The California State Capitol building from the Tower Bridge in Sacramento on Sunday, September 29, 2013. Randall Benton RBenton@sacbee.com
The California State Capitol building from the Tower Bridge in Sacramento on Sunday, September 29, 2013. Randall Benton RBenton@sacbee.com

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Capitol Alert

Girding for California fight, Airbnb retains lobbying firm

By Jeremy B. White

jwhite@sacbee.com

December 23, 2014 09:52 AM

Prefacing a legislative showdown over the popular apartment-sharing service, Airbnb has retained a prominent California lobbying firm.

It had been widely expected that the Legislature would consider one or more bills to regulate Airbnb during the impending legislative session. The popular service allows people to rent out their apartments or houses to visitors for a nightly fee.

Now Airbnb has signed on with KP Public Affairs, lobbyist Greg Hayes confirmed, in the most concrete sign yet that Sacramento will become the latest venue to host a debate over how much services like Airbnb should be regulated. San Francisco has enacted a law sanctioning short-term rentals like those offered on Airbnb, while San Jose has voted to tax Airbnb rentals and Auburn has weighed an ordinance.

Newly elected Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, sponsored San Francisco’s Airbnb law while serving on the city’s Board of Supervisors.

A wide range of interest groups would have a stake in bills affecting Airbnb, among them the hotel industry, insurance companies, associations representing realtors or landlords and labor unions representing hotel workers.

It would mark the second consecutive year Sacramento takes on burgeoning new “sharing economy” businesses that compete with established players. This year Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation requiring so-called “ridesharing” companies like Uber and Lyft to carry more extensive insurance, with proponents arguing the new businesses should not be exempt from the types of requirements the taxi cab industry faces.

Call Jeremy B. White, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 326-5543.