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Here We Go: Lawsuit Filed Against City's Airbnb Law

Scott Lucas | November 3, 2014 | Story Politics

They say that the sign of a good compromise is that nobody receives everything that they wanted. The trouble is, if the parties don't get enough of what they wanted, they can upset the whole thing. Speaking of which: The first legal challenge to San Francisco's new law regulating Airbnb and other home-sharing services was filed today.

From the beginning, the law was, put it mildly, a bit controversial. And now, the home sharing service HomeAway is charging that the bill (which Mayor Ed Lee signed into law last week) was written to favor Airbnb's business model over those of its rivals, and is asking a judge to strike two provisions of it before it goes into effect on February 1st.

Carl Shepherd, co-founder of HomeAway, blasted the law in a statement. "In its apparently single-minded goal to 'legalize Airbnb,' we claim the Supervisors ignored the benefits of responsibly regulating a well-established industry, and embraced an unconstitutional and unenforceable regulation." HomeAway is opposed to two provisions in the law: One that limits the number of days that listers may rent out space, and another that requires hosting companies to collect the city's hotel tax. Both of those provisions, says HomeAway, were written to benefit Airbnb at the expense of other firms.

Airbnb's competition isn't the only group opposed to the new law. Progressives, concerned about back taxes and diminished housing supply, have been rallying around the candidacy of Supervisor David Campos, who is running a tight race against Supervisor Chiu David, the author of the law, and are organizing a ballot initiative that could go up for a vote next year.

There's a certain irony here: By staking out the middle ground, Lee and Chiu open themselves up to hits from both sides. How deep is the damage? Should be an interesting election night.

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