Earlier this month the Democratic Woman’s Club hosted a great presentation by (and discussion with) Sarah Saez (United Taxi Workers of San Diego) on Making a Living Wage in the 1099 Economy. The focus was on taxi drivers, the rise of Uber and Lyft, and the move to contracted (1099) labor.
The ability to use internet services for alternative transportation, delivery services and accommodation may (at least in the short-term) be great for (some) consumers, but the longer term effects are likely to only benefit the corporations who rise to dominate each space. We only have to look at the $40 billion valuation given to Uber, by a salivating Wall Street, who sees in it the future of cash generation and wage control.
The short-term vacation rental market poses many similar challenges and has made strange bedfellows of San Diego hoteliers and progressives. We have even witnessed local Republicans asking for increased government regulation and enforcement of existing code (!).
Frank Gormlie for the OB Rag has written on the subject extensively outlining the differing perspectives in several articles including
and he’s pointed out the fact “that all those grandmas and retired Sixties gens and those large-scale rental companies who rent out their units and properties are breaking San Diego law.”
The strange situation we have in San Diego is that renting out a room in your home may either not be allowed at all or requires the owner to have a costly ($5-10k) bed-and-breakfast permit, whereas renting the whole house is simply allowed. Room rentals with the owner living on the property often cause less nuisance to neighbors and are welcomed by the community. Renting the whole property, where the owner is not present is allowed by the city and yet, may be more likely to cause problems for neighbors and the wider community.
There have also been many anecdotal stories describing nefarious tactics used to ‘persuade’ long-term renters to leave their accommodation and the properties being refurbished and turned into short-term rental properties with rates exceeding long-term rental prices. Great for developers but not good for the community and disproportionally harmful to lower income residents.
These new means of advertising, charging and collecting payment for services are sometimes referred to as the ‘sharing economy’ but it’s important to remember it’s only information that’s being shared. The Harvard Business Review prefers to use the term ‘Access economy’ as Airbnb and Uber are not sharing anything. They are facilitating us charging each other for items we own. Corporations are now making money from our capital and labor in a way they could only previously have dreamt of.
What’s the Future?
To help us navigate this contentious subject we have enlisted the help of Omar Passons, to be the moderator of a panel discussion. Although on the record as a former host, and current ‘frequent AirBnB and VRBO guest’ Omar understands and has argued both sides of the issue for clients. Indeed, although he is a frequent commentator on the issue, his role on this panel is to help explain the laws as they exist in the City and facilitate a balanced discussion.
He is an attorney at Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz concentrating on construction law, land use and general business litigation with an emphasis on public agency related matters (and a strong interest in addressing real estate and business matters for Craft Brewery operators).
Panelists to include
- Belinda Smith of the Short Term Rental Alliance of San Diego
- Joe LaCava, clubmember, Chair of the San Diego Community Planners Committee and candidate for San Diego City Council District 1
- Gil Cabrera, Owner, The Cabrera Firm, APC and candidate for San Diego City Attorney
- John Anderson, North Park homemaker and Airbnb host. Founding member of San Diego Short-Term Rental Alliance and Bike San Diego board member
- Eric Murphy is a Research Analyst for UNITE HERE Local 30, a union of more than 4,500 hotel and food service workers in the San Diego area
- Giovanni Ingolia, Co-Chair of the OB Community Plan update Sub-committee, has served 8 years on the OB Planning board and a former Chair
If you’re a property owner who provides short term rentals, or a resident who lives near one, if you’ve had good or bad experiences, please come along to listen, learn and share.
We’ll also have details on August’s Summer Potluck and BBQ where we’ll be supporting fundraising for the Western Service Workers Association and their Back-to-School Drive.
Members are encouraged to get together from 3:30PM before the meeting starts, please bring whatever light drinks/snacks that you’d like to share.