Seems Legit

Airbnb Asks San Francisco Hosts to Lay Down Astroturf

Douglas Atkin, Global Head of Community at controversial online vacation rental broker Airbnb, sent out an email today urging people to “Stop the Evictions and Protect Home-sharing in San Francisco” by signing an online petition. Coincidentally, Atkins just happens to be a co-founder of Peers, the petition host, which primarily promotes ostensibly user-led lobbying efforts from regulation-dodging #SharingEconomy startups. In further coincidences, the organization which started the petition, “Home Sharers of San Francisco,” just crowdsourced a logo design last month, and the link for the petition hit Twitter only two days before David Chiu announced his proposed Airbnb legislation.

Of course, this might be a waste of the $500 million funding round the company just closed, especially since Airbnb investor and possible time traveler Ron Conway was named an “honorary survivor” of The Great Earthquake and Fire by Mayor Ed Lee for no particular reason, so they’ll probably get mostly whatever they want in any case.

Linkdump

Skunky Jesus, Stoner Tech, Uber Squeeze and Dressing Da Mayor

Sister Roma, pictured above back in 2004, has been hosting San Francisco’s longest-running male beauty pageant, the Hunky Jesus contest, for over a decade.  It’s moving to Golden Gate Park this year due to Dolores Park renovations. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are celebrating their 35th anniversary, with Jesus-related events all weekend. [The Sisters]

The SFPD is also going to be in plainclothes drag at the party to harsh your buzz if you’re caught drinking, littering or smoking at Golden Gate Park for this year’s 420 celebrations after last year’s party proved to be an expensive mess. [Examiner]

Thankfully, Silicon Valley has tasked the best minds of a generation to come up with new and better ways to vaporize, uh, tobacco. Volatilize and carboxylate your cannibinoids the new-fashioned way while you still can. [Wired]

In more anniversaries, today marks the 108th year since The Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906, not to be confused with The Great Fire of 1849, or any of the other, many conflagrations that have threatened to destroy San Francisco since. [The Bold Italic]

Apparently Uber wasn’t bothering to run basic background checks on any of their drivers, so now you’ll be paying an extra dollar per ride for the peace of mind that in case something goes wrong, Uber can further limit their exposure to liability. [GigaOm(Incidentally, Uber also started charging drivers a $40 monthly “mobile data” fee for the phones required by the service.)

A new Field Poll suggests that support for Proposition 13 might be slipping as young people realize that maybe systematically defunding California’s public sector wasn’t such a sustainable plan after all. [Sacramento Bee]

Say what you will about Da Mayor, and goodness knows we all do, he is a local fashion icon. What does it take to look as good as Willie Brown?  A trip to Wilkes Bashford and lots of money from private-sector consulting arrangements. [SF Weekly]

[Photo: Sister Roma]

Ratching Up the Maturity on All Sides

Twitter Employee Accused of Hurling Tomato at Protesters

Despite the widespread criticism of the “violence” of a protester barfing on a Yahoo shuttle, it seems one techie has decided to respond with an organic projectile of their own.

That’s right, as the so-called “class war” ratchets up across the Bay Area, quarreling factions have foraged for the finest weaponry known to bored Victorian theater-goers.  A little barf here, some leftovers there; now we’re cooking up a nauseating stew of activist bullshit.

The short-lived food fight went down at SEIU’s tax day protest, which marched from City Hall to Twitter.  As Nato Green told us:

The Union was protesting Mayor Lee’s tax breaks to tech companies and the degree to which they have aggravated economic inequality and displacement.

There were around 1000 union members and supporters marching from City Hall to Twitter and back. They stopped at Twitter’s doors to deliver a symbolic tax bill. As we were leaving, I heard a splat a few feet to my left and saw a tomato had landed in our midst.

The tomato allegedly came from open windows in the buildings “middle floors.”  Twitter itself occupied floors 5-11, with other tenants occupying other floors.  So while it’s possible it came from someone outside the company, the building’s other tenants are not too pleased with Twitter, either.  As one social worker from Golden Gate Regional Center, also inside the building, recently described Twitter employee’s stifling arrogance and ignorance to KQED:

Mid-market has changed but not that much. Every morning the mentally ill and substance abusers gather in front of our building. I heard a Twitter employee joke that he thanks Twitter every time he doesn’t smell urine on his walk to work. In his mind, Twitter was making things better. […]

One day there were protests outside our building. “People protest just to protest,” a Twitter employee said.

When contacted by Uptown Almanac, Twitter could neither confirm nor deny the incident.  Which is fair, because how can anyone really know.  Also?  It’s a tomato.

