Airbnb and Its Hosts Oppose Councilwoman Campbell’s Short-Term Vacation Rental Agreement, as Coalition Forms to Push It

by on September 25, 2020 · 8 comments

in Ocean Beach

Jacob Aere at KPBS has just written how Airbnb and its hosts are opposed to Councilwoman Jen Campbell’s proposal for short-term vacation rentals. Campbell, Expedia and the UNITE HERE labor union came up with a so-called Memorandum of Understanding back in July.

Airbnb’s senior public policy manager, John Choi, said Airbnb was not part of the discussion, and the agreed upon changes will eliminate critical revenue streams for Airbnb hosts during an especially difficult year. Aere quoted Choi:

“Our hosts have overwhelmingly expressed serious concerns that the proposed 0.7% cap on the number of city-wide vacation rental licenses will eliminate a critical source of income at a time where they need the income more than ever.”

Choi claimed Airbnb needs to see a change in the total number of homes approved for vacation rental licenses in order to provide a “fair solution.” He said:

“We have asked Councilmember Campbell to consider a cap of 1.2% of the housing stock, which would still represent a 50% reduction in the number of short-term rentals in the city.”

Venus Molina, Campbell’s chief of staff, told KPBS that San Diego is still in talks with Airbnb to find a middle ground. Molina said:

“I don’t know if we will do 1.2%, but we will see. We will see what we can come up with. Right now we feel that .75 is something that’s doable, but we will see what that conversation looks like. We are still having those talks.”

The MOU is supposed to go before the San Diego Planning Commission on October 8. The draft ordinance is expected to be released next week.

Aere, the reporter, also quoted an Airbnb host here in San Diego, Guillermo Gonzales, who opposed limiting the number of Airbnbs in town. Gonzales stated:

“Limiting the number of Airbnb’s in San Diego will create a problem with supply and demand that is also going to skyrocket the pricing of Airbnb’s. It’s going to be a lot more difficult for the regular, standard family from another state to come down to San Diego.”

Meanwhile, a so-called coalition has formed up to push on Campbell’s MOU to make it happen, claiming, “enough is enough!” The group just released a press statement, which quoted Brigette Browning, Unite Here Local 30 President, as stating:

“Enough is enough. We need resolution now. Neither side is walking away with a big win, but we’ll all be better off with clearly defined rules for everyone to follow. For that reason, I am encouraging the Council to quickly adopt the STR regulations we’ve proposed.”

The group says that over the next weeks, they will launch “a city-wide campaign to build even more support for the proposals in the MOU and to push the City Council to take up and pass an ordinance. … the coalition campaign will make the case that now is the time to put this issue to rest with commonsense rules that are supported by reasonable stakeholders on both sides of this issue.”

Amanda Pedigo, Vice President Government and Corporate Affairs, North America at Expedia Group gave props to Campbell’s “leadership”, and made claims that the proposal is from Expedia and claimed “Our proposal is a fair compromise that protects the ability of good actors to use their home as a vacation rental. We are so thankful for the growing chorus of voices standing up in support of this compromise.” Expedia is a multi-billionaire dollar world corporation.

As Campbell’s MOU barrels toward the Planning Commission, the different sides are staking their positions. With Airbnb’s opposition and the enough is enough group pushing from the other side, there may be quite a dust up. Yet, another “key player” was also left out of the discussions: the communities of District 2, their residents, property owners and businesses. They had no say. The OB Town Council, for instance, took Campbell to task for leaving them out of any talks. The OB Planning Board also opposed the MOU.

And might we add, that not only are communities a key player here, they are the main player. The citizens and residents of the communities are the major factor – and they thought they had a councilperson who was protecting their interests. But they found out they were wrong. Campbell has taught them a lesson in city politics.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Avatar Paul Webb September 25, 2020 at 2:41 pm

Not much of a surprise here. Thinking that you could craft something without the biggest player in the industry involved bordered on delusional.

And how was the 0.75 number arrived at? Seems entirely arbitrary to me.

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Avatar Will September 26, 2020 at 4:57 am

Will someone explain why a union (Unite Here) is negotiating with Home Away on behalf of San Diego citizens??

I trust big unions about as much as I trust big government.

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Avatar Jon September 26, 2020 at 1:14 pm

Could it potentially have something to do with the current City Attorney’s political campaign manager Dan Rottenstreich?
http://www.rosekconsulting.com/page1/page1.html

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Avatar Geoff Page September 26, 2020 at 1:21 pm

This is actually a private agreement between the short term vacation industry and the union because the union has been a strong opponent. Their motivation is clear, their jobs are threatened. Our city officials, who we pay the salaries of. are wasting their time helping broker this deal by telling the two entities that the city will honor their agreement. This is a crock of shit. STVRs are illegal right now. The city had no hesitation in closing down the pot dispensaries until an ordinance could be written and passed, which eventually happened. But, they have shown no such backbone dealing with the STVRs. Elect Barbara Bry for mayor and we will get action.

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Peter Peter from South O September 26, 2020 at 5:39 am

Why is the City “negotiating” at all? Isn’t the practice illegal under current law? Seems to me that anything granted to the illegal landlords (and that is exactly what they are when you boil it down) would be a straight out gift.
City politicians have no balls.

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Avatar Gary Wonacott September 26, 2020 at 3:01 pm

I usually find hidden agendas, or in this case, not so hidden. Brigettte Browning of Unite Here is in a law suit to the death against Evans Hotels (not unionized), who owns two hotels in Mission Beach. She has been ready to throw Mission Beach under the bus for some time. But what is amazing is that she is willing to screw her own workers at for example the Hyatt Regency Mission Bay, that historically has been at 55 percent occupancy during the winters, as are the STRs in Mission Beach. If you look up and down the coast, there is no other beach community that has more than 11 percent of its dwelling units used for STRs. MB was at 52 percent in July of 2018 and 2019. In the meantime, we have lost almost a generation of young families moving into MB because of the large number of STRs. The MBTC, which is now comprised of mostly STR investors and management companies (710 has three board members) has been trying to control the narrative coming out of MB, but Campbell’s staffers were soundly put in their place by the MBPPB Chair and other Board members. As far as I can tell, no-one but the Mission Beach Town Council supports this MOU, and possibly the 235 resident so MB (out of 4,000) own own and operate STRs in MB.

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Avatar Will September 27, 2020 at 4:17 am

Really, really good point, Gary.

Why would Unite Here, who represents hotel workers among others, support short term vacation rentals when it screws hotel workers? Follow the money.

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Avatar Geoff Page September 28, 2020 at 8:53 am

The reason the union supported the agreement was because they felt their back was to the wall. The city – council member Campbell in particular – predicted a long, miserable legal battle with the STVR industry and strong-armed the union telling them they simply had to accept some level of STVRs in the city. I’m sure the union would prefer to see none of these as would many other people.

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