ORINDA (CBS SF) — AirBnB is banning “party houses” in the wake of a shooting that killed five people during a Halloween party at a short-term rental in Orinda this week.
The company will create a dedicated “party house rapid response team” and take immediate action against those who violate policies on large gatherings, AirBnB CEO and co-founder Brian Chesky said Saturday in a series of Twitter posts.
In addition, the AirBnB will expand manual screening of high-risk reservations, “flagged by our risk detection technology,” Chesky tweeted.
“Starting today, we are banning ‘party houses’ and we are redoubling our efforts to combat unauthorized parties and get rid of abusive host and guest conduct, including conduct that leads to the terrible events we saw in Orinda,” Chesky said.
Starting today, we are banning “party houses” and we are redoubling our efforts to combat unauthorized parties and get rid of abusive host and guest conduct, including conduct that leads to the terrible events we saw in Orinda. Here is what we are doing:
— Brian Chesky (@bchesky) November 2, 2019
Responses on Twitter to Chesky’s posts were mixed; some said it was a start but others were skeptical of the company’s move to act on complaints, saying it was long overdue and could just be lip service.
Five people died and at least three others were injured after the shooting Thursday night at the Orinda mansion at 114 Lucille Way, where more than 100 people had gathered for a Halloween party.
The victims have been identified as 19-year-old Oshiana Tompkins of Vallejo/Hercules, 22-year-old Tiyon Farley of Antioch, 24-year-old Omar Taylor of Pittsburg, 23-year-old Ramon Hill Jr. of San Francisco and Oakland and 29-year-old Javin County of Sausalito and Richmond.
The FBI is assisting in the investigation into the shooting. No arrests have been made as of midday Saturday, authorities said. Investigators found two guns in the house and are working to determine if they were used in the shooting.
Code enforcement officials had received numerous complaints about the property since it was registered as a short-term rental last November, including a complaint in February about large parties. The city sent the property owners, identified in property records as Wenlin Luo and Michael Young Wang, reminders about city regulations in March.
Complaints were also lodged the night of the party, when neighbors called police at 9:19 p.m., sent an email to code enforcement at 9:35 p.m. and called police again at 10:25 p.m.
An officer responded to the complaints at 10:48 p.m. and was en route when the shooting was reported.
The shooting was reported at 10:50 p.m. Officers arrived to find a chaotic scene with more than 100 people fleeing the nearly 4,000-square-foot home at 114 Lucille Way, a small street on a wooded hill where roads are narrow and winding.
Investigators have not made any arrests and have not been able to determine who the shooter or shooters were, or why gunfire broke out at the party.
Orinda police chief David Cook said Friday he did not believe there was any ongoing threat to the neighborhood as the house had been rented by people outside of Orinda.
He said investigators have located and are in the process of interviewing some of the people from the party but the investigation is complex and ongoing.
Orinda mayor Inga Miller said the city council would likely re-visit the issue of short-term rentals at its next meeting on Tuesday.
The city had already passed restrictions on the number of occupants allowed at short-term rentals like AirBnB, capping it at 13 people.
AirBnB released a statement on Friday saying that the home has been removed from listings during the investigation and that the guest who rented it would be banned from the platform. The company said that the listing specifically forbade parties.
House parties have long been an issue for AirBnB.
In 2018, the company permanently banned a man who crammed more than 250 people into a rental in Seven Hills, Ohio, for an unauthorized New Year’s party while his host hid in a bedroom.
And in July, two people were killed during a party at an AirBnB in Pittsburgh.
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