According to a newly launched, pretty straightforward public relations site called airbnbsf.com Airbnb is "under attack" from "bureaucrats." With a series of carefully selected testimonials, one from each district, photogenic locals explain that they can only afford San Francisco's outrageous rents because of the money they earn using Airbnb. Airbnb is, in other words, their savior. According to the site, "For many people, sharing their home on Airbnb is the only way they can afford to stay in the city they love."
It's a brilliant campaign, and it's probably ass backwards. Airbnb wants to hit San Franciscans right where it hurts: affordability. Short term rentals, however, reduce long-term rental supply and result in increased rents, all the more so when they are under-regulated. But never mind that: Airbnb is keeping families like District 4's Kevin & Esther Krejci afloat. From the site:
“My husband and I have been sharing a room in our Sunset home. Since Kevin was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, it has been the money we make hosting on Airbnb that makes it possible to pay his medical and physical therapy bills. The visitors we've welcomed from across the world have taught us so much, especially our children, who learned to welcome people of different cultures, and understanding their own stories that they have. San Francisco is expensive, very expensive, and for our family hosting on Airbnb has made it affordable.”
It's an inspiring story, and I'm sure everyone is glad that the Krejcis are pulling through. On the other hand, it could be argued that Airbnb is exploiting the Krejcis in an effort to feud with a city government they somehow feel to be an oppressor.
The company is very visibly chafing under (admittedly complicated) new regulations. But those, by the way, haven't even been enforced, in part because they can't be without cooperation from Airbnb, who are totally sandbagging the city. Plus, the company is still reeling from finally paying their back taxes, which might have been in the "tens of millions" according to sources.
So, is Airbnb done appealing to officials? The new site might be an indicator that the company is instead going after constituents and cleverly targeting their discontents. "Home sharing is under attack," reads the site, "City bureaucrats want to make it harder for regular San Franciscans to share their homes while contributing to the community."
Yes, says the company that's never missed an opportunity to pay SF back.