(From left) Assemblywomen Shirley Weber, Lorena Gonzalez and Tasha Boerner Horvath / Photos by California State Assembly, Adriana Heldiz and Jamie Scott Lytle

It was a big week for perhaps the three most high-profile bills written by San Diego lawmakers this session, and each of the measures has a different fate ahead of it. One is essentially a done deal, one is tenuous with the details still coming together and one is suddenly on hold for the year.

AB 392

This was at one point the most contentious bill of the session. But ever since Assemblywoman Shirley Weber struck a deal with law enforcement groups over the terms of her bill to limit police use of deadly force, the bill has almost been a non-issue, and this week it easily passed off the Senate floor. It faces a final sign-off by the Assembly before heading to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk.

AB 5

Now that AB 392’s fate is all but sealed, AB 5 is in the running for the most controversial piece of legislation (it’s essentially a three-way tie between this measure, the bill to limit medical vaccine exemptions and SB 330, a measure to spur more housing production).

The bill seeks to limit the instances in which employers can classify workers as independent contractors and would codify and expand a state Supreme Court decision – Dynamex Operations West Inc. v. Superior Court – that laid out a three-part test on worker classification. The measure passed the Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee this week.

AB 5 is also different from AB 392 in the sense that the details are still being worked out in real time.

It also includes a new provision essentially exempting freelance writers and journalists, so long as they provide 25 or fewer pieces to a single publication in a year, set their own rates and hours and are paid a rate at least twice the minimum wage.

The latest bill analysis (written before the freelance journalist exemption was included) is lengthy but thoughtful, illuminating and worth a read when it comes to understanding this incredibly complex issue. It notes that the bill “faces a herculean task: cutting through 30 years of deferred statutory leadership, codifying a case that is concrete only in the abstract, and identifying and addressing the areas where the Dynamex test inappropriately fades in the margins.”

And it notes that AB 5 doesn’t do a perfect job of clarifying who exactly fits the test laid out by the Supreme Court:

Beyond the list of specified occupations, the bill in print before the Committee does not have a general guideline for when a company’s “usual course of business” is unclear or prone to misinterpretation. To put it differently, the Court in Dynamex talks of “traditional” independent contractors, gives a partial list, and then talks of “others”. Who are the others? How will we know them when we see them?

It now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

AB 1731

In a surprise move, Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner Horvath put her bill that would have sharply limited short-term vacation rentals in San Diego County on ice for the year. Though the bill passed the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee this week, Boerner Horvath unexpectedly made the bill a two-year bill, ending its progression for the year.

The legislation seeks to forbid vacation rental platforms like Airbnb and VRBO from listing San Diego County vacation rentals that fall into both residential and state coastal zones on their sites for more than 30 days a year unless a full-time resident is on site.

“I was elected to create sound public policy, not score quick political wins. That is why I made the decision today to hold the bill and take more time to work on it through the next year,” Boerner Horvath wrote in a statement. “Our state is in a housing crisis, not a short-term vacation rental crisis, and I remain committed to looking for ways to preserve our existing housing, use what we have more efficiently, and grow where we can.”

The vacation rental issue won’t die with the shelving of the legislation, though. This week, San Diego City Councilwoman Barbara Bry, who is running for mayor, sent out an email to supporters with the subject line “Airbnb is responsible for higher rents and home prices.”

Golden State News

Sara Libby

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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