Home NEWS Government Orinda Council Studies Short-Term Lease Agreements After Camino Encinas Violence

Orinda Council Studies Short-Term Lease Agreements After Camino Encinas Violence

Cellphone capture of battery suspect. OPD

Stunned by the beating of a Florida man attacked during a party at an Orinda home rented through Airbnb, the city council is taking a hard look at so-called “transient” housing arrangements, and evaluating how they should be handled in future.

The council, spurred by Mayor Victoria Smith, queried adjacent cities and towns after the 21-year-old suffered serious injuries in an altercation outside an Airbnb party home on Camino Encinas Feb. 13.  The city is looking for insight on how other towns and cities are dealing with the “tech disrupt” approach to short-term rentals in their areas.

The Feb. 13 incident, during which two Orinda officers arrived to find the victim on the ground and “20 to 30” partygoers going in different directions, has put a spotlight on the issue of local homes being made available for short-term lease to anyone able to come up with the money.

Neighbors said the Camino Encinas home was advertised through Airbnb for roughly $875-a-night and paid for in cash by the party’s “hosts,” with partiers descending on the neighborhood Friday night. The as-yet unnamed victim, beaten in an altercation with another partygoer, was found in a nearby parking lot as police arrived to find a confusing scene – eventually calling for help from neighboring agencies to help regain control.

Eventually, investigators were called in from the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s office due to the severity of the beating and injuries suffered by the victim. Total cost for an investigation which shut down the neighborhood for approximately four hours was set at $9,000.

After the incident, Orinda city staff conducted a search to determine the number of active Airbnb listings in Orinda, Sausalito, Lafayette, and Petaluma, finding that Orinda currently has about 34 active Airbnb rentals available – of which 60 percent are for a room rental only.

No pertinent data could be found for Moraga, Piedmont, or Danville – which banned similar rental arrangements in their town shortly after the Orinda incident without citing the case directly.

Information accumulated by city staff and submitted to the council for review at their regularly scheduled meeting April 12, is “intended to serve as a starting point for the City Council to begin discussions regarding regulating short-term rentals,” staff wrote. 



  1. I err on the side of using good judgment and banning them in every city, especially cities with nice homes where people are doing okay financially. I blame the owners for renting them out. Granted, as a homeowner you should be able to do what you want with your own property… but there is a limit. The owner knew darn well what he was attracting by renting out for “$875 a night-cash.” The party goers had a right to be there if they paid for the rental… and this is 100% LIABILITY ON THE OWNER. The owner was greedy, and he knows it.

    • Hey, Danielle, we don’t believe the owner started out looking for a cash deal but agreed to it when the lessors offered it as their preferred method of payment.

  2. Umm..Knowingly offering up your home to host a house party for $875 is not greedy, it’s dumb. It is nonsensical to assume that the homeowner was a willing participant in this. And I see no basis to hold him/her vicariously accountable for the actions of his guests. On the other hand, I think it would be fair to insist that owners doing short term rentals post a notice with contact information so neighbors can report low-level nuisance, with a strict liability fine for failure to stop the nuisance (perhaps three times the rental rate as a fine). But this case is so far removed from “normal,” that the cops should have been (and were) called immediately.

    I’d also be ok with a minimum rental period longer than one night.

    • Hey, Chris, help us understand this statement: “that the cops should have been (and were) called immediately.”
      Our understanding is that despite neighbor discomfort with the noise and sketchy driving that night, first call to police came (probably from a partygoer) when the young man went down early the following morning… have you heard differently?

  3. We are one of the AirBnB units in Orinda – it’s a legal, 1 bedroom in-law unit attached to our family home. The rules set forth by AirBnB are quite clear — any compensation outside of the platform is not recommended, and means AirBnB offers no resolution / insurance and is not liable for damages. We, as owners, will not rent out the unit if we aren’t home, and are very picky in terms of tenants, and require a two-night minimum. We also pay taxes on the income, which augments our child-care expenses, and recommend local restaurants to tenants. Many of our guests are visiting family for weddings, commencement, reunions, or other such events. We’ve hosted families who are searching for homes, renovating their own, and looking at colleges. They are always clean, quiet, respectful. AirBnB requires multiple identity cross-checks (driver’s license, social media, email, credit card), and requesting guests are rated by hosts.

    What happened on Camino Encinas was an anomaly, and yes, the owner should have seen a cash offer from a young tenant as a warning sign. To castigate all of us who use our homes as an income source to help us afford to live here, because of the unfortunate act of another is a bit myopic, in my opinion. In closing, most of us are extremely careful about who is renting our home.

  4. Renting out your nice home on Airbnb is greedy and foolish. The risks outweigh the benefits. Well, what did you expect when you rented out your home to total strangers? Sometimes you have to think outside of the box. Most insurance companies won’t touch it… for a reason. As far as the young man who was critically injured… prayers.

  5. @JD: I have no info on timeline and may have misstated the facts. Sorry. My point is: for minor stuff, the neighbors should know how to contact the owner so they can address (with penalties against owner for inflicting nuisance on neighbors). For major stuff, the cops should intervene.

