Opinion: Airbnb supports Chairman of the Board Campbell’s vacation rental compromise. The board should too.

Choi is the Southern California Policy Manager for Airbnb.

At Airbnb, we remain committed to providing people with a way to earn extra income and communities with a way to jumpstart their economy. Both are needed more than ever as communities continue to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In San Diego, the new mayor and a new majority on city council face a forecast budget deficit of $ 84 million this fiscal year and another $ 124 million deficit next fiscal year. Their decisions on issues directly related to the budget – including a proposed short-term rental ordinance that will be discussed at next Tuesday’s board meeting – could make the difference between supporting key services to the public and resilience. economy or cut services and hamper San Diego’s post-pandemic recovery.

For over 100 years, San Diego’s short-term rental community has enabled thousands of residents to earn extra income while supporting the city’s tourism economy. According to a survey commissioned by Airbnb, hosts and guests generated nearly $ 700 million in activity for the local economy in 2019, including $ 21 million in transitional occupancy taxes that helped pay for services like as libraries, parks, road repairs, police, fire, homeless programs. and more. By welcoming visitors to their homes, hosts also attract new customers to small businesses from all over the city, especially in neighborhoods without hotels that have traditionally not benefited from the local tourism industry. This economic activity and tax revenue will be crucial for the recovery of the city.

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Councilor Jennifer Campbell’s proposal to regulate short-term rentals offers a potential solution. The initial proposal was negotiated without input from the Airbnb host community, and we joined with our hosts in expressing serious concerns about the negative impact a 0.75% cap would have on permits. Level 3 vacation rentals in the city’s 540,000 homes on San Diego residents and the local economy. Such a dramatic cut would reduce general fund tax revenues as the city faces a record budget deficit, hurt San Diego residents who depend on income from sharing their homes, and make it harder for families to find affordable housing. and access to our seaside communities.

When reviewing the proposal late last year, the San Diego Planning Commission took these points into consideration and recognized that the 0.75% cap on Level 3 vacation rental permits was arbitrarily low and was not an acceptable compromise that could solve this problem. Instead, members of the Planning Commission voted to increase the number of vacation rentals to 1% of the city’s housing stock.

While we have argued for a higher cap on vacation rentals, we believe the Planning Commission’s recommendation is a fair compromise that we can support. This small increase in the number of permits still represents a significant reduction in the number of short-term rentals in the city, but it would allow more guests to continue to share their homes, would protect millions of dollars in much needed tax revenue to help the city is recovering from the effects of the pandemic, preserving an important customer base for small businesses and putting key stakeholders in agreement on the way forward.

Some parties continue to propose drastic changes, threatening to call into question a carefully struck balance. One of these proposals, favored by opponents of short-term leasing in the coastal zone, aims to distribute level 3 permits fairly across all council districts. This would drastically reduce the number of vacation rentals in coastal areas to appease a small vocal minority. The net impact of adopting such a proposal will be reduced access to the coast, reduced transport occupancy tax (TOT) revenues for the city and reduced economic benefits for the city in its own right. together. It is a ban by another name and should be rejected.

Alternatively, we urge city council to consider a system that prioritizes issuing the limited availability of Level 3 permits to responsible hosts who have a history of booking activity. If passed, the draft ordinance submitted to city council will mean that permits should go to hosts who have been good neighbors, have paid all applicable taxes, and have a proven track record prior to the passage of the proposed ordinance. . It has been done in other jurisdictions and should be done here.

We will not be able to support the compromise if there is a further decrease in the number of permits or other significant changes to the framework, but we hope that the existing proposal will find support and can finally bring together almost all parties on a the way forward.

It is important to note that residents of San Diego support reasonable regulations, not prohibitions or overly burdensome regulations on short-term rentals. Shortly after the initial short-term rental proposal was presented last year, Airbnb conducted a survey of more than 600 San Diego voters to better understand their perspective on the issue. When presented with a summary of the key principles of the original proposal, including a 0.75% cap on vacation rentals, less than 40% of those surveyed supported the proposed ordinance. If the issue were put to voters, even with important positive messages, it would garner less than 45% support. A large majority of San Diego want a consensus proposal that will put in place fair regulations and protect property rights, while generating the income necessary to support essential urban services.

The city faces a long road to recovery and we must all work together quickly to align with policies that support residents and the economy. The city council has the opportunity next Tuesday to bring a resolution to a debate of several years. We will continue to engage in meaningful conversations with council members and the community in the hope of reaching a compromise that protects the economic benefits that short-term rentals bring to the city.

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