Flyer shames SF Chinatown Airbnb hosts, cries gentrification

The source of a controversial flyer in San Francisco’s Chinatown is a mystery, but it is a clear attempt to shame certain Airbnb hosts in that part of town.

Among the iconic lanterns and architecture the posters are popping up along the landscape.

Patrick Conners took a picture of the poster in the Financial District on his way to work Wednesday, but it has since been ripped down.

The poster names a dozen individuals and reads: "These 12 are Airbnb hosts responsible for destroying affordable housing’.  It claims their Airbnb listings are responsible for gentrifying Chinatown and squeezing out immigrant, minority and low-income families."

“It certainly caught my eye,” Conners said. He compared the flyer to a wanted poster in the post office.

“I was surprised Chinatown was mentioned in this. [It’s] not a neighborhood I’ve heard discussed in gentrification so it almost seemed like a new front,” Conners said.

Joyce Lam with the Chinese Progressive Association said their organization works with low-income immigrant community workers and tenants who live in SROs.

She said the fabric of the Chinatown District is changing.  New residents are driving up rents and driving out older generations.

“If we cannot preserve affordable housing for the most needy immigrant communities in the city, it really changes who we are,” said Lam.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin, whose district includes Chinatown, released a statement about the posters. In part it reads, “It expresses a growing sentiment and a reality that our community is being exploited by speculators and unscrupulous players in the housing market. There's no question that there are an increasing amount of illegal short-term rentals throughout our City and in Chinatown.”

Just last month, supervisors approved tougher regulations for short-term rental sites like Airbnb.  Lam says they support that kind of action, but don’t agree with the “wanted” signs.

“The posters were pretty extreme and we do not necessarily agree with pointing out individual players because we believe that corporations like Airbnb have a role in participating in the solution,” she said.