Loss of Community Is Greatest Threat From Airbnb and Short-Term Vacation Rentals

September 1, 2015 by Frank Gormlie
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Short-term vacation rentals are on the minds of a lot of people these days, especially with those who live at the coast in San Diego.

The issue bubbles up at community meetings. An OB resident brought it up at a recent Ocean Beach Planning Board meeting. And it was the subject of a panel discussion organized recently by the Point Loma Democratic Club. Also, back in February of this year, residents of Pacific Beach made their complaints about them heard publicly.

Then it came up at the most recent OB Town Council meeting last week, during the non-agenda comment period, where folks on both sides on the issue contended for audience sympathy. And it’s certainly a hot topic among callers to District 2 Councilwoman Zapf’s office.

Zapf’s office is in the middle of the controversy as she heads up a City Council committee on Smart Growth and Land Use, which last Spring held 2 public hearings on the issue, where both sides squared off. The upshot was that city staff have drafted language for a new San Diego Municipal ordinance updating how the City deals with the issue of short term vacation rentals.

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Search for Missing Swimmer off OB Continues

August 31, 2015 by Frank Gormlie
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Lifeguards continued their search for a missing swimmer off Ocean Beach early Monday morning.

A 23-year old man named Brian Wilson had entered the ocean at the foot of Santa Cruz Street, and was last seen between 4:30 and 5:20 pm Sunday. He was not that far out and no one reported that they saw him struggling in the water.

Coast Guard aircraft, a cutter and a small boat went out at daybreak Monday in the search for Wilson.

Over a dozen lifeguards were involved in the search on Sunday for over an hour using boats, jet skis and a helicopter until it was suspended because of heavy rips and rough waters and poor visibility along Sunset Cliffs.

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News and Notes From OB Town Council Meeting

August 28, 2015 by Frank Gormlie
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Caves at Foot of Orchard Bring Complaints of Government In-Action

Here’s more news and notes from the recent monthly public meeting of the Ocean Beach Town Council, held Wednesday, August 26th.

One of the best things of the OB Town Council meetings is the “non-agenda public comments” period at the very beginning. This is when folks can get up and either complain or announce or comment on anything – usually OB-related – and have not only the Council members hear what they have to say, but also the reps of the various elected officials who have some jurisdictional claim on OB, as well as members of the first-responders who show up to give reports.

And last Wednesday, it was no different.

During this period, 3 women rose from their seats in the back, and nearly in unison complained of the homeless people burrowing into the cliff at the foot of Orchard Street. This was not the first time the OBTC has heard of complaints about the caves behind concrete slabs that homeless people have dug. But here was the issue again.

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Candidates for OB Town Council Introduced – Election Begins Friday, Aug. 28

August 27, 2015 by Frank Gormlie
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Annual elections to the board of the Ocean Beach Town Council begins on Friday, August 28th and continues to midnight September 7th. Those eligible to vote are the members of the OBTC in good standing (dues are paid). Ballots will be emailed out and the electronic voting will begin.

There are 8 seats to be filled and there are 11 candidates. Last night’s OBTC public meeting included a Candidates’ Forum where the the candidates were introduced.

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OB Rag Joins Media Call for San Diego Police to Release Security Video of Fatal Cop Shooting in the Midway

August 26, 2015 by Frank Gormlie
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We at the OB Rag applaud the efforts of local media to obtain the security video of a San Diego police officer’s fatal shooting of an unarmed man in the Midway District last April, and we join in the call for the police to make public the video.

The Voice of San Diego, KPBS, KGTV, the San Diego Union-Tribune, and inewsource have joined together in filing a motion in court seeking a court order allowing the media to have access to the videotape.

The motion, filed in Federal Court a week ago, demands that the video – a security camera video – taken by a business near the alley where the fatal shooting took place – be made public and be released under the First Amendment and federal court rules. A statement about the shooting made by the police officer involved is also being sought.

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Push-Back Grows Against Jumping Off Sunset Cliffs

August 25, 2015 by Frank Gormlie
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Close to a year ago exactly, we published a “reader rave” about “Why I Jumped Off Sunset Cliffs Yesterday” on why a 65-year old purported local man jumped off a place along the cliffs called Arches (or just “the Arch”) – the popular spot along the cliffs – on a hot, end-of-summer day.

Currently, the article is getting a lot of hits – and it’s all because the entire “sport” has become controversial.

