Protestors stormed the headquarters of multibillion dollar lodging startup Airbnb on Monday in San Francisco, one day before Bay Area residents cast their votes either in favor of or against Proposition F–the “Airbnb initiative,” a measure that seeks to regulate short-terms rentals in the city.
Housing and homelessness protest at Airbnb HQ continues pic.twitter.com/68cyzjxJYR
— Julia Carrie Wong (@juliacarriew) November 2, 2015
According to videos on social media and a report by several media outlets including the Los Angeles Times, protesters could be seen on video shouting “No more displacement in this city!” from the atrium of Airbnb’s corporate offices at 888 Brannan St.
Airbnb, which is worth more than $25 billion, had reportedly spent $8 million fighting Proposition F starting this past October. On Tuesday, San Francisco voted on Proposition F which, if passed, would restrict short-term and vacation rentals in private homes to 74 days a year and would also require quarterly reports to the San Francisco Planning Department on how a unit is used. Any company that violates that code will be faced with fines and even lawsuits, if the proposition passed (polls are still open as of this writing).
Protesters and those in favor of Prop F are argue that companies like Airbnb are contributing to a lack of affordable housing in San Francisco and rampant displacement because housing units are being turned into hotel rooms–which, they, allege, is leading to an increase in the number of evictions and a homeless epidemic in the region.
— Steve Rhodes (@tigerbeat) November 2, 2015
The protesters reportedly brought pizza to the protest and gave it to homeless people afterward.
SF Weekly notes that the protesters also released paper houses that were carried into the air by balloons with messages on them which read “Evictions. Love, AirBnB.” and “Homelessness. Love, AirBnB.” The Times writes that activists were yelling at a worker who tried to remove the balloon-carried banners they had released.
In addition to being bombarded with TV commercials describing Proposition F as “unnecessary” and “extreme”, San Francisco residents may have seen several forthright Airbnb ads placed on bus shelters telling municipal agencies in San Francisco what they can do with the $12 million in city hotel taxes their company is paying. The ads were quickly taken down after receiving negative reactions from residents.
Demonstrators are at AirBNB Headquarters protesting. They’re supporters of Prop F to be decided on Election Day. pic.twitter.com/TVpsPxOHF1
— Sergio Quintana (@svqjournalist) November 2, 2015
The bus shelter ads inspired a series of parody ads, including one that suggests voters forgo showing up to vote for Prop F altogether. “Dear San Fran, Go ahead and take a spa day on November 3rd. Treat yourself. Nothing else is going on. Besides, you look tired. Love, Airbnb.”