Skift Take

San Francisco housing is a disaster created by city leaders who have failed to plan, greedy residents who are out for a buck, and an economy that's granting outsize salaries to young people without much sense. Airbnb is only part of the problem, and Prop F is only part of the solution.

San Francisco is Airbnb in the extreme, and later today voters will go to the polls in the city to vote on Proposition F (embedded below), which would limit the number of days a person could rent out their entire apartment as a short-term rental.

And although the restrictions on rentals are consistent with the part-time image of hosts that Airbnb promotes, the company and its supporters are against measures that require hosts to reveal information to the government about how often their home is really used. This information is held solely by Airbnb, which in some markets it then uses to calculate the hotel occupancy taxes it says it owes. The measure also gives neighbors financial incentives to report violations, a part of the measure that even some supporters are unenthusiastic about.

To defeat Proposition F, Airbnb has spent nearly $10 million dollars, slightly less than the $12 million in taxes it says activity on the service can generate for local government.

Proponents of the measure have spent much less on the measure, by some estimates Airbnb has spent $30 to every $1 they have spent. Instead proponents have tried grassroots measures to get attention, including an occupation of Airbnb headquarters by housing and homeless advocates yesterday.

Share Better, an anti-Airbnb group backed by hotel labor groups and active in both New York and San Francisco, released an ad on Friday (embedded above) to argue that the service is more about commercial enterprises, not middle class residents, making money on the platform. Share Better is not putting the ad on television, rather it’s targeting mobile and desktop users on Huffington Post and Facebook with its 30-second ad.

According to Share Better, the digital buy “allows us to directly position our video in front of a targeted audience and key demographics, and is particularly effective at targeting individuals not usually captured by traditional advertising. This process uses the merging/matching of millions of browser cookies and device profiles against voter files with hundreds of targetable audience segments. Using this network, we can position our ad in front of specific groups and key audience targets across multiple devices — mobile phones, tablets, etc. — maximizing our impact and expanding our reach.

Share Better, which did not reveal the budget for the digital buy, is aiming for five million views by end of day Tuesday. It told Skift that as of Monday afternoon it had 2.75 million views.

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Tags: airbnb, politics, san francisco

Photo credit: A still from Share Better's web ad in favor of Proposition F. Share Better

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