Dear Airbnb, We’re Dumping You. Love, San Francisco Tax Payers
Air BnB: Last night, you had a little too much to drink and told me how you really felt…
A couple days ago, signs and large billboards appeared throughout our beautiful embattled city. A few sentences and a simple white text lying atop a very astringent red. I haven’t seen so few words speak with such volume in a long time. Signed Air Bnb – addressed to the public of San Francisco. Public workers, public libraries and public schools. Air Bnb is but one of the many of the companies doing their part in the erasure of San Francisco. With many participants in this front, from Conway and Lap Dog Lee to many heads of these companies, we’ve only been able to speculate and surmise the breadth of their intention. Until now.
— Sasha Aickin (@xander76) October 22, 2015
At first the signs seemed just passive aggressive, essentially telling the public of San Francisco to be thankful for the new tax revenue and to spend it wisely. Once you look beyond the simple white text and take a minute to consider everything, we see deeply into the soul of the sociopath, which in itself is a bit oxymoronic. Please consider…
— jessamyn west (@jessamyn) October 21, 2015
The sheer unmitigated arrogance for even demanding credit, acknowledgement and gratitude for something that all citizens already do and all companies should be doing, but for some reason (cough Lee cough) many of the large companies receive tax breaks and circumnavigate paying them altogether. I’ve been told that the only things certain in life are death and taxes, and if that is so, then the last goal for these people is immortality. Side note: If people argue all these new companies and new money make San Francisco better, but if none of the money goes back into the infrastructure of San Francisco for the public of San Francisco, then who is the benefactor?
Consider that San Francisco is the most expensive city in the US and is in a desperate housing crisis with Air BnB rentals taking away over 5,000 units and also the disruption and damage that come from many of the renters disregard for long established neighborhoods. Given that, the ONLY measure we have to bring any semblance of regulation and obstruction to the current housing hemorrhage is Prop F. Air Bnb has spent $8 million to fight it using fear and paranoia propaganda. They literally are taking roofs from over people’s heads and are deviously convincing them to distrust each other. Please notice that they paid for billboards shamelessly promoting the $12 million they reluctantly paid in taxes, which is almost the same amount as the money they’ve spent fighting a measure just to ensure that they don’t have to spend that tax money again.
Consider how one of the public employees felt seeing those signs -someone who deals with low city budgets and underfunding and low wages. I don’t want to imagine how that smack in the face feels. Imagine a teacher or librarian leaving an apartment they could easily be evicted from, in a city they can no longer afford to live in walking to a bus stop and seeing one of these signs from a company who contributes to their hardship patting themselves on the back about how they’ve “contributed” to San Francisco. Let’s examine the word contribute. Not contributing taxes and to the city, taking many needed housing units and contributing to the house problem isn’t what we need. We need public workers to keep the city moving, librarians to keep the city reading, thinking and imagining and teachers keeping the children engaged and learning. That is the contribution that is necessary to a city’s success. What many of these companies and what the city officials, more importantly, have forgotten is that this is not just about a community, neighborhood or city, but an ecosystem and for it to function properly, it needs every part present or else you have an unsustainable imbalance ie: San Francisco.
Air Bnb is speaking to you very honestly San Francisco and they are speaking on behalf of many others. They are telling you what they feel about your housing crisis by spending millions to keep it a crisis, they are telling you how, with an air of self-anointed benevolence, they view public jobs and when they advertise them finally paying taxes and actually adding something to the city with such acidic condescension, they are telling you that they are not a part of the city nor do they want to be. I was slightly perplexed when I first encountered these signs. I thought to myself that with the upcoming elections, that they were shooting themselves in the foot for sure. But, when a company feels the confidence and feels secure talking against a city in such a way, it only says that they have the okay from its city officials. The election is near and I hope San Francisco has been listening.