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Published: Mon, October 26, 2015
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Airbnb vs. San Francisco: Round One Goes to the Opposition

Airbnb vs. San Francisco: Round One Goes to the Opposition

As you can imagine, the company wasn't exactly thrilled with the fact that they were going to have to start regularly shelling out more tax money to the city of San Francisco.

The messages were strategically placed one week before San Francisco residents prepare to vote on Proposition F on November 3.

According to the Proposition guidelines, if passed, the measure would impose restrictions on private, short-term housing rentals to 75 nights per year and impose provisions created to ensure private rentals are paying hotel taxes and following city code.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, one ad reads "Dear Public Library System, We hope you use a few of the $12 million in hotel taxes to keep the library open later". The controversy comes two weeks before California voters will consider Proposition F, a ballot initiative that could significantly restrict the type of short-term rentals that Airbnb makes available in San Francisco. The ads inspired several parodies. Besides, you look exhausted. "The intent was to show the hotel tax contribution from our hosts and guests, which is roughly $1 million per month", Christopher Nulty, the company's spokesman, said in a statement.

Airbnb is in full damage control mode today, after a bizarrely passive aggressive ad campaign launched this week across San Francisco and drew instant and universal condemnation.

"I don't think it was perhaps a well thought-out advertising strategy", San Francisco Public Library spokeswoman Michelle Jeffers, putting it perhaps a little charitably, told the Chronicle.

This all follows another, shall we say, odd series of ads released by Airbnb last summer.

Though there are a few registration requirements on the books, the AP pointed out, the coalition supporting Prop F said they are "unenforceable", citing just 700 registered Airbnb users in the city out of an estimated 5,500 site listings.

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