There’s a definite push-back growing against people jumping off that spot, right now. One report cited a hundred people jumping off Arches.

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Camping on Mt Palomar on the Edge of the Wilderness

August 24, 2015 by Frank Gormlie
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Camping to me is a lot of fun, but I only get to do it maybe once a summer. But feeling burnt by the daily challenges and pressures of society, I needed some quiet time doing some car-camping. This time I chose to camp on Mt Palomar – the large mountain with the famous observatory (which was closed) that guards San Diego County on its north-side.

Taking off Thursday morning, I arrived at the top around 1 pm. Usually I take S6 up the steep incline, but its twists and turns are too hairy for a relaxed cruise up the mountain. So, for the first time ever, I took the alternate route, S7, which begins on the western edge of Lake Henshaw.

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What Happened at the Foot of Cape May Last Week? Was It Sexual Assault or Just 2 Drunken Friends?

August 14, 2015 by Frank Gormlie
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Last Saturday, we reposted a news account from TV Ch8 about a sexual assault in OB in broad daylight that had occurred on Thursday, August 6th at the foot of Cape May Avenue. Witnesses had called police and ended up very dissatisfied with the attitude and activities of the arriving officers.

The alleged attacker was initially detained by witnesses but only hours later arrested by police and led away in handcuffs. One of the key witnesses was informed later that he was released and not charged. There was a lot of interest in the story among our readers, so we wanted to provide an enlarged picture of what happened. Arriving on Cape May, I found “Con” Harris who lives nearby and who had been the key witness to the incident.

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The California Coastal Commission Approves the Ocean Beach Community Plan – Finally!

August 14, 2015 by Frank Gormlie
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Some Coastal Commission Modifications Accepted by City Staff in Final Compromise

In an unanimous vote, the California Coastal Commission approved the OB Community Plan Update yesterday, August 13, in the City Hall chambers of Chula Vista.

The vote was a ringing endorsement for compromise and civil give-and-take between the respective staffs of the Commission and of the City of San Diego – a civility and willingness to compromise brought on no doubt by the crowd of OBceans present in the Chambers.

San Diego city staff who participated in the presentations and discussion, stated that the vote was a “major victory for Ocean Beach”.

It had been a long process – since last summer when the City Council approved the OB Plan.

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One Coastal Commission Problem With Ocean Beach Community Plan Linked to Mandate for Affordable Coastal Visitor Accommodations

August 12, 2015 by Frank Gormlie

One of the major issues that the California Coastal Commission has with the Ocean Beach Community Plan Update – on their agenda this Thursday, August 13th – is that language in the Plan in support of low-cost visitor accommodations is not strong enough.

On the face of it, this may seem weird. Why would the Commission reject the OB Update after over a dozen years in the making on an issue that has nothing to do with OB residents?

Coastal Commission staff have recommended that the Commission reject the OB Plan unless there are modifications to the language regarding affordable-housing for visitors at the coast, among other things.

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Ocean Beach Entryway Sign Vandalized – and Then Cleaned Up

August 12, 2015 by Frank Gormlie

OB Entry Sign vand 1By South OB Girl

Same week that Ocean Beach locals have been preparing to defend the OB Community Plan at the California Coastal Commission meeting on Thursday — the iconic Ocean Beach entry way sign was seriously vandalized late Sunday night – August 9th or early Monday morning.

OB Town Council President Gretchen Newsom has tackled the issue full throttle. And no doubt, she will fight for the Community Plan just as hard.

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The Re-Naming of “Saratoga Park” Hits Snag

August 12, 2015 by Frank Gormlie
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There’s a movement afoot to change the name of “Saratoga Park” – that grassy area at the foot of Saratoga Avenue – and to have it named after Ocean Beach’s preeminent historian, Ruth Varney Held.

Held wrote the local classic about OB – “Beach Town” – and also wrote a column for a local regional beach newspaper.

Folks with the OB Community Development Corporation are developing a children’s play area within the grassy area and other elements such as an adult fitness are – and are pushing for the name change.

Saratoga Park has been the name for the grassy area next to the sand and lifeguard parking lot for decades. Today, it sits in front of the new condo complex recently constructed with million dollar units.

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Special Meeting Called for OB Planners’ Final Prep for Coastal Commission Hearing

August 11, 2015 by Frank Gormlie
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A special meeting has been called by OB planners to finalize their preparations for the California Coastal Commission hearing on the OB Community Plan Update.

