About 75 people carrying signs, banging drums and chanting “Stop the evictions, stop the greed” took over the lobby of the building in San Francisco’s Soma district.
Organizers of the protest said they wanted to hold Airbnb accountable for the effect its platform has on local communities.
“We’re sending the message that [Airbnb] has to follow the law like everyone else,” said Leslie Dreyer, an artist and organizer with the the Housing Rights Committee, who helped plan the protest.
“There’s a broad array of problems,” Dreyer continued, “but it’s based on a culture of entitlement where they don’t have to follow the law.”
Prop F is considered one of the more controversial initiatives of this season’s elections. If it passes, the measure will enforce new limits on the number of days short term rental properties can be offered yearly and require the companies to report the rates charged and durations of stays.
Black balloons carrying banners with the words “Displacement”, “Homelessness” and “Pay to Play” drifted to the top of Airbnb’s atrium, as speaker after speaker recounted stories of being evicted and the effects that these evictions have on low income communities.
A group of residents, community organizations and tenants’ rights groups has gathered more than 20,000 signatures to put the initiative on Tuesday’s ballot in an effort to combat increasing evictions and rising rents during one of the most competitive rental market periods in the city’s history.
Supporters say the measure is needed to provide regulators with the tools they need to go after landlords accused of evicting tenants and keeping properties off the rental market in order to charge more to out-of-town visitors looking for temporary accommodation. They estimate that as many as 1,900 rooms, houses and apartments are being used exclusively for this purpose.
“We have people who are being displaced in droves,” said Sara Shortt, executive director of the Housing Rights Committee. “We have people who are being priced out, and anybody that’s actually looking for housing in this market cannot find it. And at the same time we have a large percentage of our housing stock going to tourists.”