Airbnb to contest San Diego rental MOU

US: Airbnb has announced plans to contest the limit of short-term rentals allowed in the city of San Diego.

This follows an agreement between Expedia and local hospitality union United Here Local 30 to co-create short-term rental regulations in the city.

The initial arrangement was seen as a major compromise between the city and short-term rental companies, agreeing to a permitted cap of 4,836 rentals after the city threatened to implement a ban. The current figure, sitting at 16,000 short-term rentals, would need to be reduced significantly to meet this proposal.

Airbnb discussed plans to contest the compromise over a Zoom meeting with its hosts in the city. The company said it planned on lobbying the city council to reach a cap of 8,000 total rentals, representing 1.2 per cent of the city’s housing, and only a 50 per cent reduction in current rentals.

Airbnb also plans to lobby the city council for lower permit fees, noting that the reduction in rentals will cause the city to lose valuable tax revenue. A spokesperson for the company has also noted that a potential referendum is not out of the question if the city does not agree to further concessions.

Spokesperson John Choi told hosts: “We are recommending that the council create an equitable process. We think that responsible hosts who have not had violations of city code, who have been showing that they have been actively booking, perhaps by showing that they’ve been remitting taxes, are some of the ways that the city could set up a process to give priority to folks.”

Both the Union and Expedia criticised Airbnb’s attempts to change potential legislation. Union leaders in particular claimed that Airbnb was acting in bad faith, denouncing them for attempting to break a community agreement.

Expedia spokesperson Philip Minardi told Skift: “We hope all stakeholders see this agreement for what it is — a compromise that provides much needed certainty for short-term rental operators, neighbours, and the city. We’ve heard from hundreds of local partners and neighbours over the last week who understand this framework, while far from perfect, is a fair path forward for San Diego.