OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) --For the first time since San Francisco's so-called Airbnb law took effect, a property owner is asking the city to allow her to take rent-controlled units off the market so she can use them exclusively for short-term rentals. Neighbors aren't happy about it.
In a prime Nob Hill neighborhood, protest signs have gone up warning of a proposal to allow a hotel in their backyard.
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For decades, the owner of a 3-unit building has been renting all the apartments exclusively to tourists on the VRBO website, violating city law.
Alfonso Faustino lives next door to the property owner, Jennifer Solomon, and has filed complaints.
"Because it didn't go through the proper channels, she's been sneaking and taking away the opportunity for people to rent out the property," said Alfonso Faustino, a neighbor.
Solomon's now asking the San Francisco planning commission to technically allow her to have a hotel, basically legalizing her illegal activity. Commissioner Dennis Richards is skeptical.
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"To me it could be considered, some would consider it rewarding bad behavior. So, I've broken the law for 16 years and now I'm going to come clean," Richards said.
The commissioner says there are at least 8,000 short-term rentals listed on sites like Airbnb and VRBO, but only 800 people have registered with the city, as now required. Critics say the thousands disobeying the law shows a lack of enforcement that allows rent-controlled units to be taken off the market in the middle of a housing crisis.
Solomon's attorney says his client just wants to do what she's been doing for years.
"She would like a variance so she can continue to do what she's done lawfully for the last 23 years until the law changed," said Forrest Shryock, Solomon's attorney.
The planning commission staff recommends her hotel proposal be denied.
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