Airbnb hosts dispute with Expedia over number of legal rentals in San Diego
A compromise appears to have emerged between Expedia, Airbnb, a hotel union and city council over short-term rental limitations in San Diego, although blood seems to exist between Airbnb and Unite Here Local 30. Going it alone with a referendum won’t does not appear to be a viable position for Airbnb.
Dennis Schaal, Skift
Airbnb held a Zoom meeting with San Diego hosts over a potentially precedent-setting deal to limit the number of legal rentals there, and told them it plans to lobby city council to increase. the number of properties allowed, Skift learned.
Faced with an outright ban from the city a few years ago, Expedia Group and a hotel union, United Here Local 30, signed a memorandum of understanding that would authorize approximately 4,836 properties and permits. That would mean that around 70% of the estimated 16,000 short-term rentals in the city would be banned in exchange for obtaining legal status for the rest.
But in the virtual meeting Thursday, John Choi, an Airbnb policy officer, told hosts Airbnb would pressure the board to accept 8,000 permits or properties, which would only represent a reduction. 50% of the number of short-term rentals allowed in the city.
“So you can imagine how many people would be left out,” Choi told the hosts, referring to the Expedia-United Here deal that would limit short-term rentals to 0.7% of the city’s overall housing stock.
Airbnb intends to advocate for a higher percentage, 1.2% of the city’s housing stock, or about 8,000 rentals, compared to Expedia which advocates about 4,836 permits. Airbnb, which has urged hosts to support its efforts, will also lobby city council for lower permit fees, and intends to argue that the city’s tax coffers from short-term rentals would be significantly. reduced if the city eventually adopted Expedia-Unite Here limits.
Choi praised the framework of the deal despite alleged flaws in the number of properties allowed and high permit fees.
He wouldn’t rule out Airbnb possibly submitting the issue to a public referendum if city council doesn’t make concessions.
“We’ll see where things end up,” Choi told the hosts.
Hotel Union denounces Airbnb
When Skift spoke to Unite Here Local 30 about Airbnb’s position, the local denounced her.
“Airbnb continues to demonstrate bad faith discussions and actions regarding short term vacation rentals in our community,” said Brigette Browning, President of Unite Here Local 30. “Our Memorandum of Understanding with Expedia is fair, finally establishes regulations and enables growth in a transparent manner. We will not support Airbnb’s attempt to hijack this process.
Philip Minardi, an Expedia Group spokesperson on public policy, did not respond directly when asked about Airbnb’s efforts to change Expedia’s pact of union with hotels, but said that Expedia is committed to the deal.
“Expedia Group remains fully committed to this settlement and the collaboration with Dr. Campbell (Board Member Jennifer Campbell) and Unite Here that have brought us to this point,” said Minardi. “We are encouraged by the growing industry and community support for the proposal and look forward to seeing it pass quickly through the board. “
Expedia Group had its own meeting with the San Diego hosts on Wednesday, and noted that Share San Diego, association of short-term rental managers, supports the agreement.
“We hope all stakeholders see this deal for what it is – a compromise that provides much-needed certainty for short-term rental operators, neighbors and the city,” Minardi said on Friday. “Over the past week, we’ve heard from hundreds of local partners and neighbors who understand that this framework, while far from perfect, is a good way forward for San Diego.
The backdrop to the brawl is that San Diego City Council approved an outright ban on vacation rentals in July 2018, but pulled it back after an Airbnb-Expedia / HomeAway and Share San Diego coalition started to hold a referendum to oppose the ban.
Airbnb’s Choi said Thursday the company would receive six weeks’ notice before city council looked into the matter.
Airbnb also wants to ensure that opponents of short-term rentals don’t get any of the limited permits in order to further limit rentals in the city.
“We recommend that the board create a fair process,” Choi told the hosts. “We believe that responsible hosts who have not broken the city code, who have shown that they have actively booked, perhaps showing that they have paid taxes, are some of the ways in which the city could put in place a process of putting people first.