Barbara Bry and Neil Senturia
A so-called data mining outfit with a specialty of busting short-term vacation rentals has retained ex-San Diego Republican city councilman Jim Madaffer to lobby the city for a contract to use its services, per a February 16 disclosure filing.
Madaffer's new client, Deckard Technologies, Inc., of San Diego, offers what its website calls a "complete short-term rental platform for local governments that identifies, tracks and reports [Short Term Rental] registrations, booking activities, licenses, property details, and transient occupancy tax payments."
But Madaffer isn't the only former tie to city hall enjoyed by the data provider.
According to her leaving office financial disclosure statement of January 4, ex-city councilwoman, Democratic mayoral hopeful, and short-term rental foe Barbara Bry has been a consultant for the company, getting paid between $10,000 and $100,000 each year from 2018 through 2020.
Bry's annual disclosure for 2018, dated March 19, 2019, says her husband, La Jolla-based investor and entrepreneur Neil Senturia, acquired an interest in Deckard, valued between $10,000 and $100,000, on June 30, 2018.
The councilwoman's leaving office disclosure statement, dated January 4 of this year, says Senturia sold his interest in Deckard on November 2, 2020. According to that document, by then the firm's value had grown to between $100,000 and $1 million.
Deckard has hired ex-San Diego city councilman Jim Madaffer to lobby the city.
Madaffer's filing says he will be lobbying city officials on behalf of Deckard regarding "procurement of real estate data analytics for regulatory compliance, public safety, and community equity." The outcome sought: "Approval of vendor services by City of San Diego."
A September 2019 write-up of Deckard by Government Technology said the company was set up to "help local governments identify unpaid taxes from unassessed property improvements and rental income."
"Deckard's co-founder and CEO Neil Senturia, a former real estate developer who has founded or sat on the boards of several software and technology companies, said he started the company in July 2018 to answer a specific question: What percentage of residential improvements over $20,000 in the state of California are done without proper permits?"
Deckard COO Nick Del Pego told GovTech that another company offering, dubbed Rentalscape, "is intended to help city governments keep up with the impact of online services like Airbnb that help citizens commoditize their properties in new ways, sometimes under the radar."
"He said revenue booked through online rental providers like Airbnb and VRBO in the United States in 2018 was close to $20 billion, according to AllTheRooms.com, with which Deckard has a professional relationship. Given an average transient-occupancy tax over 10 percent nationwide, that should have meant about $2 billion in local taxes."
"In a news release last week, Deckard announced an investment of $500,000 led by Loeb Enterprises, bringing its fundraising total to $4 million and enabling it to formally launch two data-as-a-service offerings.
According to an August 26 2020 account by the Desert Sun, Deckard has a contract with Cathedral City "that scours the internet for unlicensed properties that are being advertised."
Bry has been active in a recall effort against fellow Democrat Jen Campbell, whom Bry has alleged reneged on promises "to better control the explosion in short-term rentals."
"City staff on Wednesday were directed to come up with plans for creating non-sworn personnel positions under the Cathedral City Police Department who would be charged with handling complaints about short-term rental properties."
Following her November defeat by Gloria, Bry has been active in a recall effort against her former council colleague and fellow Democrat Jen Campbell, whom Bry has alleged reneged on promises "to better control the explosion in short-term rentals in her district."
"The Campbell recall is a grass-roots effort to right those wrongs," Bry added.
An assistant who answered the phone at the couple’s investment business Blackbird Ventures declined to provide a way to contact Bry and instead turned the call over to Senturia, who maintained that Bry had owned stock in Deckard but was never a consultant to the firm, as she reported on her economic interest disclosure filings from 2019 to 2021. Asked about Bry’s filed forms, signed under penalty of perjury, he said the call was over and hung up the phone.