Airbnb San Francisco at long last deals with the company as a

first_img Tags: Airbnb Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0% There’s a funny story about the ascension of Karol Wojtyla to Pope John Paul II. Upon hearing the news, a shell-shocked colonel in the Polish secret police uttered, “My God, from now on we’ll have to kiss his ass.” A savvier Party secretary replied, “Only if he lets us.” At 12 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 17, Kevin Guy became San Francisco’s pope of short-term rentals. Some 2,080 illegal Airbnb listings vanished into the ether in that very nanosecond. And they were, definitionally, illegal: As of that minute, a short-term rental host who proves he or she is following city laws and earns a license issued by Guy’s Office of Short-Term Rentals is legal, and a host who doesn’t have one is illegal and excommunicated — period. In the past, not having a license was no bar to renting out units and raking in cash — and hosts who flouted city rules aimed at preserving housing and were busted by Guy’s office would, within days or weeks, pop up on another hosting platform. “Whac-a-mole” is an overused analogy, but it seems remarkably fitting here. And, all the while, Airbnb, VRBO and the other platforms enabling this behavior were free to continue hosting proven scoundrels and rule-breakers, raking in their consequence-free cut. The Office of Short-Term Rentals’ enforcement process mirrored the Robin Williams line about England’s unarmed cops: “Stop. Or I’ll say stop again.”   No more: An excommunication from Guy now carries real weight. Per a settlement agreement, as of last week Guy doesn’t have to ask the billion-dollar platforms to remove renegade hosts. He tells them to. And, furthermore, the platforms will proactively cancel that host’s pending bookings. “This really helps us,” explains Guy’s deputy, Omar Masry. “You’re cutting off their money. You’re forcing that ‘Oh, crap’ moment for really bad actors.” And, in this realm, there are plenty of those. Airbnb, which was born in San Francisco, rose to prominence via a business model that explicitly violated this city’s housing laws. It and other short-term rental platforms aided and abetted in the cannibalization of affordable residential stock at the very moment when this city is facing its greatest privation of that resource since, take your pick, the Gold Rush or the Big One of 1906.And yet, this company and its ilk — which, again, expressly violated city law and, again, devoured affordable housing far faster than this sclerotic city could build it — were coddled and shielded by Mayors Gavin Newsom and Ed Lee. For years, Airbnb failed to pay this city’s hotel taxes — and, when he labored to recoup that money, treasurer Jose Cisneros was actually told to back off by Lee (in writing!). The rules enacted in 2015 to validate Airbnb’s previously illegal business model and regulate its activity were so comically unenforceable that it well and truly appeared this was the intention all along. That sounds conspiratorial. But conspiratorial worldviews were rewarded when it came to describing this city’s relationship with disruptive startups — startups that just happen to be prized investment vehicles of the ascendent tech barons who’ve held such sway with the last several mayoral administrations.To wit: This city’s planning department in 2015 stated, unabashedly, that attempts to regulate Airbnb in any meaningful way would be hamstrung if it and other platforms were allowed to list unregistered hosts and proven scofflaws. And the Planning Commission agreed — until a mid-meeting text message from the mayor’s office to commissioner Christine Johnson led her to reverse her deciding vote.  