“It’s this kind of imperious caprese attitude that’s aggravating the conflict,” Nato later joked. “The splatter was pretty though.”

[Photo: SEIU Local 1021]

Neighborhood Shorts

A Look at Needles & Pens

Needles & Pens is celebrating 11 years in the Mission this week.  And while the zine and art shop has become a neighborhood landmark over the years, it was a contentious journey to get to that place.  By being credited with creating “the 14th Street DIY revolution” by the SF Bay Guardian, anti-gentrification activists protested the business and “attacked the store.”  Now on 16th Street, it feels like a throwback to what the neighborhood once was.  So it goes.

Ahead of the anniversary, Mission Local filmed a quick interview with co-owner Breezy Culbertson.  It doesn’t focus so much on the past, but where the business is at now.  Do check it out.

Soaked Cat

Photo of the Day: Dolores Fire Victim Reunites With Rescued Cat

Tuesday’s fire at 87 Dolores afternoon was a bad one: it’s been widely reported that nine tenants have been displaced, sleeping at a temporary shelter setup in the Whole Foods garage across the street.  However, as SFist points out, every person and every cat fortunately made it out of the building safely.

“They were really good at getting the cats out,” resident Jason West told ABC 7 regarding the firefighters. “They brought them out one after another—wet and smoky but they got them out.”

[via SFist]

Art

BART Life: Works Inspired By Commuting, Opens Tonight at Z Space

Z Space, the theater and art gallery on Florida and Mariposa, is hosting a big art show and zine release party tonight.  It promises to be quite a scene:

BART Life is a series of drawings and paintings created by artists Diane Ramirez and Stephen Kral that record and detail the charming and not so charming incidents, encounters and improbabilities found daily while commuting on BART and Muni. The BART Life opening reception also doubles as the release party for volume one of Tales From the Tenderloin, a collaborative zine that documents the freaky, fun and grimy stories of life in the Tenderloin as told and drawn by those who have walked its streets, breathed its air, and came out the other side with a tale to tell.

Plus, Lovesick Deejays will be spinning party jams all night, and there’ll be free PBR and Anchor to start it off, with a “full, no-host cash bar” to follow.  Starts at 8!

Gouging Tourists Pro Tips

Will David Chiu Let You Rent Your Apartment on Airbnb?

Board of Supervisors President David Chiu introduced legislation yesterday that would clarify regulations around short-term apartment rentals through sites like Airbnb, VRBO and Craigslist.  “My legislation creates limited flexibility for permanent residents to earn the additional income they need to help pay their rent and every day bills, but not at the expense of converting our limited supply of housing into hotels or vacation homes,” Chiu declared in a press release.

By requiring residency by hosts and registration of listings with the city and providing enforcement provisions for violators, the bill could signficantly affect the supply of units in San Francisco, where Airbnb and Craigslist are both based, restricting or even rolling back inventory growth right in their own backyards. It essentially holds Airbnb to the message of the company’s “sharing economy” marketing and lobbying message—that the service helps individuals and families make ends meet—by permitting some tenants and most individual homeowners to use the service while restricing units taken off the long-term rental market for use on the short-term rental market, which may be the bigger business and definitely presents the bigger threat of displacement.

In a statement, Airbnb called the proposal “an important first step,” but “not perfect,” specifically citing the registration requirement as problematic. So how, exactly, would this affect a typical San Francisco tenant who might already be making a few bucks on the side even at the risk of losing their home?

Enough With the Fires Already

14th and Dolores Complex is on Fire

Because San Francisco apparently hasn’t endured enough fires this year, the big white apartment complex at 14th and Dolores is currently burning.  Based on an aerial shot from NBC, it looks pretty bad:

Stay safe, everyone.

UPDATE 5:25pm: We just biked by and it appeared under control.  Most of the northwest Mission/Castro area still smells like fire, but the smoke has cleared.

[Castro Photo by John Kalucki]

Locally-Sourced Laughs

Reminder: UA Presents Stand-Up Comedy and Free Beer Tonight!

That’s right: at 9pm tonight, seven of our favorite local comics will be taking stage at the Roxie Theater while you sit back and indulge in some free Pabst.  It’s going to be a helluva show, as it’ll be one of Sean Keane’s last before he makes the big leap to LA.  Plus, the always hilarious Chris Garcia will be headlining. (And if you haven’t seen it yet, do watch his set (above) on the Mission from three years ago.)

Tickets are still on sale ($7!), but you can also get ‘em at the door.  See everyone tonight!