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Monday, July 27, 2015

Pro-Airbnb Campaign Racks Up Political Endorsements

Posted By on Mon, Jul 27, 2015 at 3:13 PM

click to enlarge ed_lee.jpg
Mayor Ed Lee, Assemblyman David Chiu, and Supervisors Scott Wiener and Mark Farrell have signed on to Airbnb's campaign to defeat a ballot initiative aimed at strictly regulating short-term rentals in San Francisco. The initiative, sponsored by ShareBetter SF, would cap short-term rentals at 75 days per year, force hosting platforms to verify that hosts are already registered with the city, and allow for a private right of action for neighbors of short-term rental hosts who aren't obeying the law. 

In a statement released by the campaign, Lee said, "The new proposed rules ban sharing in-law units, threaten data privacy and pit neighbor against neighbor. This is an extreme ballot initiative that circumvents our common sense reforms.” 

Both Airbnb and the politicians who support it are quick to point out that the "Airbnb law" sponsored by David Chiu and passed by the Board of Supervisors last year isn't just about Airbnb, but all short-term rental platforms. However, the campaign committee set up to fight the short-term rental ballot initiative is organized and financed by Airbnb.

That committee — San Francisco for Everyone — has raised $300,000 from Airbnb and $100 from 50+1 Strategies. 50+1 Strategies is the political consulting firm that ran David Chiu's successful Assembly campaign and organized the "Fair to Share" astroturf campaign in favor of Chiu's Airbnb law. Chiu's Assembly campaign was supported by a $685,000 independent expenditure from Airbnb investors Ron Conway and Reid Hoffman. 

Scott Wiener's campaign for state senate has been endorsed by Chip Conley, Airbnb's head of global hospitality. 

According to the Chronicle, Airbnb has also hired two political consultants with national profiles to craft the campaign against ShareBetter SF: Chris Lehane and Joe Slade White

Dale Carlson, the leader of ShareBetter SF, responded to the new hires by his opponents: "You bring on that level of talent for a local measure, it seems to me you're concerned you're going to lose." According to Carlson, polling conducted by Goodwin Simon Strategic Research found support for each of the components of the ShareBetter initiative ranging from 62-66%. Carlson's campaign has raised $100,000 from the hotel workers union, Unite Here. 

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About The Author

Julia Carrie Wong

Julia Carrie Wong's work has appeared in numerous local and national titles including 48hills, Salon, In These Times, The Nation, and The New Yorker.


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