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Airbnb Throws A Bone To City Governments

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 11/11/2015 Jenny Che
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After withstanding backlash for its ads targeting spending on local schools and libraries and helping block what it called "extreme" regulation proposals in San Francisco, Airbnb is trying a new tactic: being nice.

The short-term rental company said Wednesday that it would commit to supporting local hosts and governments. Under the Airbnb Community Compact, Airbnb promised to pay a "fair share" of hotel and tourist taxes, share anonymous data on its rentals with cities and verify that its hosts only list permanent homes on its site.

"We want home sharing to help people stay in their homes," the company said in a statement. "We also want communities to understand more about who we are and how we approach important public policy issues, including issues like illegal hotels."

Airbnb has been heavily criticized for exacerbating housing shortages and squeezing out local residents in its markets. Many of its rentals operate as illegal hotels; an investigation by the New York attorney general last year found that commercial landlords produce more than a third of the company's revenue in New York City. And a growing number of incidents, including one posted on Medium this week, have highlighted potential safety issues at Airbnb's listed properties, which aren't regulated or held to liability standards the same way hotels are.

Last week the company secured a major victory in San Francisco when voters rejected Proposition F, which would have tightened restrictions on the number of days hosts could rent out short-term units. The company spent $8 million lobbying against the initiative.

"Voters stood up for working families’ right to share their homes and opposed an extreme, hotel industry-backed measure," Airbnb said in a statement at the time.

Airbnb will also begin releasing annual reports on its economic impact. The company said it generates just under $2 billion of revenue in New York, $890 million in Los Angeles and $510 million in San Francisco. It is currently valued at over $25 billion.

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