You’re a big business now — time to follow the rules
Commentary by Susan Dyer Reynolds of the Marina Times in San Francisco
Dear SF Tax Collector,
You know the $12 million in hotel taxes?
Don’t spend it all in one place.
— From a series of Airbnb ads in San Francisco, October 2015
Last fall, Airbnb was embroiled in a nasty battle to beat Proposition F, which would have strengthened regulations on the short-term home rental start-up and its competitors. The company spent more than $8 million on deceptive ads to scare the daylights out of anyone using the service (“Don’t let the government in your bedroom!”). Proponents of Proposition F spent almost nothing and still got 45 percent of the vote, but ultimately the pricey ad assault paid off and Airbnb defeated the measure.
That was just fine with moderates on the Board of Supervisors like Julie Christensen. Handpicked by Mayor Ed Lee to represent District 3 after David Chiu went to Sacramento, she told me in an interview that Proposition F was nothing more than a way to “stick it” to Airbnb. She and other supervisors also claimed that further regulating the vacation rental start-up would stifle their innovation, which is just plain malarkey — let’s not forget that Apple managed to invent the iPhone while following the same pesky rules as any other for-profit company. The bottom line is that Airbnb and other “sharing economy” upstarts (yes, I’m talking to you, Uber) have no interest in following rules, because their very business model depends on breaking them.