San Diego Trader Joe’s Files Suit Against Aggressive Pro-Airbnb Signature Gatherings

by on August 30, 2018 · 7 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

Trader Joe’s in Hillcrest

It has come to this: Trader Joe’s in San Diego filed suit on Friday, August 24 against the aggressive tactics by pro-Airbnb signature gatherers after all kinds of complaints by shoppers at local stores came in.

The company is asking a judge to halt the gathering of signatures for petitions in front of its stores, after customers complained of overly aggressive signature solicitors at stores in Point Loma, Pacific Beach, Hillcrest and Mission Valley. Trader Joe’s is asking for a restraining order against Airbnb and the firm that’s collecting the signatures, PCI Consultants.

Signature gatherers being paid per signature by PCI Consultants, hired by Airbnb and like platforms, have been employing all kinds of shady tactics in an effort to overturn the City Council’s recent restrictions on short term vacation rentals. They have been documented totally misrepresenting what the petitions are to unsuspecting people in front of stores like Trader Joe’s, but also in neighborhoods; in other words some of the signature gatherers are stating baldfaced lies in order to get that signature.

Trader Joe’s store managers said the signature gatherers worked in groups, day and night, as told to NBC7. One customer in Hillcrest told the station she was given the aggressive treatment. Heidi Wagner said:

“There were a lot of them. They were sort of crowded around here and getting into people’s space.”

The lawsuit is the first court action filed in connection with the new vacation rental rules.

More from 7SanDiego:

NBC-7 contacted PCI Consultants and a local spokesperson from Airbnb, but neither company responded to questions or issued a statement about the lawsuit. Opponents of the city’s new short-term rental restrictions have until late next week to gather some 36,000 valid signatures. 7SanDiego

Now, Trader Joe’s already had a policy against signature solicitors in front of their stores. Some store managers are known to be very strict while others have been more lax over the years to other types of petitions and solicitations.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Lyle August 30, 2018 at 12:15 pm

I have always liked Trader Joe’s. Now I like them more.


Aaron W Beard August 30, 2018 at 10:16 pm

That’s okay, I will balance out your joy…I am no longer shopping there. Free speech people… Love it or leave it.


Peter from South O August 31, 2018 at 10:35 am

Not in this case. The merchant has every right to impose this restriction, just like a merchant can outlaw skateboarding on his (private) property.


Vern August 31, 2018 at 11:50 am

Love it. Good job Trader J’s!


Peter from South O August 31, 2018 at 11:01 am

Moot point now. Judge took it off the calendar after the petition drive ended.


Frank Gormlie August 31, 2018 at 11:06 am
Tom S. September 4, 2018 at 7:21 pm

Signature gathering is an essential part of our democracy. To petition our government for grievances is in our first amendment. It is our right to protest. These people who circulated for Airbnb were goons. Fortunately or unfortunately goons have rights. Notwithstanding signature gathering on private property like Trader Joe’s and Vons has been upheld under SCOTUS Pruneyard v Robbins. It has been curbed by following court decisions. Trader Joe’s has every right to get a restraining order on disorderly conduct by signature gatherers but must show compelling reason to deny a basic first amendment right. I think if this situation had continued and these goons were continuing to be abrasive a restraining order would have been granted. They have been ordered on signature gathering firms in past. Target had one acquired years ago on aggressive signature gatherers. Ultimately a judge won’t make it permanent because other groups will argue they aren’t connected with other groups. If I hear a signature lying blatantly I will videotape them. If they are honest and I agree I will sign. I always take about 2-3 minutes and read the summary. Their pitches are always one sided. However if it something I don’t like and don’t I agree I tell them I disagree and won’t sign. Annoyance is part of the freedom we must put up with to live in a free society. Go walk downtown and I will be asked for money, cigarettes and dope that is just life living in a free country. Learn the power of NO.


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