With Google Bus protests failing to generate the same impact they carried eight months ago, San Francisco's housing activists shifted their energies towards peer-to-peer hoteliers Airbnb and VRBO today.
Protesters from a medley of organizations posted signage outside the doors of vacation rentals. The signage campaign specifically targets buildings where landlords Ellis Act evicted tenants to profit from the likes of Airbnb—a practice declared illegal by San Francisco's City Attorney.
The posted notices warn the websites' customers that their "occupancy here is illegal." They also advised occupants that they might not be able to re-enter their "illegal apartment," although it is unclear when that situation might ever arise.
The protests were held in tandem with a report released by the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, which claims to prove that the "low risk of enforcement of existing law" is "pushing housing costs higher" in San Francisco. According to the group's press release, when existing laws are enforced, fewer homeowners are willing to list their properties as vacation rentals:
Tracking the site VRBO, we saw illegal vacation rentals increase by 36% in only 4 months. Listings dropped by 30% after the City Attorney's office announced two cases against owners who used the Ellis Act prior to creating vacation rentals—showing the deterrent that fear of meaningful enforcement is. (The number of listings has since crept up to original heights.)
The group's report mimics the findings reported through the San Francisco Chronicle's analysis of Airbnb last month. By the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project's analysis, if the city banned VRBO, "an estimated 783 units would qualify for rent control if they were returned to the market."