San Francisco has voted against Proposition F, a proposal that would limit Airbnb’s service in the city by imposing restrictions on citizens who wish to rent out space in their own homes.
The proposal was defeated by a 55 percent to 45 percent margin and it cost Airbnb more than $8 million to campaign against it, using window signs, making more than 225,000 phone calls and over 235,000 door-to-door visits to garner San Franciscans’ votes.
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Proposition F sought to restrict private rentals to 75 nights per year and ensure that they pay hotel taxes and follow city code. It would have dealt a huge to blow to Airbnb in its home town where it has roughly 7,900 hosts, as well as similar businesses like HomeAway.
While Airbnb may have won this battle, it could still have a war on its hands. Recode notes that as “it’s willing to pour millions of dollars into waging ugly political fights, [housing] activists elsewhere may try their luck on the ballot or in political arenas.”
Airbnb faces heat from residents of several cities including San Francisco and New York, who believe that the company is responsible for homes being taken off the market in order to rent them out to travelers and for rising housing costs. Airbnb’s counterargument is that it actually helps improve cities by bringing in additional tax revenues. Unfortunately, it’s not great at communicating that, as its recent misguided ad campaign showed.