OB Planning Board Chair: Summary of Rejection of City Proposal on STVRs by City-Wide Community Planners’

by on September 25, 2015 · 1 comment

in Environment, Ocean Beach, Organizing, San Diego

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACommunity Planning Committee Votes Overwhelmingly Against Draft on Short Term Vacation Rentals

By John Ambert

Given our recent discussions on the STVR issue, I wanted to give you a quick summary of the CPC (Community Planning Committee) meeting held Tuesday, Sept. 22mf about Short Term Vacation Rentals.

The venue was packed, I’d estimate about 200 people. The meeting lasted about 3 hours and both sides of the issue came out to speak in full force.

Residents opposed to STVRs in Residential zones wore Save San Diego stickers, painted scenes of horror stories and echoed many of the similar concerns as heard on Monday night’s OBPB and OBTC meeting: noise, trash, parking, violence, strain on available public services, lack of enforcement, lack of care about the community, and the systematic degradation of neighborhoods via the loss of permanent residents.

Save San Diego was also in attendance and presented the same set of information provided on Monday’s meeting.

Residents supporting STVRs were also out in full force waiving green flags and wearing pink stickers. Lobbyist groups from AirBnB and VRBO were in attendance and spoke in support of STVRs as important contributors to the tourism sector of the economy.

I could not confirm if the lobbyist groups were the distributors of the flags and pins, but it appeared to be so given the AirBnB logo is pink, and VRBO logo is green. These STVR owners and operators claimed  perfect records with nothing but praise from surrounding community members about their guests. They appeared shocked and offended with residents opposed to STVRs in their neighborhood, who one after another spoke of horror stories and the loss of community these mini-hotel create.

After almost 2 hours of public testimony, Joe LaCava (Chair) cut it off and switched to CPC member testimony. Residents were not happy and claimed they were not receiving their due process. Ultimately, the show had to go on, and when the conversation went from the public to the CPC members the tone of the discussion quickly changed.

Overall, the Planning Group representative were appalled by the lack of city movement or regulation on the issue over the past decade letting it come to a head this year. Nearly all the groups believe residential zones need to be maintained for residents, not visitors in mini-hotels, which has always been treated as commercial use.

I received 2 minutes to speak where I presented a short speech summarizing the concerns and solutions we heard on Monday night. See attached pdf: “150922_Jambert_2 minute presentation to CPC.pdf”

At the meeting, the Smart Growth and Land Use (SGLU) Committee presented a new amendment to the draft Framework, release by Councilwoman Zapf’s office on Sept 17. This was printed and brought to the meeting; I did not receive a digital copy of this document prior. (I have attached a photo taken of the document I grabbed that night.)

I hope Zapf’s aide Conrad Wear can provide an explanation why this was not distributed prior to our Monday Night STVR meeting. It was dated Thursday, September 17 – 4 days prior to our meeting, and ending up being the main discussion point discussion the CPC meeting. (**nudge nudge**)

In the end, a motion was made by the PB Chair to deny the draft framework, keep the new home sharing component from the recent 9/17/15 memorandum attached (which allows visitor accommodation when the homeowner is onsite), and to define STVRs as visitor accommodations under the municipal code. The motion was passed 24-3-2.

I will pass along any and all information as soon as I receive it. The OB Planning Board will pick the issue up again at the next meeting of the full board.


John M. Ambert
Ocean Beach Planning Board, Chair

Here is a report of the meeting from Save San Diego Neighborhoods posted on Wednesday.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Melanie Nickel September 29, 2015 at 12:24 pm

Did we attend the same meeting?
As chair of the Midway Community Planning Group, I am part of the Community Planners Committee, as are you. You describe the the CPC’s action as “to deny the draft framework, keep the new home sharing component from the recent 9/17/15 memorandum attached (which allows visitor accommodation when the homeowner is onsite), and to define STVRs as visitor accommodations under the municipal code”. That’s not how I remember it, and I participated in writing the motion.
The truth is that after discussion, the CPC decided not to take any position on the various drafts that had been presented (by councilmembers Zapf and Cate). We did not accept them, we did not reject them, we did not spell out specifics. Instead, our motion was a general comment, a “sense of the committee”. The sense of the committee was that we had heard two very different types of public comments, about two very different types of short term rental.
The horror stories we heard were about short-term rentals where a house is simply turned over to any number of guests – guests who are unscreened, unsupervised, and unconcerned about their effect on neighbors and neighborhoods. The consensus of the CPC appeared to be that these “mini-hotels” or “party houses” do not belong in residential neighborhoods.
The good stories we heard were about “home sharing” or “renting a room” – having paying guests stay in one’s house while the owner is physically present and sleeping in the same house. If the owner is actually present, they will take care of noise (the owner needs to sleep too). They will make sure their place is not trashed. Often they screen prospective guests before accepting them into their home (wouldn’t you?). The CPC did not feel that this kind of activity, basically renting out a room (short term or long term), was a problem.
The motion did include an assertion that short-term vacation rentals are “visitor accommodations” under the San Diego Municipal Code.
So, to summarize: The CPC did not accept anything. We did not reject anything. We offered advice to the city, as is our mandate.


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