Three years later — three years of meticulous toil by the Office of Short-Term Rentals, three years of exploding valuations for Airbnb et al., three years of thousands of residential units sheltering tourists instead of residents — the city now has those powers. Your humble narrator has covered San Francisco government for the better part of 20 years, and rarely has he been able to write the following sentence: Things are moving in the right direction. TheOffice of Short-Term Rentals’ rejection rate for prospective registered hosts long hovered at around 15 or 20 percent. But, as last week’s mandatory registration deadline approached, the applications went through the roof. And so did the rejections. The office is now spiking nearly 40 percent of all applications. This city’s rules dictate that you must live on-site full-time to rent to tourists full-time. Otherwise, the limit for “unhosted” rentals is 90 days per year. An inability to prove residency is the No. 1 reason for prospective hosts to be bounced, and the skyrocketing rejection rate would seem to indicate that a goodly share of the former Airbnb (and other) hosts in this city weren’t the “grandma renting out the kids’ old rooms” types the company likes to promote, but more akin to ersatz hotels. When Masry gets these people on the phone, he often has lengthy discussions with them. “I tell them I’m trying to work with them sincerely and it’s clear they don’t live there. What drove them to giving us a fraudulent application?” Some people bluster with faux outrage but, increasingly, there’s another reaction. And it says a lot about perceptions of how things work in this city. “People tell me, ‘We thought the city just had to pretend to care,’” Masry continues. “They thought this was a rubber-stamping exercise. They felt like they’d be stupid for not lying.” Until recently, they would have been; honesty is often its own reward in this city. Consequence-free flouting of rules regarding short-term rentals was the plusher and more enabled San Francisco analog of consequence-free rampant property crime. It fosters the impression that we are living in a state of lawlessness in which government has abdicated its responsibilities. And it encourages a certain type of person people to step in and claim his or her pound of flesh, at others’ expense. San Francisco still has 99 problems. But, to a lesser extent, than it has been in years, Airbnb ain’t one. With some 6,000 illegal listings gone with a puff of white smoke, Guy’s office is feeling liberated — and enabled to look into bigger and more complex issues. They can monitor Airbnb’s new “Friendly Buildings” program in which apartment owners and building management companies enable subleasing and take their cut of tenants’ earnings. They can delve into whether residential hotels letting out rooms on short-term rental sites are violating myriad city rules. “We’re going to spend less time dealing with garbage,” Masry sums up. “We still get complaints all the time, but most of that activity will now be stopped at the gate, and [bad hosts] won’t be able to list on a popular website. It was tears of frustration going after individual hosts. But that changes now. The platforms are part of the solution. They were forced to be.” “Forced” is an apropos word. That’s because of a legal settlement won by the City Attorney’s office after Airbnb et al. sued over then-Supervisor David Campos’ 2016 legislation. Campos, for his part, describes this turn of events as “vindication.” Guy, who toiled for years at a Sisyphean task in an office many feared was mere window dressing before last week’s ascension, is less effusive. At a Jan. 17 hearing before the Board of Supervisors, he gamely presented troves of data off a PowerPoint and answered supes’ questions in a polite, bureaucratic monotone. A platoon of homesharing enthusiasts also testified, singing the praises of the new system. “These are the same folks who didn’t want any regulation at all in 2014, ’15, and ’16. They loved the Wild West!” summed up Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who remained cordial enough during public comment. “They fought this legislation every step of the way, but now they, along with Airbnb, are saying it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread — but don’t do any more.” It remains to be seen just what this city will do. In the meantime, Airbnb and its acolytes seem to have come to the same realization as the Polish secret police colonel. Once able to more or less do as they pleased, the decision has now been made to kiss San Francisco’s you-know-what. This city has opted to let them. For now. center_img 0%last_img read more

