Oh so classy!
I mean, what could be classier?
Take that, Paris!
Airbnb is pulling out all the stops here.
Let me just say that first of all, no “minor” violations of San Francisco’s short term rental laws will result in anything like a $435K award. Sorry. And also, by the time any “awards” are handed out, said violations are no longer merely “alleged,” but actually proven.
And now, on with the show:
“Noted Law Firm Browne George Ross LLP Provides Review of Legal Impacts of San Francisco’s Prop. F
Proposition F creates a profit-motivated private right of action even if the City and County of San Francisco finds no violation.
WELL, LET’S SEE HERE. A PRIVATE RIGHT OF ACTION ALREADY EXISTS, RIGHT? YEP. WHAT PROP F ADDS ON TOP OF THIS IS AN ADDITIONAL PENALTY OF $250-$1000 A DAY, ASSUMING THAT THE RESIDENTS BRINGING SUIT ACTUALLY WIN. THE REASON THAT THIS ACTION WOULD BE ALLOWED INDEPENDENT OF WHAT SFGOV DOES IS THAT SOMETIMES SFGOV LIKES TO SIT ON ITS HANDS AND DO NOTHING, SIMILAR TO THE WAY THAT IT’S DONE VERY LITTLE TO REGULATE SHORT TERM RENTALS THE LIKES OF WHICH WE’VE BEEN SEEING THE PAST TEN YEARS, AND, IN FACT, THE LITTLE THAT SFGOV HAS BEEN DOING LATELY WAS SPURRED ON BY THE PROSPECT OF PROP F. SO ACTUALLY, PROP F IS GOOD BECAUSE IT’S ALREADY PAYING OFF. AND, AS FAR AS “PROFIT-MOTIVATED” IS CONCERNED, SOMETHING SIMILAR IS ALREADY IN CALIFORNIA LAW REGARDING LANDLORD REFUNDS OF RENTAL DEPOSITS. SO IF A LANDLORD IMPROPERLY RETAINS AN APARTMENT SECURITY DEPOSIT, THE TENANT CAN SUE FOR NOT ONLY THE WRONGFULLY RETAINED PART BUT ALSO AN AMOUNT DOUBLE THE DEPOSIT AS A KIND OF SPECIAL DAMAGES. SO A LANDLORD’S MOUTHPIECE COULD ARGUE THAT THE TENANT SUING IS “PROFIT-MOTIVATED,” BUT THAT WOULDN’T ACTUALLY BE TRUE, RIGHT? AND IN FACT, THIS RENTAL DEPOSIT REFUND LAW SCARES LANDLORDS INTO DOING THE RIGHT THING, SO THAT NO LEGAL ACTION EVER NEEDS TO GET KICKED INTO ACTION. SEE HOW THAT WORKS?
In other words if someone wishes to sue their neighbor even after the city and County of San Francisco has determined there is no violation, an unscrupulous individual can still file a lawsuit and simply claim damages amounting to as much as $435,000 plus attorneys’ fees and costs.
WELL, THIS LOS ANGELES-BASED LAW FIRM IS SIMPLY ASSUMING THAT THE PROPERTY OWNER USING AIRBNB OR WHATEVER TO VIOLATE OUR LAWS WOULD BE A NEIGHBOR OF THE SAN FRANCISCO RESIDENTS AFFECTED. BUT LOTS OF AIRBNBERS DON’T EVEN LIVE IN SF, RIGHT? SO IT’S RATHER MORE RESIDENT SUING AIRBNBER AS OPPOSED TO “NEIGHBOR SUING NEIGHBOR,” RIGHT? AND HEY, HOW CAN AN “UNSCRUPULOUS INDIVIDUAL” GET AN ATTORNEY TO REPRESENT THEM IN THE FIRST PLACE, RIGHT? AND HEY, “NOTED” LA LAW FIRM WHAT I’VE NEVER HEARD OF AFORE, HAVE ANY OF YOU EVER REPRESENTED AN “UNSCRUPULOUS INDIVIDUAL?” HMMM… THAT’S SOMETHING TO THINK ON. IN ANY EVENT, UNSCRUPULOUS INDIVIDUALS WITH WORTHLESS CASES WON’T WIN AT COURT SO THEY WON’T GET ANY DAMAGES AT ALL, RIGHT? AND LET ME JUST SAY, ANY AIRBNBER WHO ACTUALLY ENDS UP PAYING $435K PLUS HAS REALLY REALLY REALLY SCREWED UP. THESE WILL BE UNIQUE PEOPLE, CERTAINLY.
