on both side propose strong catalysts for boosting economies in individual states and ultimately nationally. AirBnB believes that their service provides income alternatives, and in a failing housing market contributes to making mortgages affordable.  There are currently 8,440 listings on AirBnB for San Francisco, and with numbers like that it generates the question, “How many of those visitors would stay in hotels if AirBnB didn’t exist?”


Parked Conversion Van AirBnB in New York City

Officials looking to crack down on AirBnB regulations, subscribe to the very accurate theory that AirBnB takes the money out of hotels pockets, which in turn takes money out of the cities’ pocket, which spells B-A-D N-E-W-S if you’re a city official that likes money. Additionally, sketchy landlords in AirBnB cities with pseudo-serpentine business practices contribute to the disdain public officials have for AirBnB and short-term rental properties. The San Francisco law which would take effect July 27, would require every listing to pay a $50 registration fee and complete forms which are NOT available online. That’s right, the entire process is completely analog and requires you going to City Hall to write on paper. Surely this is a tact to discourage many, if not all hosts from completing the process.

The reality is, both parties are more than willing to invest their resources to fight for what they believe is right. While AirBnB is for the people, providing affordable lodging for vacationers and mortgage assistance for the homeowners and hosts, they directly deplete tax dollars that would be ordinarily given to hotels. Cities like Philadelphia with more relaxed short-term lease legislation have not discussed proposed legislation to tighten down on AirBnb use, while cities like Los Angeles have gone as far as filed suits against owners of three properties. Either way, it’s summer time and people are going to need a play to stay when they vacation. May the best man win.


Kevin ‘Ai-Que’ Smith II is a hip-hop artist, former educator, and co-Director of Philadelphia’s longest running Hip Hop event, The Gathering. As a English and History Education alum from the prestigious Lincoln University, PA Ai-Que also challenges the socio-cultural climate by fostering open dialogue and advocating for unity among underserved communities. He’s currently on a national music tour performing as a solo artist. Ai-Que’ explores hip-hop lifestyle, lyricism, politics, activism, technology and pop culture for OogeeWoogee.

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