Airbnb tried to make some jokes, but San Francisco just wasn’t laughing. Earlier this week, residents of the short-term lodging company’s hometown started noticing some very passive-aggressive billboards signed “with love” from Airbnb. As in, “Dear Public Library System, We hope you use some of the $12 million in hotel taxes to keep the library open later. Love, Airbnb.”
Confused? The backstory on the billboards is that earlier this year, Airbnb paid a whole lot of money in back taxes to the city of San Francisco. The record of how much they paid is private, but it was probably in the $25 million range. The reason for the backlog was the company’s failure to pay the city’s 14 percent hotel tax. Because, you know, private renters aren’t exactly hotels. At least that was the argument Airbnb made.
As you can imagine, the company wasn’t exactly thrilled with the fact that they were going to have to start regularly shelling out more tax money to the city of San Francisco. Add to that a new ballot initiative, Proposition F, that they’ve spent $8 million campaigning to defeat (Medium did a good job of breaking Prop F down piece-by-piece last month), and you’ve got a grudge-holding company that wants taxpayers to know just who is funding their city services.