Regions

Airbnb Spends $8 million campaign to stop San Francisco measure to limit short-term rentals

November 3
2:25 AM 2015

Airbnb shelled out more than $8 million to stop an initiative in San Francisco that would limit short-term rentals.

Reuters reported that the ballot, called proposition F, could threaten the growth of this giant international tech company. The proposition could impose a 75-day-per-year limit on Airbnb rentals and require the hosts to get registered with the city. The initiative was a move by the affordable housing advocates who no longer wants the city's housing stock used as rentals for tourists while the locals pay for outrageously high rents and are facing evictions.

Recently, Airbnb is putting up ads demanding the city to use tax-payers' money to improve services, and some voters find the message patronizing.

NOLA reported that the recent polls show that Airbnb is in the upper hand in convincing people to vote against Prop F. in a poll made on October 25-27, 55 percent of residents voted against the measure. The poll was conducted by No on F campaign researcher David Binder and it is funded by Airbnb. The company's campaign has a budget that exceeds Prop F's supporters' spending by almost 30 times. This only shows how threatened Airbnb is with the new measure.

According to Bloomberg, Airbnb hired political operative Chris Lehane to handle the $8-million campaign. Lehane is a former White House crisis manager, who is more popular known as "master of disaster." Lehane is against devoted opponents who accuse the tech industry of transforming San Francisco into nothing more than just a gated community. The ballot for Prop F seems to be a proxy battle in a war of pride.

Since Airbnb is based in San Francisco, it seems like the tech company won't allow defeat in its own hometown. If the measure pushes through, it would be a bad precedence to the company, as it could also be petitioned in any other parts of the country, or even the world. However, the company's strategy to spend $8 million for a campaign to stop the measure could lead to significant financial consequences.

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