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Airbnb says it’s banning ‘party houses’ after deadly Halloween shooting in Orinda

Halloween Party Shooting
Contra Costa County sheriff deputies investigate a multiple shooting at a rental home in Orinda, Calif., on Halloween last week.
(Associated Press)

Airbnb says it will now ban “party houses” from its platform in response to a deadly shooting at a Bay Area Halloween party held at one of its rentals that left five people dead.

CEO Brian Chesky announced Saturday on Twitter that Airbnb is “redoubling our efforts to combat unauthorized parties,” including expanded manual screening for reservations deemed “high-risk” and the creation of a rapid response team to address issues related to such gatherings.

“We must do better, and we will,” Chesky tweeted. “This is unacceptable.”

Airbnb spokesman Ben Breit offered few details on how those efforts would be implemented or what factors might flag a rental as a party house, saying the company has initiated a 10-day review to develop the new policies.

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Breit told The Times that the rental listing where the shooting occurred had rules barring parties. The listing and the person who rented it have both been removed from the site, he said.

According to police, more than 100 people from around the Bay Area descended on the home in the tony East Bay suburb of Orinda on Thursday night. The gathering had been widely advertised on social media, authorities said. Officers responding to a noise complaint at the residence arrived to find a “highly chaotic scene” with multiple gunshot victims and revelers fleeing.

Three victims were pronounced dead at the scene, according to a statement by the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Department, and another died at the hospital that night. They were identified as Tiyon Farley, 22, of Antioch; Omar Taylor, 24, of Pittsburg; Ramon Hill Jr., 23, of San Francisco and Oakland and Javin County, a 29-year-old from Sausalito and Richmond.

A fifth victim, 19-year-old Oshiana Tompkins, was pronounced dead at a hospital Friday, according to a police statement. No arrests have been made, said sheriffs spokesman Jimmy Lee.

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The property’s owner, Michael Wang, told the San Francisco Chronicle that the woman renting the home claimed she was hosting a family reunion for a dozen people.

Wang told the Chronicle he checked security cameras installed at the property after receiving noise complaints and saw far more people inside. He said he called police.

Law enforcement officials said they received noise complaints about the party at 9:19 p.m. and 10:25 p.m. that night. About 20 minutes later, an officer was headed to the home to investigate when reports of the shooting came in.

Orinda City Manager Steve Salomon said the home had been the subject of neighbor complaints about parties, most recently in February. Orinda regulations allow for a maximum of 13 guests in short-term rentals of that size. Salomon said both he and the police chief had called the property owner to reiterate restrictions on short-term rentals.

“The purpose of the call was to make an impression on them,” Salomon told The Times. The property owners had been in compliance with city regulations up until the Halloween party occurred, he said.

Orinda Mayor Inga Miller said the city will again discuss short-term rentals at a City Council meeting this week.

Other cities have also tried to grapple with the effects of short-term rentals. A Los Angeles city ordinance that took effect in July only allows property owners to rent out their primary residence, or a home they live in at least six months of the year, for short-term rentals.

Under the new rules, owners seeking to do so must register with the city and pay a fee. Rent-stabilized properties of any kind are not eligible for short-term rentals, though a new proposal being considered by the L.A. City Council would allow people to host such rentals in rent-stabilized units that they both own and live in.

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Airbnb says it has reached an agreement with the city of Los Angeles to create a system that will streamline enforcement of the city’s new regulations on their site. Under the system, which has yet to be created, new hosts won’t be able to publish listings without approval from the city. Existing listings without the city’s required registration number will be removed.

Times staff writer Emily Alpert Reyes contributed to this report.


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