The special OB meeting is scheduled for 6 pm Wednesday, August 12 at the Dog Beach Dog Wash community room, 4943 Voltaire Street. The Commission will hear the OB Plan sometime during Thursday, August 13.

Volunteer leaders from the OB Community Plan Update sub-committee along with the leadership of the current OB Planning Board joined in calling the meeting.

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“Ocean Beach Plaza” Approved By OB Planners

August 7, 2015 by Frank Gormlie
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The so-called “Ocean Beach Plaza” was approved by the OB Planning Board last Wednesday night, by a vote of 8 to 1. Once approved and given the go-ahead by the City, the project will be constructed at the southeast corner of the intersection of Cable Street and Santa Monica.

Lee Hope, the architect for the project, made the presentation on behalf of the owner, John Small, who was in attendance at the meeting on August 5th along with a couple dozen others in the audience – including a newsman and cameraman from Channel 8 (on hand for the OB Plaza issue).

Small owns – besides this near-half acre of prime OB property, a couple of bars – Sunshine Company and Tony’s, plus other buildings on Newport Avenue.

The much-anticipated project had several surprises.

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OB Needs to Turn Out at Calif Coastal Commission Hearing on Community Plan in One Week – Thursday, Aug. 13th

August 6, 2015 by Frank Gormlie
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Bus Being Rented to Take OBceans to Monthly Commission Hearing – On their Agenda: the OB Community Plan Update – Finally!

In one week, the California Coastal Commission will sit down and hold a hearing on the Ocean Beach Community Plan Update. That will be Thursday, August 13th and the hearing will be held at the Chula Vista City Council chambers (276 Fourth Avenue, Chula Vista, CA 91910).

OBceans are being urged to attend the Commission hearing and show up in troves, wearing blue shirts. And at least one bus is being rented to transport OBceans to Chula Vista.

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From Editordude’s Desk: Some Props and Some Feedback Needed

August 5, 2015 by Frank Gormlie
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Do You Use Our Calendar Section or Classified Ad Section? Come inside and take our survey

Wanted to check in with our readers, and let folks know about some goings-on, plus wanted to get some feedback from you about our monthly calendar and our classified section.

First up, google notified the OB Rag recently that we are no longer suitable for mobile devices, after nearly 8 years of online publishing. For about a week, our daily statistics dropped. But they’re creeping back up. You can help. Check in with us everyday, multiple times a day – let’s show google.

Our colleagues over at San Diego Free Press – our “kid” who just turned 3 – were recognized with a number of awards for excellent writing by the San Diego chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists at their annual get-together. Congrats to all those freepers and contributors whose online blogging has been given some needed props.

Later, some illness swept through some of the crowd who ate the food at the Bail Hai event – 61 people were affected with noro virus; at least one of our freepers was sick with food poisoning. Talk about getting some bad press!

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The Twists and Turns of Getting the Ocean Beach Community Plan Update Approved

August 4, 2015 by Frank Gormlie
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There is a new twist and turn in the road for the Ocean Beach Community Plan Update’s journey to the California Coastal Commission for approval.

And probably only the most stalwart, knowledgeable and insightful of OB’s local volunteer neighborhood planners are able to see over this twist and turn and figure out exactly what is going on.

The new twist is caused by the recent release of the California Coastal Commission staff’s recommendations toward the OB Community Plan Update – scheduled for review by the Commission on August 13th when they hold their monthly meeting – this time in Chula Vista City Council chambers.

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BASE Jumper From OB Dies in Brazil Accident

July 30, 2015 by Frank Gormlie
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Fernando Goncalves Is 5th BASE Jumper to Die in Last 6 Weeks

A BASE jumper from Ocean Beach has died in a recent accident in Brazil. OBcean Fernando Goncalves was a professional wingsuit pilot but was killed while diving off Pedra da Gavea, a 2,769-foot granite dome mountain in Brazil.

The day before his death, Goncalves, 36, posted a video of a dive on his Facebook page off Pedra da Gavea. That was Thursday of last week – a week ago – and then on that Friday, he was killed making a similar jump, using a wingsuit and parachute.

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Abuse of Amber Alert in San Diego?

July 29, 2015 by Frank Gormlie
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Late Monday night I had turned on the Jon Stewart Daily Show to watch, but by midnight I was dozing and had leaned all the way over on the couch.

