After San Francisco voted against a proposal to restrict home rentals and services like Airbnb, the company has announced plans to create clubs in 100 US cities to help residents campaign against similar legislation.
Speaking at a press conference at Airbnb’s San Francisco headquarters, head of global policy Chris Lehane described the company’s plans to mobilize hosts and guests in the fight to keep its services running across the country:
We’re going to build on the momentum coming from San Francisco… to give our community access to the finest grassroots training, tools and support.
Airbnb will provide help in the form of dedicated staff and a hotline to its headquarters, and the clubs will operate independently. Lehane said, “these clubs are going to be of the people, for the people and by the people.”
The company didn’t disclose where it would set up clubs, but New York City, where short-term rentals are being debated, is probably on the cards. It said that it hopes to have 100 of them up and running by the end of 2016.
With that, Airbnb’s battle to keep running its home rental service has turned into a political war that has already resulted in campaign costs measured in the millions in order to win across the nation.
Dale Carlson, who headed up the Proposition F campaign in Airbnb’s hometown, noted that other cities around the country dealing with the issues of rising housing costs and homes being taken off the market, spurred by rental service, have got in touch with him. Carlson speculates, “Next year, Airbnb may have to spend $100 million to fight ballot measures all over the place.”
Airbnb spent over $8 million to campaign against Proposition F in San Francisco, which sought to restrict its operations in the city. The proposal was defeated when 55 percent of voters rejected the measure.