Sometimes labels can be tricky things to find, especially inside political underwear. When home-stay booking firm Airbnb retained the services of the Sacramento super-lobbying outfit California Strategies, run by ex–Pete Wilson aide Bob White, it launched a high-dollar war of the city-hall influence peddlers. Republican White’s mission: “Adoption of a policy that supports AirBnB’s continued operation in the City of San Diego.” Now comes Presidio Public Affairs Group, co-founded by Jason Roe, Faulconer’s top political guru, who faced controversy earlier this year when he was attacked by Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani for getting cash from Qualcomm stadium vendor Delaware North.
The firm’s latest client is Preserve Our Communities, which, according to Presidio’s September 25 disclosure filing, is “a grassroots organization of San Diegans dedicated to preserving communities.” That feel-good description was fleshed out by a September 24 filing by the group’s other freshly hired lobbyist, Rath Miller, composed of Republican Phil Rath, onetime aide to GOP ex-mayor Jerry Sanders and Republican county supervisor Bill Horn; and Kimberly Hale Miller, ex-wife of Sanders’s former PR honcho Darren Pudgil, now also plying the lobbying trade. According to Rath Miller’s disclosure, Preserve our Communities, seeking “adoption of regulations of short term rentals” by the city, is financially backed by Unite Here Local 30, the hotel workers’ union, and the San Diego Hotel Motel Association.
In the nation’s capital, Unite Here Local 25 is proposing some of the toughest anti-Airbnb limits in the country, according to a September 23 account in the Washington Post. “Are we going to allow Airbnb to subtract large numbers of housing units from an already waning housing stock?” Unite Here’s DC leader John Boardman was quoted as saying. “Are we going to allow that extraction to drive rents already higher than they are now?” The union’s proposal calls for a new special enforcement division and a ban on renting of residences without the owner present along with a host of other limitations. Disgruntled neighbors would be empowered to sue alleged violators on behalf of the district. “Legislation that would cost the District millions in tax revenue annually and make it harder for middle-class families to pay the bills won’t help anyone except the big hotels,” retorted Airbnb spokesman Nick Papas.