Window breaker spares car in the name of love

first_img Tags: burglary • cars Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0% A moment of levity has sprung out of San Francisco’s car break-in epidemic: one of our resident smash-and-grabbers, it seems, has a crush.“I walked past your car every day and I never break your window,” wrote the self-described “window breaker.” “You’re the shining star in my commute every morning. One day we’ll cross paths and I’ll get the courage to ask you on a date in your sexy car.”The note was left on the windshield of a car parked on 18th Street between Guerrero and Dolores. A photo of the note was posted on Reddit a couple days ago.Last year, some 30,000 cars were broken into in San Francisco. In the Mission, car break-ins skyrocketed 86 percent from 2016 to 2017. Yet it appears one car has been spared — not because of the recently established property crime units or the SFPD’s Park Smart program — but in the name of love. center_img 0%last_img read more

SAINTS have won their last seven meetings three a

first_imgSAINTS have won their last seven meetings (three away from home) with Widnes.The Vikings’ last win against the Saints was 40-26 at home on April 21 2014.Squads:Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook has been named in Saints’ 19-man squad. Read more here.Last Ten Meetings:Widnes 8, St Helens 21 (SLS8-R6, 18/9/16) St Helens 12, Widnes 10 (SLR21, 8/7/16) Widnes 12, St Helens 20 (SLR8, 28/3/16) St Helens 36, Widnes 20 (CCQF, 28/6/15) St Helens 34, Widnes 16 (SLR12, 24/4/15) Widnes 20, St Helens 30 (SLR5, 13/3/15) St Helens 44, Widnes 22 (SLR22, 25/7/14) Widnes 40, St Helens 26 (SLR10, 21/4/14) St Helens 28, Widnes 35 (SLR14, 3/5/13) Widnes 4, St Helens 16 (SLR2, 10/2/13)Super League Summary:Widnes won 2 St Helens won 18Highs and Lows:Widnes highest score: 40-26 (H, 2014) (also widest margin) St Helens highest score: 62-0 (H, 2012) (also widest margin)Head to Head:SaintsWidnesTries3228Goals2521Metres12,23210,566Breaks5234Tackles3,3863,471Penalties7687Betfred Super League Leading Scorers:Tries:1 Greg Eden (Castleford Tigers) 14 2 = Luke Gale (Castleford Tigers), Greg Minikin (Castleford Tigers), Albert Kelly (Hull FC), Liam Marshall (Wigan Warriors) 9 6 = Joel Moon (Leeds Rhinos), Ben Jones-Bishop (Wakefield Trinity) 8 8 = Richie Myler (Catalans Dragons), Matt Parcell (Leeds Rhinos) 7Goals:1 Luke Gale (Castleford Tigers) 55 2 Marc Sneyd (Hull FC) 45 3 Luke Walsh (Catalans Dragons) 42 4 = Morgan Escare (Wigan Warriors), Gareth O’Brien (Salford Red Devils), Ben Reynolds (Leigh Centurions) 28 7 = Mark Percival (St Helens), Sam Williams (Wakefield Trinity) 25 9 Liam Sutcliffe (Leeds Rhinos) 23 10 Danny Brough (Huddersfield Giants) 20Points:1 Luke Gale (Castleford Tigers) 148 2 Marc Sneyd (Hull FC) 102 3 Luke Walsh (Catalans Dragons) 91 4 Gareth O’Brien (Salford Red Devils) 77 5 Morgan Escare (Wigan Warriors) 73 6 Mark Percival (St Helens) 70 7 Ben Reynolds (Leigh Centurions) 64 8 Greg Eden (Castleford Tigers) 56 9 Liam Sutcliffe (Leeds Rhinos) 55 10 Sam Williams (Wakefield Trinity) 50last_img read more

Club First Team SAINTS TV

first_imgThe backrower signed from the Gold Coast Titans during the 2017 season and has been an instrumental part of Justin Holbrook’s side, including as his team secured the League Leaders Shield in 2018.He has made 76 appearances for the Club to date, scoring 16 tries.Zeb commented:“I’m excited to be a part of this Club for another year, it’s good to get the deal done.It’s great to be a part of the Saints family. There are a lot of great young players coming through and i’m excited to be a part of their journey aswell.The last two seasons we have come up short and that really hurt, that’s one thing that played on my mind, I don’t want to miss out on the chance to win more silverware.We have still got a big job ahead of us this year, but with the playing group and the mindset that we have, it can be done, it’s good vibes in the camp.”Saints Head Coach Justin Holbrook said:“It’s great news for the Club to have Zeb sign, he’s a big part of what we are developing, he’s very professional and a great influence on all the other players in the squad.He is playing the best rugby league of his career in my view, he’s been another one of our stand-out performers this season and I’m sure he will continue that into next year.”Saints Chairman Eamonn McManus added:“Congratulations to Zeb on signing a new one year contract. He’s been great for us during his three seasons here. His class and experience will be invaluable to us next year as our younger players, particularly in the forwards, continue to improve and mature alongside him.”last_img read more

Wilmington hurricane tracker experiences eye of Irma

first_img “That’s the reason. This, this drive and passion for studying the affects of hurricanes on us,” Sudduth said.Sudduth has tracked 26 hurricanes in his career but says Irma has been the toughest.“So the forecast part was one of the most different, and difficult, that I’ve ever had to deal with,” Sudduth said.Related Article: 2 dead after plane crashes through Florida warehouse roofTracking its path was hard but Sudduth was able to make his way across Florida using his tools to show what it was like to be in the center of the storm.“The Florida goal was to set up equipment around the southern part of the peninsula that would monitor wind, and air pressure, and stream live video of the effects,” Sudduth said.From Miami, to the Florida Keys, to Naples, and Marco Island, Sudduth set up four cameras. Two of  the cameras were knocked out by the storm but they were still able to collect data.Sudduth says his team is made for this kind of weather.“Because of our experience,” Sudduth said. “My team and I, no I never felt like my safety was in jeopardy.”Irma is one Hurricane Sudduth says he will never forget.“So the impact of this hurricane over such a huge area is what will have me remember it the most,” Sudduth said. “Um, that it is not a small isolated area where it was in and out in a day, it’s still going on. So I think the immensity of Irma’s impact is what stands out for me.”Sudduth says after he finishes collecting data he plans on heading back to Wilmington Tuesday. Sudduth says he is going to reset the clock and potentially get ready for Hurricane Jose. WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — When it comes to the impacts Irma is having on Florida, one Wilmington hurricane tracker went south to keep people informed.Heading towards the eye of the storm, that is what Hurricane Tracker Mark Sudduth does.- Advertisement – last_img read more