Because litigation is so incredibly expensive, time consuming and stressful many people will pay to get out of suits even though they have done nothing wrong.
BOY, WHAT A PITCH FROM A LAW FIRM – YOU DON’T NEED US, JUST PAY ALL THE MONEY ANYBODY EVER ASKS FOR AND THEN WAIT FOR THE NEWS TO SPREAD AND THEN GET SUED AGAIN AND AGAIN. AND NOTE HERE, I’M NOT ARGUING THAT PROP F IS GOOD FOR AIRBNBERS (ALTHOUGH IT MIGHT ACTUALLY BE GOOD FOR SOME) – I’M SAYING THAT PROP F IS GOOD FOR SAN FRANCISCO. AND ACTUALLY, PROP F WOULD BE GOOD FOR LOS ANGELES LAW FIRMS, POSSIBLY, IF LA-BASED AIRBNBERS GET SUED IN SF AND THEY WANT TO HAVE A LOCAL ATTORNEY, THEN MAYBE EVEN THIS LA FIRM COULD GET IN ON THE ACTION.
Proposition F will exponentially exacerbate the problem by encouraging an untold number of new lawsuits, thus delaying even more those who appropriately seek justice through San Francisco Superior Court
WELL LET’S SEE HERE. PROP F WILL BE BUT A DROP IN THE BUCKET AS FAR AS SF SUP CT IS CONCERNED. IT’S NOT GOING TO EXPONENTIALLY DO ANYTHING.
Anywho, I sort of asked for somebody to tell me why Prop F is bad right here, so I’ll read through this and respond, you know, in real time.
1. So Prop F is worse than I think? So you think I think it’s bad, but you’re here on Medium telling me that it’s even worse than I think it is? Well, that’s not right at all. I think Prop F is great.
2. So like I’m not responsible for what signature gatherers say, right? ‘Nough said. Should I point out how Airbnb says/does similar things? OK then.
3. Yes, STR’s are already regulated by SFGov, but poorly. That’s why we have the Prop F, to fix what they call regulatory capture.
4. Airbnb-type outfits are the primary problem, right? I’ll concede that there are others out there. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t regulate Airbnb, right? Airbnbers oppose Prop F because, unlike the current regs, it wasn’t written with input from Airbnb itself. Like, should VW write our air pollution laws?
5. Well, Prop F isn’t the worst way to go about things. A worser way to regulate Airbnb is to have Airbnb write the rules what cover Airbnb’s business, right? What we’ve had so far from Supervisor Chiu has been a disaster, right? And then our dominant political faction assumed that something like Prop F wouldn’t make the ballot. And that takes us up to now. Hey, let’s take a look:
“After Mayor Lee and the Board of Supervisors screwed up short-term rental legislation not once but twice, voters now face a choice: keep current law or replace it with Prop F. Those upset over “ballot box planning” should blame City Hall for not enacting the handful of changes that would have either prevented Prop F from going to the ballot or ensured its defeat.”
6. Uh, is it “really hard to find the text online,” like actually? Uh no. Google “PROP F SF” and then after you click on the first hit, click on THE MEASURE. Easy peasy, huh, LIAR?
7. “It’ll blow your mind.” O rly? We’ll see. Hey, you know, my mind’s already blown by the number of meetings that David Chiu’s office had with Airbnb reps to create the first unworkable regs – is it 60 fucking meetings? 60 meetings to create an unworkable mess? Mind blown. Already.