    @Danielle: I respect your right to decline to rent your house out. This is a one of the bundle of rights you have as the owner. Isn’t freedom awesome? Do you respect my right to do what I like with my property, even though you may think (you wouldn’t be alone) that I am greedy and foolish in so doing?

    • Thanks, yes, though neighbors described this is a boisterous gathering our info is that police were not aware of it until early the next morning when the medical emergency was called in. Checking to see if you had a different version of the timeline. Cheers.

  6. PS: Well of course everyone has a right to rent out their home …but they do not have a right to turn it into a revolving door motel. Those owners are lucky that their house wasn’t trash to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars. Stupid move .

  7. Chris, of course I respect your right to do what you want with your property. You work hard for your money, and something tells me you’re very successful. That being said, this situation in Orinda could’ve been easily avoided if the owner had used good judgment. They were looking for a house party, and they found one. Unfortunately, this IS NOT an anomaly. This happens all the time with this company. They have terrible reviews on a website (mostly one star). Most of the reviews are warning people (owners and renters) to avoid this company at all costs.

  8. AirBnB is the intermediary. All members seeking lodging and all hosts offering lodging are rated based upon prior experiences. It would be reckless to rent a high-value home to someone who can’t show a history of responsible prior rentals on AirBnB. One night for cash, bypassing the AirBnB payment safeguards? This just sounds reckless and stupid. Hosts can be as strict as they want in accepting/rejecting renters, with the usual caveats for race, national origin, etc.

    My limited experience with multiple AirBnB locations in Europe was all very favorable.
    Danielle, where are you seeing these horrible reviews? I am curious to see them.

  9. David, on Sitejabber.com. They find trustworthy sites, and help you avoid scams. 369 out of 493 reviews are one star (out of five). Google airbnb reviews and you’ll find it. I’m terrible at providing links… I was taught to look it up in the dictionary and phone book. Hope this helps…

  10. I just checked out airbnb on sitejabber.com. I scrolled through five pages, and most of the negative reviews were from renters trying to rent property that wasn’t theirs, people who don’t understand how to interact with the platform, people expecting miracles to happen the moment they list their property, and travelers complaining about cancelation policies (which are set by the host, not AirBnB). Every time I have called customer service, I’m immediately connected (as traveler or host) to a live human being, who has always been very helpful. Seems like sitejabber.com is the site people visit to complain, not compliment, so of course there’s lots of low-star ratings.

  11. Just do as we did in school….. Loan it out with the expectation that it will be trashed upon return! That way you’re doubly surprised and pleased to find flowers on the kitchen table and beer in the icebox!

  12. I wish I were smart enough to start a business as terrible as AirBNB.

    AFAIK, no one is forced to offer their property for rent or, on the other hand, to rent a particular (or any) property. Other than some common sense rules on nuisance behavior, I see no reason to impose restrictions on transactions among consenting adults who, by definition, regard the exchange as mutually beneficial. I don’t want a government that won’t let me be dumb. I see zero evidence that, in the context of bazillions of transactions, AirBnB rentals harm third parties “all the time”— SiteJabber one-star reviews notwithstanding.

  13. One last post… attn. Orinda City Council. According to Airbnb, “Offline or cash payments are a violation of our Terms of Service, and can result in removal from Airbnb. We prohibit off-site payments.” Perhaps the City Council already knows this, but if this home was rented “illegally,” that should be enough reason to keep this from happening in Orinda. If it’s a preferred method of payment, but against the Terms of Service, it’s unacceptable.

  14. Although it was never mentioned openly I could not help but think that Danvilles ban was a direct result of this case.

  15. I believe this topic was on Danville Town Council’s radar for quite some time now.
    I congratulate them for this strong stand and decision. They know how to keep a community safe clean and desirable in a proactive manner. I support them fully.

  16. Sounds like a case for the lawyers. Going to be interesting to see where the they lay the responsibility for this.

  17. Case for lawyers? If I rent my home and, unbeknownst to me, the renter throws a party and a fight outside results in serious injuries, I don’t see any way (legally or morally) to place the blame on anyone other than the person/people who threw the party and/or threw the punches. Maybe if the injury happened on the property due to some dangerous condition you could try to tag the owner, but that does not appear to be the case.

    The owner may have been dumb, but I don’t see how he breached a duty (again, legally or morally) to the injured party. That the owner perhaps broke the AirBnB rules (which are NOT “laws”) does nothing to further the claims of the victim.

  18. Couldn’t you or a smart lawyer argue that the owner of the home should have known they might be creating a possible nuisance situation by renting to a young? person offering to pay cash for the night? I would also wonder if Orinda would try to recover the cost of the police investigation???

  19. We don’t even know if the football player from Florida survived this assault? Why is his name being kept a secret?

  20. The issue of liability remains to be seen and is not as clear-cut as some here suggest. Is Uber liable when one of its drivers goes on a murder spree? Is google liable when one of its driverless cars hits another car? And this too may come before a judge.

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