Suddenly, I could tell that the TV image changed – and a sharp and loud buzzer sound went off – 3 or 4 times. It was so loud, it rousted me -something awful was about to happen – it must be some kind of emergency – my mind raced. Are missiles coming? I wondered … but no, that image quickly faded – then I imagined hearing the roar of flood waters cascading down the mountains after some dam had broke, but no, maybe it was an eminent earthquake warning.

My heart start beating faster, my anxiety level shot way up. WTF? What on earth is going on?

By now I had bolted upright and was starring at the white image that blared from the screen, filling the darkened livingroom. I could read something about an alert – then “Amber Alert” by the County Sheriffs … and then more text as the image changed. There had been a child abduction out of Oceanside. Suspect was feared to be in San Diego County, armed, and a description of his vehicle was given.

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Ocean Beach’s Newport News

July 27, 2015 by Frank Gormlie
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Comings and Goings on OB’s Main Street

Several new restaurants on Newport Avenue are set to open while a couple of others are still works in progress.

BBQ House Expansion to Open Publicly

David of the BBQ House family, told me that the new expansion will open to the public this Wednesday, July 29th. Then they’ll figure out, he said, when the ‘grand opening’ will be. This has been a long haul for the family and its employees (and customers) as it’s taken 2 years to get this far.

The day I was there – Friday the 24th – the place looked full – but they were all servers and bartenders in training. The expansion includes a new kitchen, a new bar and new eating areas both in and outside.

Not Much Progress at Apple Tree Market

The new Apple Tree Market on Newport has yet to open and by all looks and appearances, nothing much has progressed since our last visit.

New “OB Brewery”: 50% of Interior Completed

The new brewery – also years in progress – is much closer to fruition.

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22-Unit Santa Monica Apartment in Ocean Beach Sells for 2nd Time in Less Than 2 Years

July 24, 2015 by Frank Gormlie
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A large apartment complex in the 5000 block of Santa Monica Avenue in Ocean Beach has sold for $7.5 million. This is the second time “Playa”, the 22-unit apartment at 5041-5043 Santa Monica Avenue, has been sold in less than 2 years.

The complex, built in 1957, sits on a one-third-acre lot (assessor’s parcel 448-092-07 and 08) and consists of 14 one-bedroom units and eight two-bedroom units, totaling 14,978 rentable square feet. It has a courtyard, 22 off-street parking spaces and an on-site laundry facility.

The sale also represents one of the largest in terms of units in recent years – and joins a trend we have been watching of late – the sale of apartment complexes in northwest OB – this sale is the 5th this year alone. (We think the trend is “unprecedented”.)

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Numbers Game at San Diego Anti-ALEC Protests

July 23, 2015 by Frank Gormlie
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Looks Like San Diego Union Tribune Is Up to its Old Tricks In Downplaying Dissent

A hell of a lot of people came out to protest ALEC’s convention yesterday in downtown San Diego. Local demonstrators had their numbers bolstered by bus-loads of union members from Los Angeles.

There were the labor locals, the environmentalists, the Democrats, the progressives and social activists – and many people energized to protest ALEC because they’ve been educated in just what it is and what it does.

There were a lot of demonstrators. Just how many is a good question. And now we’re in a numbers game in trying to determine just how many people were protesting against the right-wing lobby and legislative powerhouse – with all its corporate sponsors.

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What’s the Future of Short Term Rentals ? Panel Discussion – Sunday, July 26

July 23, 2015 by Frank Gormlie
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From Pt Loma – OB Dems / July 21, 2015

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.

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It’s Time to Give “Gitmo” Back to the Cubans

July 23, 2015 by Frank Gormlie
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By Frank Gormlie

It’s time that the U.S. give “Gitmo” – or the Guantanamo Bay prison – back to the Cubans.

It’s time to end a shameful period of our history and close down the military prison on the coastal edge of another sovereign country. It’s time that we hand Guantanamo Bay in Cuba – which we’ve held for over a hundred years – since 1903 – back to its rightful owners.

Today the population at Guantanamo is 116, a definite drop from the 242 detainees who were imprisoned when President Obama first took office. It still costs a reported $2.7 million per prisoner to house a Gitmo detainee. And over the last 13 years, the bill to keep open the place that Amnesty International called the “Gulag of our times”has been $4.7 billion.

There is no longer any reason to retain this chamber of horrors that tortured and abused people in our name, and which begot a human rights disaster.

