San Francisco Airbnb Law and Non Profit Enforcement

San Francisco recently passed it's AirBnB law and latest additions now have Supervisor Jane Kim introducing private right to sue provisions

Here's a few things you should know about this 'private right to action' addendum and it is true that it's very similar to the San Francisco Hotel Demolition and Conversion Ordinance passed in 1980 and the private right to sue added in 1990

While it says any private party can sue for damages, only one non profit has actually ever used it and pursued hotel owners, and that is Randy Shaw and Tenderloin Housing Clinic

For weeks, Wiener and Chiu seemed unable to distinguish between a “drive-by” ADA lawsuit and the type of cases routinely brought under California’s Private Attorney General Statute, Code of Civil Procedure Section 1021.5. They also disregarded the fact that no problem with frivolous lawsuits has occurred since the city’s Hotel Conversion Ordinance gave nonprofits the right to sue nearly 25 years ago.

- Randy Shaw in todays latest post about the new AirBnB law

It's not Weiner that's confused, this is Randy Shaw trying to confuse the public on his own blog (which is funded by proceeds from these very same lawsuits). This isn't about ADA (disability access lawsuits) or Code of Civil Procedure Section 1021.5 (recovery of attorneys fees which is statewide and involves many different types of lawsuits)

This is about San Francisco's special provision San Francisco Administrative Code Chapter 41A, which is never mentioned in Randy Shaws blog post. Specifically section D which allows for penalties. Also posted on Socketsite two years ago when Chiu first introduced the AirBnB legistlation

(d) Civil Action. Following the filing of a complaint and the determination of a violation by the Director through an administrative review hearing as set forth in this Chapter 41A any interested party may institute proceedings for injunctive and monetary relief. In addition, the owner or business entity may be liable for civil penalties of not more than $1,000 per day for the period of the unlawful rental. If the City or the interested party is the prevailing party, the City or the interested party shall be entitled to the costs of enforcing this Chapter, including reasonable attorneys’ fees, up to the amount of the monetary award, pursuant to an order of the Court. Any monetary award obtained by the City and County of San Francisco in such a civil action shall be deposited in the Mayor’s Office of Housing, Housing Affordability Fund less the reasonable costs incurred by the City and County of San Francisco in pursuing the civil action.

In this same above quote Randy Shaw claims there were no reports of any frivolous lawsuit activity. This is not what the owners and neighbors of the Ocean Beach Motel were saying. That was at best described as Randy Shaw abusing this very same 'private right to action' clause, which Tenderloin Housing Clinic lost, in court. Also described as a bully

The most recent lawsuits filed by Tenderloin Housing Clinic actually describes tourists as a public nuisance, this based in a city where tourism is the #1 industry

The original law passed in 1990 that allowed Tenderloin Housing Clinic to seek monetary damages, which provides monetary incentive for Randy Shaw to keep suing, was previously restricted to larger SRO hotel owners. But if this new AirBnB addendum passes, it will no longer be large hotel owners, but small apartment/house owners with 3 units or more. This will open up thousands of new possibilities for Tenderloin Housing Clinic to cash in which is why Randy Shaw is making a big deal about it on Beyondchron

The problem is because the new lawsuit targets will be much smaller, there will likely be an increase in bankruptcies and individuals losing their own homes because they rented on AirBnB and possibly violated one of the provisions. The potential for abuse will be much higher because any neighbor who doesn't like what another neighbor is doing on AirBnB can simply call Randy Shaw and he'll take it from there, because now there's dollar signs dangling

Time will tell how it plays out, but I'm predicting political backlash once the lawsuits get going because this will involve much more everyday people than before

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