Expedia signs MOU in San Diego

US: Expedia Group, which owns short-term rental brands such as Vrbo and HomeAway, has signed a memorandum of understanding on potential regulations with a San Diego union.

Unite Here Local 30, representing around 6,000 hotel, airport, and restaurant workers in the San Diego area, have signed, marking a key deal for labour-rental relations.

Across the US, unions and communities have clashed with short-term rental providers over the status of these businesses. Airbnb had earlier this year signed a partnership with the United Brotherhood of Joiners and Carpenters in New York, as an opportunity to improve relations with the city.

Expedia’s deal is unique, as it marks the first time that an OTA and a labour union have partnered. According to city council representatives, Airbnb was invited to join the agreement, but has not made a decision as of yet.

Amanda Pedigo, VP government and corporate affairs, North America for Expedia told OB Rag: “Short-term rentals are a vital part of San Diego’s economy, contributing nearly $32 million annually to the city’s general fund through local taxes alone. Yet, for far too long, local vacation rental homeowners and managers have been kept in regulatory limbo.

“This compromise provides our partners with the long-term certainty they need to legally operate in the city. We are hopeful this proposal will be adopted by Council soon,” she added.

The city of San Diego has been battling with short-term rental providers for the better part of the last five years, reaching its peak in 2018 when an attempt at litigation led to Airbnb threatening a referendum. In the agreement between the two parties, short-term rentals would receive an enshrinement in law in exchange for programmes on affordable housing, a reduction in real estate speculation and the protection of many hotel jobs.

In the new agreement, nearly 10,000 properties would return to the housing market, and the number of rental units in the city would be capped at .7 per cent of total stock, save the popular Mission Beach neighbourhood. The city council goes to recess in August, meaning it may be some time until an ordinance is in place.

Unite Here Local 30 president Brigette Browning said: “This proposal is a fair compromise that protects hotel and hospitality workers and establishes real enforcement mechanisms to remove bad actors. We look forward to the City Council considering this proposal in the near future.”