8. So, you promise us Prop F but now you’re coming in with how it’s existing hotels what don’t want private Airbnb hotels in the Parkside. Let’s see, who’s against Prop F – it’s Airbnb and the superhosts, right? As expected, right? (And I’m thinking your hotel worker union types would be big Prop F boosters as well.)
9. You know, some Airbnbers who let out rooms support Prop F, right? Are they crazy?
10. I’ll field this one. Cleaning a house before guests arrive is not assisting anyone to offer a short term rental.
11. Well, if your neighbor “prevails,” then your neighbor gets money. If you neighbor doesn’t prevail, then not. Simple. You’re missing the “prevailing” part, Mediumer.
12. And if a taxi driver refuses to pick you up because s/he doesn’t like your color, creed, whathaveyou, that’s a misdemeanor too, right? Laws need to have teeth, right?
13. Yep, a quarterly report. No biggee, it would seem.
14. So let’s see here, illegal in-law units shouldn’t be on Airbnb, right? Is this so surprising?
15. What Airbnb should do is keep track of its own rentals, for a start, huh? Shouldn’t be too hard.
16. People will still be able to Airbnb after Prop F passes, right? But Prop F should really put the hurt on Airbnb hotel buildings.
17. Prop F can totally be fixed, if necessary, by a judge or two or more, or by a vote of The People. Yes, we can visit this issue again later.
18. What’s this?! “I have been a part-time homesharer in SF since last year.” This should have been the first line of your bit, non? Ah, man, I don’t think I would have read your whole bit if you had been upfront about your conflict of interest. And why is my Google Chrome underlining “homesharer?” Oh that’s right, it’s because you made it up. Let’s try something else, something honest, like “room letter.” See? No underlining. Case closed.
19. Oh, this Medium bit is ending abruptly, after the Big Reveal. All right, yeah, well, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.
I looked for signs like these afore, but didn’t see them.
Now, in mid-September, I’m seeing them – that’s the update:
“Prior to February 2015, the city banned private, short-term rentals, but did not dedicate sufficient resources to fully enforce the law.”
Yep, pretty much.
Here’s a new update on this sitch.
“Herrera subpoenas Trinity over rent-controlled apartments used as ‘SOMA Suites Hotel’
“After request for cooperation is met ‘with obfuscation and deflection of responsibility,’ City Attorney moves to compel production of evidence in housing investigation
“SAN FRANCISCO (Sept. 8, 2015) — City Attorney Dennis Herrera today formally subpoenaed documents and information relating to the apparently illegal use of Trinity Place residential units — including at least 16 rent-controlled apartments — for tourist accommodations as “The SOMA Suites Hotel.” The administrative subpoenas served on Trinity’s ownership and a single lessee of some 23 dwellings comes after a month of “repeated, unsuccessful attempts” by Herrera’s office to gain voluntary cooperation in a City Attorney investigation of potentially unlawful and unauthorized uses of the properties at 1188 and 1190 Mission Street.
Herrera initially requested cooperation from developer Angelo Sangiacomo and his legal counsel in an Aug. 5, 2015 letter that sought a full account of the uses of residential units authorized under the city’s 2007 agreement for the Trinity Plaza Development Project (since renamed Trinity Place). But the request was instead met “with obfuscation and deflection of responsibility,” according to a letter from Herrera that accompanied his subpoena to compel Trinity’s production of requested evidence.
“I find your responses on behalf of your clients particularly difficult to accept given the nature and history of the properties,” Herrera wrote to Trinity’s attorney, Andrew Wiegel. “The Trinity Plaza Development Project permitted your client to build high-density, largely residential buildings that, among other things, would preserve 360 units of rent-controlled housing. The benefits of those units that your client committed to provide in the Development Agreement continue to be critically important to the City, especially at a time where the paucity of affordable housing is driving out long-term residents, disrupting communities, and altering the very fabric of our City. Leasing a number of those units to the same individual, under the facts and circumstances we believe to have been the case, violates the letter and spirit of the Development Agreement, and the conditions of approval for the Project.”
