Don’t Blame Airbnb for San Diego’s Housing Crisis


I believe one of our nation’s greatest strengths is our boundless ingenuity. The growth of the sharing economy in recent years has been transformational in cities across our country. It also introduced issues that had never been considered when drafting our current bylaws.

When ride-sharing programs such as Uber and Lyft entered the heavily regulated airport scene, it raised security issues and other concerns. The San Diego Regional Airport Authority recognized that many travelers preferred ride-sharing companies to taxis and, to its credit, developed a pilot program that addressed the unique circumstances of airport pickups.

My office advocates doing the same for another popular segment of the sharing economy: home sharing and short-term vacation rentals. Platforms like Airbnb allow residents to rent an individual room or their entire home on a short-term basis, provide visitors with a unique travel experience, and provide additional income to San Diegans.

Home sharing has benefited San Diego’s economy. A in-depth economic study conducted by the National University System Institute for Policy Research found that short-term vacation rentals inject hundreds of millions of dollars into the San Diego economy each year, benefiting us all.

San Diegan residents who rent all or part of their homes earn approximately $110 million in rental income annually, supplementing their household incomes and improving our local economy. Their customers spend more than $86 million a year to support the shops, restaurants and other businesses that bring our neighborhoods to life.

These visitors also contribute to the city’s ability to provide services to residents; Between the Transient Occupancy Tax and Vacationer Sales Tax in short-term rentals and roommates, some $12 million a year is collected by the city and pays for road repairs, parks, libraries and fire and police services.

As someone who is immensely proud of the city beyond our world famous attractions, I love the idea of ​​giving visitors looking for an authentic San Diego experience a chance to interact with the locals and learn more. try our recommendations for the best tacos or craft beers.

As with all major changes brought about by new technologies, we have a few wrinkles to iron out. Part of ensuring effective monitoring of short-term vacation rentals is identifying issues that need to be addressed. But it also means being honest about the real source of the problems in our communities.

That’s why I was disappointed to see City Council candidate Barbara Bry blaming San Diego’s longstanding housing shortage on short-term vacation rentals, with no data to back up her claims. According to Bry, more than 6,000 properties in San Diego have been converted into “permanent mini-hotels,” taking them out of the rental or purchase market altogether, contributing to San Diego’s long-standing housing shortage.

As far as I know, it’s nothing more than a myth. According to the National University study, which pulled its data from online rental platforms, there are only 6,100 total properties rented short-term in the entire city of San Diego. This number includes not only part-time and permanent vacation rentals, but also renting a room or a guest house while the owner is present during the stay.

The study tackled the notion of investors buying units to use as permanent short-term vacation rentals and found that this was not a hugely profitable business. In fact, operating full-time short-term vacation rentals isn’t profitable in most cases, according to the study.

If the ban on short-term vacation rentals, as Bry suggests, were to have any appreciable impact on median home prices, one would think that the current ban in Coronado would have lowered median home prices. But this is not the case.

While I appreciate Bry’s statement that our housing crisis cannot be solved by “no one size fits all”, let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that home-sharing platforms are a major driver of our problems and deserve consideration. attention she suggests. Fortunately, the work done by the Mayor and City Council, including passing the Climate Action Plan, funding updates to the Community Plan (including the recent announcement of the University Town Community Plan in District 1), streamlining our local development processes and funding subsidized housing for low-income people, were recognized in the article as steps in the right direction.

It’s no secret that we have a long way to go to solve our housing crisis. But what we can’t do is stop the wave of innovation under the false pretense that it will solve this problem. As a city proud of its spirit of innovation and collaboration, we can work together to move forward to find an honest and effective solution that allows us to continue to grow our economy and foster innovation.

Chris Cate is a member of the San Diego City Council and represents San Diego’s 6th District. Cate’s comment has been edited for style and clarity. Do you see anything in there that we should check? Tell us what to check here.

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