Airbnb is apologizing for a series of ads posted in San Francisco that seemed critical of schools, libraries, parking enforcement and other government services -- ads that struck such a sour note that many believed them to be a hoax.
The residential hosting company admitted to placing the ads, but said they will be coming down "immediately."
Each ad was "addressed" to various public agencies and told them how to spend the estimated $12 million in hotel taxes paid by Airbnb hosts and guests.
"Dear Public Library System," read one ad. "We hope you use some of the $12 million in hotel taxes to keep the library open later."
On Facebook, San Francisco resident Martha Kenney wrote a blistering response:
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.
One ad told schools to use the $12 million to fund arts education:
Another urged the city's parking enforcement to put the money into expired meters:
Other ads called for creating more bike lanes and putting escalators onto hills. One billboard was aimed at tax collection in general:
An Airbnb spokesman told The Huffington Post that the intent of the ads was to show the hotel tax contributions made by the company's guests and hosts.
"It was the wrong tone and we apologize to anyone who was offended," Christopher Nulty said via email. "These ads are being taken down immediately.”
The company has reportedly spent $8 million to fight Proposition F, a ballot measure that would limit private rentals to 75 nights per year.
"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," Kenney added in her Facebook post.
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