A primary focus of the investigation Herrera identified in his letter is the developer’s business relationship with Catherine Zhang and her company, LUMI Worldwide. According to evidence so far established in the City Attorney investigation, Trinity Management Services entered into leases with Zhang for 16 apartments, each subject to rent-control, and each exclusively intended for residential occupancy. Apart from recognizing the obvious — that a single individual can’t simultaneously reside in 16 apartments — Trinity’s management knew that Zhang was subleasing the rent-controlled units, according to Herrera, in apparent violation of its own lease provisions expressly forbidding subletting, and its development agreement with the city. The arrangement may also violate state and local law.
“Leasing a number of those units to the same individual, under the facts and circumstances we believe to have been the case, violates the letter and spirit of the Development Agreement, and the conditions of approval for the Project,” Herrera wrote. “For these reasons, you have left me no choice but to formally subpoena this information.”
Apart from the 16 rent-controlled apartments at 1188 Mission Street (where “The SOMA Suites Hotel” is located, according to its marketing content), another seven Trinity Place apartments at neighboring 1190 Mission Street were also leased to Zhang for concurrent and overlapping periods. Evidence indicates that Zhang similarly subleased those apartments to tourists for short-term stays. Although none of the apartments at 1190 Mission Street is subject to rent-control, the use of dwellings in both buildings is restricted to residential housing under terms of the 2007 development agreement and related City approvals. Herrera today served a similar administrative subpoena on Zhang and LUMI Worldwide.
Additional documentation from the City Attorney’s Office’s investigation is available at: http://www.sfcityattorney.org/.
(I’ll tell you, I don’t care what you do or where you rest your noggin at night. Fundamentally, I’m not a NIMBY – I don’t care what you do. I’ll admit I think it’s noteworthy when I spot Airbnb users in the Western Addition or the Sunset or wherever, ’cause they stand out (without realizing it) like a sore thumb, but I don’t have anything against tourists milling about, you know, per se. It’s funny, they ask me about parking laws. I try to help out. I tell them which way to curb their tires, ’cause a lot of them just don’t get it. And I’ll add that I know people who use Airbnb, and I know people who make some money letting rooms and units via Airbnb and the VRBO. But obvs I don’t own Airbnb options or anything and I’ll also note that I don’t own any hotels or anything.)
1. Limits short-term rentals to 75 nights per year, regardless of whether a ‘host’ is present
THIS LOOKS GOOD TO ME. THE WHOLE “HOST PRESENT” THING APPEARS TO BE A GIANT LOOPHOLE COOKED UP BY AIRBNB ITSELF IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE OFFICE OF SUPERVISOR DAVID CHIU. THE RULES THAT HE AND AIRBNB CAME UP WITH ARE A HUGE, UNWORKABLE MESS, IMO.
2. Requires quarterly reports to the Planning Department on the number of nights a unit is rented to tourists
IF YOU’RE RENTING OUT A ROOM OR A UNIT, YOU’D NEED A REGISTRATION NUMBER AND YOU’D NEED TO REPORT HOW MANY TIMES YOU DID IT EVERY THREE MONTHS. SOUNDS PRETTY SIMPLE TO ME. SOUNDS A LOT SIMPLER THAN, SAY, THE EXTRA WORK YOU’LL HAVE TO DO WHEN ANNUAL TAX TIME COMES. IF THIS IS TOO MUCH OF A BURDEN ON YOU, THE PERSON RENTING OUT ROOMS, PERHAPS YOU SHOULDN’T BE IN THIS BIDNESS?
3. Fines ‘hosting platforms’ (like Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeAway) for listing unregistered units
BAM. IF YOU HAVE A REG. NUMBER, YOU CAN LIST. IF YOU DON’T, YOU CAN’T.
4. Provides other building tenants, neighbors and neighborhood associations with notice when a unit is registered as a short-term rental
SO SFGOV WOULD SEND OUT A BRACE OF LETTERS EVERY TIME A UNIT GETS REGISTERED – THIS IS A ONE-TIME DEAL, RIGHT? AGAIN, DOES THIS SEEM SO UNREASONABLE?
