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Turning Housing into Hotels

September 19, 2015

By Darwin BondGraham : eastbayexpress – excerpt

In the East Bay, Airbnb has expanded far beyond the rental of spare bedrooms and is now fostering the practice of taking entire homes and apartments off the long-term rental market.

At Scott Galbraith’s chain of West Oakland hotels, you can book a room in a cozy Victorian, built circa 1895, refurbished and stocked with modern technology and a spacious kitchen. The luxurious beds are cushioned with memory foam, and there is an upright piano in one of the suites for the traveling musician. Or, you can reserve a couple of weeks in a colonial revival house in the increasingly hip Dogtown neighborhood. If you’re on a budget, and your visit will be brief, Galbraith offers rooms in a little Victorian Stick-style house on Linden Street in West Oakland’s McClymonds neighborhood. Rooms go for $59 a night, and like his other accommodations, there’s a full kitchen. Galbraith also offers rooms in a single-story Italianate house near the West Oakland BART station for travelers who want easy access to San Francisco. Or, if you would rather just stay in San Francisco, Galbraith operates a hotel in a three-bedroom apartment on Rose Street in the Lower Haight neighborhood.

But if you’re planning on staying in one of Galbraith’s establishments, you should be aware of this fact: His business appears to be illegal. Galbraith’s Oakland accommodations are actually single-family residential homes, most of which he bought in foreclosure. And according to city records, he has never obtained a business license required to operate a hotel, let alone five. He also hasn’t obtained the permits needed to run a bed and breakfast, which is only legal in Oakland if the owner also lives onsite. And Galbraith hasn’t obtained the business license needed to operate as a landlord in the city, nor has he paid Oakland’s hotel tax, or the city’s residential rental landlord taxes. And according to reviews posted on the Airbnb ad for his San Francisco hotel, that apartment probably is not his primary residence, therefore he also could be violating San Francisco’s new short-term rentals law… (more)

I was just told by a realtor that there are over 20,000 units off the rental market in San Francisco. How many of these are short term rentals? If SF residents pass Prop F we may find out. If Prop F passes the internet services will be responsible for registering all the the hosts that support and we will know for sure where they are. More on Prop F: http://www.sharebettersf.com/

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