Economy

Airbnb Feeling Undefeated After Crushing Regulation In San Francisco

CREDIT: ap-photoeric-risberg

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky

Airbnb seems to be feeling itself a bit since defeating a debated proposition in San Francisco last week that could have subjected the company to more regulation. At its conference for hosts in Paris Thursday, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky told attendees that naysayers and critics just “do not understand” what home-sharing is all about.

“People say, ‘I don’t want strangers in my building. I don’t want Airbnb in my neighborhood,'” he said. “They do not understand us.”

Chesky’s remarks target those made by San Francisco regulators and residents, who criticized home-sharing company and their neighbors who frequently use it for contributing to the city’s affordable housing crisis.

Airbnb spent $8 million to defeat Proposition F, which would have limited the number of nights homeowners could rent their space, allowed neighbors to sue for legal violations, and prohibit using converted basements or garages into accessory units called in laws for short-term rentals.

Voters struck down the proposition 55 percent to 45 percent — a victory opponents of the measure characterized as a win for middle-class families trying to make extra money.

Home-sharing is “on the side of history,” and Airbnb is frankly “so big that no army could ever really stop it,” the company’s public policy director Chris Lehane told conferees Thursday, Mashable reported.

The industry shows no signs of slowing down. Airbnb is currently worth $25.5 billion — triple that of Hilton Hotels, and nearly $5 billion more than fellow hotel juggernaut Marriott.

But following its Prop F victory and almost as a show of good sportsmanship, Airbnb vowed to cooperate with cities and pay its fair share in taxes.

Like other sharing-economy services, Airbnb might have to cut back on its boasting and play nice with local and federal governments to avoid fines and the litigation that comes with flouting regulations, accidental deaths, and crimes committed by its contracted employees.

So far, like Uber and the taxi industry, Airbnb has at times avoided the taxes and regulations that apply to traditional hotels, inns, and bed-and-breakfast businesses.

As Chesky put it, “We don’t want to be part of the problem. We want to be, and we think we are, part of the solution.”