Cops Leland man tried to set home on fire following domestic dispute

first_imgBRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A Leland man is in jail after police say he tried to set a home on fire following a domestic dispute Monday.Leland Police have charged 24-year-old Antonial Mark White Jr. with one count Felony Burning Personal Property, one count Felony Attempted 2nd Degree Arson and one count Misdemeanor Injury to Property.- Advertisement – The incident happened yesterday around 5 p.m. at a home on Oak Lane which police say stemmed from a domestic issue.Police said clothes that were inside of a closet were set on fire.White is being held in the Brunswick County Jail under a $150,000 secured bond.last_img

Wilmington man killed identified in Memorial Day shooting

first_imgWILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Wilmington Police have identified the man who died Monday after being shot on Martin Street.Fuquan Wright, 23, was shot around 2:30 p.m. Monday in the 1000 block of Martin Street.- Advertisement – WPD says he was taken to New Hanover Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.The investigation is ongoing.Anyone with information is asked to contact WPD at 910-343-3600 or use Text A Tip.last_img

Bitty Beaus sends off Special Olympic athletes to world games with pep

first_img The pep rally is scheduled for 4 p.m. at their shop along New Centre Drive in Wilmington.Prepare for a lot of fun and a lot of dancing!Good luck to Trevor, Christina, Megan, Austin, Shari & Jill! WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — If you want to show some support for our local special olympic athletes, you can head to Bitty and Beau’s Thursday afternoon.The coffee shop, which employs people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, says they are holding a pep rally to send off the local athletes participating in the 2018 Special Olympics World Games in Seattle, Washington.- Advertisement – last_img

Microsofts Excel Has Been Blamed For Errors in Academic Papers on Genomics

first_imgImage Credit: Advertisement Researchers trying to raise awareness of the issue claim that the spreadsheet software automatically converts the names of certain genes into dates.Gene symbols like SEPT2 (Septin 2) were found to be altered to “September 2”.However, Microsoft, which released the first version of Excel in 1985, said the gene renaming errors can be overcome if users make alterations in the application settings. – Advertisement – “Excel is able to display data and text in many different ways. Default settings are intended to work in most day-to-day scenarios,” a spokeswoman for the corporation told BBC.“Excel offers a wide range of options, which customers with specific needs can use to change the way their data is represented.”The study also claimed that the Excel conversion problem was present in other spreadsheet software, such as Apache OpenOffice Calc.The systemic error was not, however, present in Google Sheets.The researchers also claimed that the problem is present in “approximately one-fifth of papers” that collated data in Excel documents.The trio, writing for the Melbourne-based academic institute Baker IDI, scanned 3,597 published scientific papers to conduct their study.They found 704 of those papers contained gene name errors created by Excel.Ewan Birney, director of the European Bioinformatics Institute, does not blame Excel and told BBC;“What frustrates me is researchers are relying on Excel spreadsheets for clinical trials.”The Excel gene renaming issue has been known among the scientific community for more than a decade, Birney added.He recommended that the program should only be considered for “lightweight scientific analysis”.One of the paper’s three researchers, Assam El-Osta, said the errors were found specifically on the supplemental data sheets of academic studies.He told the BBC that supplemental pages contained “important supporting data, rich with information,” and added that resolving these errors was “time-consuming”.Excel’s automatic renaming of certain genes was first cited by the scientific community back in 2004, the Baker IDI study claims. Since then the problem has “increased at an annual rate of 15%” over the past five years.last_img read more

Rumour WhatsApp planning a passcode protection feature

first_imgAdvertisement After protecting your private conversations with end-to-end encryption, it seems WhatsApp wants to give you even greater peace of mind by adding passcode protection to its app.Android Authority has been tipped about the purported six-digit passcode protection feature. The feature was spotted in WhatsApp translation requests, which are text strings sent by the company to volunteers to translate UI and other text, and if real, can indicate the company is working to add passcode protection.The details were spotted as part of a text translation program for WhatsApp, to convert strings from English into Dutch. Phrases to be translated include “Enter the current six-digit passcode:“, “Passcodes don’t match. Try again.“, and “Enter a recovery email address“, which are all pretty good indicators about what could be heading our way soon. – Advertisement – In the past, leaked translation requests have been a reliable indicator of upcoming features on WhatsApp. So far however, there has been no confirmation about the rollout of the passcode feature from WhatsApp. The move to add passcodes to protect chats seems the next step to enhance messaging experience on WhatsApp.Recently, WhatsApp finally enabled the mention feature on its Android as well as iPhone apps. The mention feature works same as it does on Facebook and Twitter. Users will have to use “@” sign in a group chat and the app will automatically suggest names of the group members.[related-posts]Credit: NDTV, Android Authoritylast_img read more