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​Airbnb gets lucky, SF mayor vetoes bill with 60-day rental cap

The city's board of supervisors passed a bill that cracked down on the number of nights people could rent out their homes. The mayor just tossed it.

San Francisco's mayor has vetoed a bill that would've limited Airbnb rentals to 60 days a year.
De Agostini/Getty Images

San Francisco's mayor has decided to go easy on Airbnb.

The city's board of supervisors passed a bill in a 7-3 vote last month that ruled people could rent out their houses and apartments on Airbnb for only 60 days a year. On Thursday, Mayor Ed Lee vetoed the bill.

"I have concluded that this legislation will make registration and enforcement of our short-term rental regulations more difficult and less effective, and risks driving even more people to illegal rent units," the mayor said in his veto letter, according to the San Francisco Examiner. "Other cities have found balanced solutions, we can too."

Airbnb and San Francisco have a long history. The home rental site first launched its service in San Francisco in 2008 and the company still maintains its headquarters there. San Francisco was also one of the first cities in the world to work with Airbnb to make short-term rentals legal. As the home rental site has grown from a small startup to having more than 2 million listings in 191 countries, legislators worldwide have looked to San Francisco to set an example of how best to regulate the company.

The San Francisco bill, introduced by Board of Supervisors President London Breed, would have limited hosts from renting out their homes for more than 60 days per calendar year. Currently, people can rent rooms or their entire home for up to 90 days a year when they aren't around. Hosts present during home-stays are allowed to lease rooms year-round. Critics have said this structure makes it difficult for the city to enforce the law when people rent out their homes for more than 90 days.

"I'm disappointed, but the mayor has finally agreed to work with me and stakeholders to look at regulations and long-term solutions," Breed told the San Francisco Examiner. "We will develop a working group and make recommendations by the end of February 2017 to address some of the most challenging issues with this industry."

It's in Airbnb's interest to let people rent out their homes as much as possible. The company gets between a 9 and 15 percent cut from the cost of each rental. And as the company has raised more than $3 billion in funding, valuing it at $30 billion, it needs to show investors it can both be profitable and hammer out legal issues with regulators.

"We hope Airbnb, and our host community, will be included in the new working group," Airbnb Public Policy Manager David Owen wrote in email to CNET. "We remain committed to working with city leaders on solutions that protect housing and simplify the process to enable San Franciscans to share their homes."

Neither Breed nor Lee responded to requests for comment.