5. Allows other building tenants & neighbors to go to court to protect their rights to the quiet enjoyment of their homes when the City fails to enforce the law
SO THERE ARE YOUR TEETH. THIS IS WHY AIRBNBER’S WILL ACTUALLY PAY ATTENTION TO SF PROP F 2015.
1. WELL, YEAH, I GUESS, AIRBNB – YOU COULD CHARACTERIZE THINGS THAT WAY. BUT LET’S SAY AN AIRBNBER FROM WALNUT CREEK BUYS A BUILDING IN SF AND THEN AIRBNBS ALL THE UNITS 365/366 DAYS A YEAR – THIS IS WHAT THE PROP F PEOPLE WOULD CALL “RUNNING A HOTEL.” IF I WERE SAID BUILDING OWNER LIVING IN WALNUT CREEK, I’D BE VERY AFRAID OF PROP F, SO I’D FOLLOW THE NEW RULES, RIGHT? IS THAT SO BAD?
2. WELL, I LIVE IN SF, AIRBNB. SO I DON’T THINK YOU’RE TALKING TO ME. BUT i’LL SAY THAT I THINK THE “DATA” WE’RE TALKING ABOUT IS HOW MANY TIMES A QUARTER AIRBNBERS ARE IN BUSINESS, SO NO BIG DEAL, RIGHT? SO FAR, YOU’RE NOT REALLY SCARING ME AWAY FROM PROP F HERE, AIRBNB. LET’S SOLDIER ON…
3. SFGOV AND AIRBNB HAVE MADE A HASH OF THIS PROCESS SO FAR. THE CURRENT SYSTEM ISN’T WORKING, SORRY. THIS IS WHY PROP F QUALIFIED FOR THE BALLOT, RIGHT?
4. HEY, AREN’T MOST IN-LAW UNITS IN TOWN ALREADY “BANNED?” I THINK SO. I THINK IT’S BECAUSE THEY AREN’T CODE COMPLIANT. WHY SHOULDN’T WE LEGALIZE THESE UNITS FIRST, IF THAT’S WHAT WE WANT TO DO, AFORE WE START WORRYING ABOUT HOW MUCH MONEY WE CAN MAKE OFF OF THEM? AND IF THIS IN-LAW ISSUE IS SUCH A BIG CONCERN A FEW YEARS DOWN THE ROAD AFTER THE POSSIBLE LEGALIZATION OF THESE UNITS, WELL, THEN WE CAN VOTE AGAIN, RIGHT? PERHAPS THIS WILL BE A BIT CUMBERSOME, BUT THAT’S WHAT YOU GET WHEN YOU HAVE A REGULATORY CAPTURE SUCH AS THE ONE WE’RE IN.
So, IDK, am I missing something here? What am I missing? Any beef anybody has against Prop F is displaced anger – the people who created the current situation are the ones responsible. Oh what’s that, Airbnb, you say the rules from Prop F are “too extreme?” Well, that’s because, unlike the current regs, you didn’t write them. See how that works, Airbnb? Perhaps you should have cooked up a fairer set of rules for yourself, and then Prop F never would never have gone on the ballot, right?
So tell me, Gentle Reader, what am I missing here?
Otherwise, I’m a-voting YES ON PROP F.
I’ll tell you, this blows me away:
“…Best Western Plus Americania recently posted rates of $460 a night.”
Isn’t that a tad pricy, you know, considering?
Anywho, Andrea M says:
This can’t be right, right?
It’s gotta be gnats, right?
Are bats attracted to humidity? One assumes not. But are gnats attracted to humidity? One assumes so.
Otherwise, bats, rats OR cats would be somewhat disturbing.
