How Airbnb plans to be a better neighbor in new San Francisco HQ

Airbnb's new headquarters creates new public spaces for the community. Other companies moving into cities could learn to do the same.
Written by Tyler Falk, Contributor
Airbnb has become a popular peer-to-peer lodging site by offering a platform for people to rent out their unused spaces in more than 34,000 cities around the world.

It's only fitting then that a company built on sharing do the same for its neighbors.

The company has a new headquarters built in San Francisco's SoMa neighborhood (take a look inside). But unlike other tech companies in San Francisco and throughout Silicon Valley who, as Next American City puts it, "pay top-dollar for some of San Francisco’s most desirable places, only to seal them off from the public," Airbnb wants to be a better neighbor.

In a blog post, the company explains that when it opens the new headquarters next year it plans a number of community initiatives to better engage with the community, including: opening up some office space for the community to book for use on nights and weekends, running a library on topics like urbanism and sustainability that is open to the public during "Airbnb open hours," and hosting a monthly public forum on technology and innovation in San Francisco. 

But this move seems to be an exception in San Francisco. As Allison Arieff explains in The New York Times, tech companies are increasingly moving to cities from the suburbs, citing the innovation benefits of the clustering that takes place in cities as a major reason. The problem: companies act like they're still in closed-off suburbs. They're doing things like building on-site cafeterias for their workers that hurt local businesses, reduce community spaces, and deaden foot traffic in the neighborhoods they're supposedly reviving. 

But maybe Airbnb's new policies could help inspire other companies to think about how their actions impact the neighborhood. As all good neighbors -- even corporate ones -- should.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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