ORINDA (KPIX) – The small East Bay town of Orinda was shocked when five people were shot and killed at a Halloween party. It happened at an Airbnb home and Monday a new state law was proposed to make those who rent their houses out more accountable to the law.
More than 100 young people were partying at the house in the normally quiet Orinda Hills when the gunfight between rival gang members broke out. The gathering was supposed to be a small family reunion and a city ordinance limited short-term rentals to only 12 people.
Now, officials are questioning whether the law offers enough of a penalty to get property owners to obey it.
“And the conclusion is NO…that there are not enough disincentives for those who rent these properties to do the right thing and to follow the law,” said State Senator Steve Glazer at a news conference in Orinda.
Senator Glazer is proposing a law that would raise the current maximum fine from $1,000 up to $5,000 for violations of property rental rules. With some homes renting for thousands of dollars per day, the feeling is there needs to be more of a punishment to get people’s attention.
“You gotta go for the knees, otherwise they’ll just keep doing it,” said Orinda resident Seth Colner. He lives near the neighborhood of the shootout and doesn’t believe that the home’s owners were deceived.
“The owner of that property definitely knew this wasn’t a family reunion,” Colner said. “This was a bunch of college kids getting together to throw a rager.”
Meighan Baldwin was home with her three children Monday and says she’s concerned about the reach that social media-connected companies like Airbnb can have into our lives.
“There’s the beauty and the beast of social media,” she said. “We love how it connects us with this great mass universe of strangers, right? And then also, it takes away your sense of privacy.”
Since the shootings, the town has changed its ordinance to require that rentals be a 2-night minimum in a primary residence with the owners present.
If Sen. Glazer’s bill passes, those rules may have more teeth. He says he plans to introduce his bill when the legislature reconvenes Tuesday in Sacramento.