We still can’t believe Kyrie Irving made that shot last night and the Warriors are the best-ever second place NBA team. But what we can believe is that Airbnb is going full-court press to stop San Francisco from making its business in the city miserable.
Famously, Airbnb's home city has proved incapable of making Airbnb follow simple rules. There are thousands of available Airbnb listings that are not complying with the city's very modest rules, requiring hosts to register with the city and putting a limit on the number of nights a valuable housing unit can be used as a tourist hotel. But with the city's Board of Supervisors taking a no-nonsense turn and preparing to fine Airbnb $1,000 a day for every scofflaw listing, Airbnb is turning for help… to its hosts.
Using its host-led activism arm Airbnb Action — which originally launched in early June 2014 to combat New York City’s crackdown at the time on the short-term rental service — the company is clearly in attack mode following the Board of Supervisors’ unanimous decision to make it play by the rules. But so far, as TechCrunch points out, it has not gone for the jugular.
[jump] Airbnb Action is pretty tame at the moment. Instead of suing the city over the new regulations — which are set to take effect in July and require Airbnb itself to police San Francisco listings, removing those that do not display registration info — Airbnb seems to be recruiting troops for the long war.
And it’s shaming city officials in the process. The last section is titled “How We Can Work Together,” and it points out the “simple” ways in which the city could help make the short-term rental law more Airbnb-friendly. Essentially, all the suggestions undermine San Francisco’s original law, which we admit is something of a joke.
There’s also something potentially dangerous afoot here.
Airbnb Action is emboldening folks like Peter Kwan of the Home Sharers Democratic Club to tell the city to fuck off. Using colorful phrases like “respect the will of the voters” and “deputizing private entities … as law enforcement agencies,” Kwan essentially gives a multibillion-dollar company some free PR work. (Let’s also not forget that “the will of the voters” produced a gay marriage ban that was wholly and obviously discriminatory.)
It might be smart for Airbnb to let others do the talking for it (remember this gem of an ad campaign?), but make no mistake: Airbnb is not your friend. It’s a big scary corporation that wants to be bigger and scarier. Its users break the rules, and it’s growing like a cancer. We can be sure Airbnb is not letting this one go. If they lose, chances are other cities will follow San Francisco’s model. And that’s bad for business.