By Jenna Van De Ryt
Pissing off the public could in fact be one form of campaigning that is strategically working for Airbnb. If it was not for the $8 million imbursement to defeat the ballot measure, or the passive-aggressive billboards targeting different service groups across the city, taunting the rental company’s tax payments is what is putting not only Airbnb, but the proposition alike on the campaign map.
Proposition F is days away from being voted on by San Franciscans to either restrict Airbnb’s short-term home rentals, or continue the rental market frenzy as is.
Prop F requires a 50 percent plus one vote approval by residents in order to pass. If the proposition is approved, short-term housing rentals across San Francisco will be limited to 75 specific days throughout the calendar year to be rented. One significant requirement of the proposition is for owners to provide legitimate proof that the unit is publicized as a short-term rental. Furthermore, residents who put their units up for short-term renting must submit quarterly reports in regards to the number of days they personally reside in the home as well as the specific number of days the unit is occupied by renters. An increase of legal rights will be given to potential unit renters to sue housing parties if warranted. Prop F will restrict short-term renting of in-law units, as well as result in a misdemeanor if a host unlawfully cites a unit as a short-term rental.
Top California officials that support the proposition include, United States Senator Dianne Feinstein and State Senator Mark Leno.
According to Dale Carlson of Share Better SF, “the yes campaign for Prop F has raised a total of $385,000.”
Unite Here, the leading campaign contributor, is financially backing Prop F with a total of $300,000 and Hotel Association of New York City has donated $25,000 towards the proposition. The third largest financial donation for Prop F is from San Francisco’s Apartment Association totaling $20,000, Carlson said.
San Francisco Supervisor, David Campos is the Prop F spokesman, claiming that the issue at hand is more complex than simply short-term renting, but a displacement issue. The current citywide housing crisis is forcing homeowners to lease their units, which in turn pushes for eviction of long-term residents. Campos said the most positive effect that will result from the passing of Prop F is to protect the housing stock properly, because the city is losing housing to Airbnb.
“Prop F will keep things from getting worse,” Campos said. “In the Mission District, 40 percent of potential units are going to Airbnb instead of to local renters.”
Campos said within the last year a total of 300 long term residents have been evicted from the Mission District, all while the same 300 units were registered for Airbnb.
“Currently the law does not provide tools for rental enforcing. The regulation of Prop F will finally do so,” Campos said.
Airbnb is standing firm on the notion that the amount of hotel tax San Francisco receives each year in lieu of Airbnb rentals would greatly decrease if Prop F were to pass.
According to Inside Airbnb, an independent data source that provides publicly provided information on Airbnb listings, there are 6,361 short-term rental units featured within the heart of the city. Currently the estimated number of nights per year that a unit is rented through Airbnb is 136 with an average $224 price per night cost. San Francisco has a 76.4 percent availability for booking, which is quite high compared to other cities.
There are nine key players financially backing Airbnb’s campaign total. The top three supporters are Sadler Strategic Communications, Joe Slade White Communications and David Binder Research. Sadler Strategic is commissioning a grand total of $1,715,097 towards the campaign. Joe Slade White totals in at $316,904.45 and David Binder Research rounds the third largest cash sum with $264,800.
Dani Sheehan-Mayer, owner of a high-end gallery and gift store, Cliche Noe Gifts and Home is voting no on Prop F.
“We do not usually get organic visitors to the area, but because of Airbnb we are receiving new customers, mostly tourists. ” Sheehan-Mayer said.
Voting no would create no change. According to Sheehan-Mayer renters and Airbnb alike already have checks and balances to protect local housing in San Francisco.
Currently 41 political parties across San Francisco have taken a stance on the proposition, with three parties claiming “no position.” There are 22 parties in favor of Prop F and 16 political parties voting against it.
The Consolidated Municipal Election will take place on Nov. 3.