from the no-one-looks-good-here dept
Dear Public Library System,Most of the other ads are based on a similar theme. Julia Carrie Wong at SF Weekly has collected a bunch of images as has Sarah Jeong at Vice's Motherboard (link above). Here are just a few:
We hope you use some of the $12 million in hotel taxes to keep the library open later.
How the who what I can't why pic.twitter.com/LgR4qYNbuG— Sarah Fine (@fineplanner) October 21, 2015
Airbnb, after an initial PR snafu in which it totally didn't realize that people might be offended by such ads, agreed to pull them down. But the raging against Airbnb has continued, and there's at least a decent chance that the campaign has backfired in a massive way, pushing more people to vote for the proposition.
And that's a problem, because as bad as Airbnb's ads are, Prop F is much, much worse. Last month, "Emey" posted a pretty thorough discussion on Medium, walking through the bill and explaining why it's really, really bad. Yes, it's directly targeted at Airbnb, and so Airbnb haters like it. But... they shouldn't. The only parties Prop F really helps are the big hotels. And while I guess some people would like to keep the "tourist element" out of their neighborhoods and apartment buildings, there are lots of other issues with Prop F. A huge concern is the private right of action that allows anyone living within 100 feet of your residence to basically take you to court under accusations that you're violating the law. If you don't think this will be abused by neighbors trying to annoy other neighbors, you haven't witnessed a neighbor dispute gone bad. It happens all too frequently, and giving people another tool to turn a neighbor dispute into a legal fight is a really bad idea.
Airbnb has somewhat exaggerated this private right of action, by claiming that it's about getting neighbors to spy on neighbors, but that's not the really concerning part. It's the legal process that this makes it much easier for neighbors to saddle on other neighbors, even if they're not breaking the law. It's a mess and it will create many more problems between neighbors.
And then there's the separate question of what's so bad about Airbnb. Again, it does have the potential to create some change, but plenty of that change is positive. It helps subsidize the housing of many people who wouldn't otherwise be able to live in big cities. It has enabled many people to start small businesses or side businesses. It has created real competition for terrible hotels. It enables people to better experience new places outside of the traditional "tourist" hotel setup. In my personal experience, Airbnb has been a tremendous benefit to both hosts and travelers. Are there potential downsides? Absolutely. It can contribute to the changing nature of some neighborhoods. Since some people will stay when otherwise they'd be priced out, it can limit housing supply. Same for some landlords who are using properties solely as short-term rental units. But the real problem with that is overall supply restrictions in San Francisco (of which there are many -- and, weirdly enough, the same people protesting Airbnb seem to often be in favor of those other supply restrictions).
So, yes, Airbnb's ad campaign was terrible and tone deaf and reeked of entitlement. But don't support Prop F because of it. Prop F is worse. Much worse.