Consider this: 751 people have been detained at Guantanamo since 2002, when the Bush administration opened it. Of those, 602 were released without charges, and of the remaining 149, seven had formal charges and only six have been actually tried on their charges.

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Poll: Should the OB Planning Board Hold a Design Contest for a New Logo?

July 22, 2015 by Frank Gormlie
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Recently, the OB Planning Board changed the logo that the Board has used for nearly 4 decades. They did this without much fanfare due to the request by Bob Sorben, the originator of the iconic OB seagull image, as the Board’s logo looked very similar.

Sorben had copyrighted his image. His request for the planners to change their logo had been made a couple of years ago in a phone conversation with someone from the then-Board.

So, a few of the current Board members took the initiative and designed a new logo for the planning committee. The new image began appearing on agendas and other Board documents.

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San Salvador Replica to Be “Launched” Sunday, July 19th

July 17, 2015 by Frank Gormlie
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Finally, after 4 years of construction, numerous delays, controversies and logistical problems, the San Salvador – actually a replica of the original San Salvador – is being “launched” into San Diego Bay this Sunday, July 19th.The event off Spanish Landing next to Point Loma is not open to the public but is to the media.

Actually the replica of the galleon Spanish explorer Juan Cabrillo used when he sailed into San Diego Bay back in 1542, and built mainly by volunteers, is being hoisted onto a barge and floated over to a dockside boat yard and lifted into the water.

Begun in February 2011 as a joint project of the San Diego Maritime Museum and the City and Port of San Diego, the ship was originally scheduled to be launched in 2013. Then it was scheduled to be launched on April 19th earlier this year but the builders discovered that it weighed 20 tons more than originally estimated …

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Sign a petition calling for John Oliver to be Jon Stewart’s replacement on the Daily Show.

July 15, 2015 by Frank Gormlie
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Comedian John Oliver has just shown that he is the best person to replace Jon Stewart on the Daily Show what with his recent pieces on the public monies being spent on privately-owned football stadiums, on ALEC, on visiting Edward Snowden in Russia – and the list is much longer.

His humor and wit and incisive, cutting insights and satire demonstrate that Oliver is the guy to continue the tradition that Stewart started – and besides that, John Oliver became famous on Stewart’s show, so he’s a graduate. Currently Oliver is on weekly on HBO.

COME INSIDE FOR THE PETITION

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San Diego’s Agreement With Airbnb to Collect Tourist Taxes Gave Them Huge Windfall

July 15, 2015 by Frank Gormlie
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If you are one of those people who are keeping track of the short-term rental issue here in San Diego, you’re probably aware that Airbnb – the largest online short-term rental company – has just made an agreement with the City to begin collecting tourist taxes from visitors and remit them to the City.

And July 15th is the day that Airbnb will begin collecting those taxes on behalf of the hosts that sign up with them for rentals within the City.

This is great if you’re longing forward to see more money pour into the City’s coffers.

But guess what – this agreement includes a huge win-fall for Airbnb.

Okay, you ask, just what did our “Number 2” city just give away to the online rental agency, worth an estimated $20 Billion?

Okay, what just happened in our town?

Comic-con, of course, which just ended after a 4-day bonanza.

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Comedian John Oliver Gives San Diegans Some Advice in How to Deal With Chargers and the Stadium

July 15, 2015 by Frank Gormlie
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Here’s John Oliver of Last Week Tonight take down of stadiums using public monies in building stadiums that make private profits for the NFL owners – and he used San Diego and the deal with the Chargers and our stadium. It’s excellent, btw, and every San Diegan should watch it.

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The Day – One Year Ago – that the San Diego City Council Unanimously Approved the Ocean Beach Community Plan

July 14, 2015 by Frank Gormlie
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Editor: On July 29, 2014, the San Diego City Council took an historic vote and unanimously voted to approve the Ocean Beach Community Plan Update. This is a repost of the report of last year’s City Council vote .

With a 9 to zip vote, the San Diego City Council approved the Ocean Beach Community Plan Update, yesterday, the 29th of July and in the middle of the afternoon. Immediately, the 150 plus OBceans jumped to their feet with whoops of delight and sustained applause that went on for minutes.

It was an emotional day for OB, with the Council vote culminating a very long process of updating the community’s urban design blueprint, a blueprint that will significantly affect OB for the next 20 to 30 years.

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