Almost as disturbing as the idea of paying $460 to stay a night (plus hotel tax, like 15%) (plus $30, for parking!) (plus hotel tax, like 15% on the parking fee) at a Best Western motel at 7th and Market…
Just released by the City Attorney’s Office
“Herrera demands answers from Trinity Place on tourist uses of rent-controlled dwellings – Investigation finds evidence that nearly two-dozen residential apartments—including 16 rent-controlled units—were apparently leased to tourists as ‘SOMA Suites Hotel’
SAN FRANCISCO (Aug. 6, 2015)—A major residential development project, hailed as “the Miracle of Mission Street” for overcoming years of opposition with promised benefits including 360 new apartments designated as rent-controlled, is facing scrutiny over apparently unlawful uses of residential dwellings for short-term tourist accommodations. City Attorney Dennis Herrera publicly acknowledged his office’s investigation into the potentially unlawful and unauthorized uses at 1188 and 1190 Mission Street in a letter delivered yesterday to Trinity Place developer Angelo Sangiacomo and counsel.
According to the letter, Herrera’s investigation found that at least 16 rent-controlled apartments, all intended as replacement units for residents at 1188 Mission Street, were instead leased to a single individual for the apparent purpose of marketing them as short-term tourist rentals. Another seven apartments in neighboring 1190 Mission Street were similarly leased to the same person for concurrent and overlapping periods, with evidence indicating those units were also then rented to tourists for short-term stays. Although apartments at 1190 Mission Street are not subject to rent-control, the required use of dwellings in both buildings is residential housing, under terms of the 2007 development agreement between Sangiacomo and the City and related City approvals.
The findings corroborate other evidence Herrera identified in his office’s investigation that Trinity Place dwellings have been marketed for transient occupancy as “The SOMA Suites Hotel,” an unincorporated and apparently unregistered entity that identifies its location to prospective hotel guests as 1188 Mission Street in San Francisco.
“For those of us who worked on the agreement, the full promise of Trinity Place wasn’t solely about 1,900 units of badly needed housing,” Herrera said. “It was also about proving that developers, city officials and the community could resolve differences creatively, and rise to the challenge of our housing shortage. What makes this apparent misuse so disappointing is that it betrays that promise on both counts. The conduct, if it is what it appears to be, reduces the number of apartments that should rightfully be available to San Francisco renters, and they undermine the trust necessary to make similar progress in the future. It’s my hope that Mr. Sangiacomo will appreciate the seriousness of this apparent wrongdoing. I hope, too, that he will cooperate with our investigation, and fully remedy all violations that may have occurred to restore the good faith and trust that made this project possible.”
Herrera’s letter requests the full cooperation of Sangiacomo and his agents in his office’s investigation, to thoroughly account for the uses of the rent controlled units and other residential units authorized under the Trinity Place development agreement since its execution. The letter specifically requests documents, contracts, leases and other information detailing financial relationships among Sangiacomo’s business interests and individuals and companies identified in Herrera’s investigation that appear to be involved in the short term rental violations.”
A little history here first. This was the Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria delivery map from a decade ago:
As you can see, the project-y parts of the Western Addition and Potrero Hill were no-go areas 24-7, while the Uptown Tenderloin / Twitterloin / 6th Street Corridor areas were no-go areas after dark.
Back then and even now, this kind of map is nice and legal, believe it or not. So, in Frisco, if a cabbie refuses to take you to The Projects (or even to The Avenues), s/he is guilty of a misdemeanor called Failure to Convey, but if a pizza deliverer refuses to bring food to the projects, well, that’s A-OK. Moving on….
To this, the map that’s been used for most of the past decade – it’s pretty much the same thing:
And now here are the current maps – first for the Mission Bay location on King Street:
Wow, this is much improved. The 6th Street part of the Twitterloin is back on the map as well as Potrero Terrace and Potrero Annex (those are per Jay Barmann – I am not familiar with these terms as I’ve never really been to the Potrero PJ’s area, the place where former Mayor Art Agnos got shot).
Of course it could be that Amici’s never delivers to these places – maybe it’s up to the individual drivers who are working at the time, IDK. Anyway, there’s nothing wrong with this map, you know, per se.
And now we come to the current map for the Marina District Amici’s:
Realize that there are smaller federal housing projects included in this map, but the areas carved out still include a broad swath of the Western Addition and, of course, the SRO-laden Northern Twitterloin containment zone.
So there you have it – redlining in San Francisco circa 2015.