SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Airbnb apologized after posting a series of controversial ads in San Francisco that offered suggestions on how public libraries, parking enforcement and other government services could use money the company was forced to pay in hotel taxes.
Among the letter-style signs says “Dear Public Library System, We hope you use some of the $12 million in hotel taxes to keep the library open later. Love Airbnb.”
Some people considered the signs so insensitive and tone-deaf that they were initially brushed off as hoax.
But it wasn’t long before Airbnb confirmed to SFWeekly the ads were in fact posted by short-term rental company.
“The intent was to show the hotel tax contribution from our hosts and guests, which is roughly $1 million per month,” an Airbnb spokesperson said. “It was the wrong tone and we apologize to anyone who was offended. These ads are being taken down immediately.”
The other ads suggested:
“We hope you use some of the $12 million in hotel taxes to put escalators on all the hills.”
“Please use $12 million in hotel taxes to feed all expired parking meters.”
“Please use some of the $12 million in hotel taxes to keep art in schools.”
San Francisco resident Martha Kenney left an acidulous response for Airbnb on her Facebook page.
I’m happy to hear that you paid your taxes this year. I did too! Isn’t it awesome? However, I’ve crunched some numbers and I have some bad news for you. Out of your $12 mil of hotel tax, only 1.4% percent goes to the SF Public Libraries. So that’s $168,000. Divided by the 868 library staff, we have $193 per person. Assuming each employee works 5 days per week minus holidays, this is $0.78 per employee per day. Since that’s significantly under San Francisco minimum wage ($12.25/hr), I doubt that your hotel tax can keep the libraries open more than a minute or two later.
However, had you donated that $8 million you spent fighting Proposition F directly to the public libraries you love so much, that could have made a bigger difference. Oh well. Hindsight is 20/20!
Martha Kenney (San Francisco resident)”
Airbnb told Business Insider the campaign was not run using the $8 million to fight Proposition F, which would put strict restrictions on the city’s short-term rentals.
Nicole Jones is a digital producer for CBS San Francisco. Follow her musings @nicjonestweets