Airbnb-Funded Study Finds Many More Short Term Rentals at the Beach Than Realized

by on October 12, 2015 · 31 comments

in Culture, Economy, Environment, History, Ocean Beach, San Diego


Short term vacation rental on Santa Monica Ave in OB.

Over Half of San Diego’s Near 4800 Short Term Rentals Between OB and La Jolla

A new study out is trumpeting the contributions that the short term rental market is making to the San Diego economy.  Millions in hotel and sales taxes – wow! And hundreds of jobs! Yea!

But wait!

Would it surprise you that the new study was commissioned by Airbnb and two vacation rental marketing firms? It was.

The study was conducted by the National University System Institute for Policy Research for $10,000 and commissioned by Airbnb, underwritten by the San Diego Vacation Rental Managers Alliance and the San Diego Short-term Rental Alliance.

And what the study shows is that there are more vacation rentals at the beach than previously thought.

Erik Bruvold, the study’s author, is president and CEO of the National University institute. Even he was surprised at the numbers as he found that of the some 4,765 (non-shared) short term rentals in San Diego, 54.4% – or 2,575 – were listed from Ocean Beach to La Jolla. 31.7 percent of shared units are also in this coastal area. The next popular neighborhood was downtown.

Here are the other numbers from the report which are being highly touted as you can imagine – but they must, of course,  be viewed as a double-edged sword- are for the fiscal year 2015:

  • guests generated 456,000 room-nights in the city- okay, close to half a million room-nights – outside hotels and motels -;
  • and spent $110.3 million to rent the units – units which have been pulled off the long-term rental market, jacking up rent prices, and hacking away at an already tight rental market;
  • they spent $86.4 million on food, transportation and other retail items subject to sales tax over the same period;
  • Tax revenues included $11.6 million in transient-occupancy or hotel taxes;
  • nearly $4.9 million in sales tax with an estimated $340,000 of that going to the city alone.
  • there are 6,116 short term rentals in SD.
  • 70.8% are single units or unoccupied homes or apartments;
  • 1,382 or 29.2 percent of the total were shared units, private rooms or shared rooms in local homes.

Yet, all these figures – as San Diego U-T writer Roger Showley pointed out, are low compared to the entire industry:

” … the short-term rental figures are dwarfed by what is generated by the regular hotel industry. In 2014, according to the San Diego Tourism Authority, local hotels generated 11.3 million room-nights, earned $1.65 billion in room revenue and sent more than $180 million to the city treasury in room taxes.”

In terms who are renting the units, author Bruvold claimed that the people offering homes for rent typically are seeking extra income, and that others for short term rent are owned as second homes and owners offer them to the market to generate income rather than leave them vacant.

This claim contradicts other studies which showed that the majority of units being offered at sites like Airbnb are by vacation rental companies and people with more than one house or unit.

Moving on, the U-T article on the “glowing” report failed to address the full significance of the impact of short term rentals on local neighborhoods, boiling it all down to a simple “annoyance” of the neighbors by STVR guests. No mention of the loss of community by too many STVRs in a neighborhood.

Plus, the U-T piece didn’t mention any organization or group on the other side of the issue, such as the Save San Diego Neighborhoods.

At least NBC7 mentioned the opposition – but got their name wrong:

… a local coalition is calling on the San Diego City Council to implement stricter restrictions for short-term rental users, saying they are fed up with “noise, traffic and other neighborhood nuisances.”

The group called Preserve Our Communities (sic) issued a statement last month that it wants the city of San Diego to adopt these guidelines for rentals: a minimum of 21 days in unoccupied properties and for the city to place a cap on the number of days properties that can be used as short-term rentals.

The group also wants the city to require short-term rental properties to comply with the same health and safety regulations required at hotels and motels.  The coalition also wants the city to dedicate a funding source for code compliance as well as give neighbors the authority to take legal actions against nuisance property owners.


{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

South OBcean October 12, 2015 at 12:29 pm

Airbnb is targeting property owners as well. I received a mailer from them touting the benefits of STVRs and asking me to sign up my multi-family property.

I’m ok with STVRs if existing noise/nuisance/parking laws can be enforced, and if it does not violate the zoning rules already in effect. Passing stricter laws to compensate for lazy enforcement of actual offenders is kinda like banning skateboarding.


catsmom October 12, 2015 at 1:56 pm

I completely agree with you South Obcean!! I know of at least 5 vacay rentals on my block, and never a problem with any of the guests. Much more noise and partying from the permanent residents there, and some idiot who has a pickup truck full of junk that he moves around every 72 hours, creating an eyesore for every house he parks it in front of! I think Airbnb guests have raised the standards of Ocean Beach way above the typical low life tenants.


RogueFive October 12, 2015 at 3:04 pm

Of course you like them. You have 3 vacation rental properties yourself and it’s easy for you to be lazy and have some website handle all the booking for you.


Lori Hegerle October 13, 2015 at 7:12 pm

I take offense to your comment “typical low life tenants”…..and I would hope that many that call OB their home would too. Lived here for 20 years and was a tenant for the first 8…..renters are the backbone of Ocean Beach and most of my great friends are just that!!!!


South OBcean October 13, 2015 at 1:27 pm

After looking into it, STVRs are a clear violation of the municipal code in all RS and most RM zones.

But the city attorney is an idiot (or just a shill for TOT money) and argues that the existing prohibition on “visitor accommodations” doesn’t apply to it. Judge for yourself:

“Visitor Accommodations – Uses that provide lodging, or a
combination of lodging, food, and entertainment, primarily to
visitors and tourists.”


scott October 12, 2015 at 1:42 pm

Speaking of loss of community and the consequences of STVR. Did anyone happen to notice OB elementary had to transfer 2 teachers and is proposing to teach some sort of combined grade classes? Crazy!

I wonder why there aren’t as many families/children within the OB Elem. zone?


rick callejon October 15, 2015 at 9:08 am

Some OB parents work the system to get their kids into Silvergate or Sunset View.


Christo October 15, 2015 at 12:40 pm

There is a program called the School Choice / Open Enrollment Act.

OB Elementary typically has a lot of Choice IN students. After you get accepted, you are supposed to be locked into that school- but a bunch of previously accepted
Choice in students at OBE got the boot OUT of OBE and the number of new Choice ins allowed was radically curtailed.

That’s where a significant part of the problem is- the Choice In that were not permitted.


RB October 15, 2015 at 1:03 pm

The Point Loma Cluster is designed to give all students and parents a choice.
There is no need to work the system. If the parents provide transportation and if there is room at the school, students can go to any of our cluster schools. Also, OB Elementary is an award winning school, like Silvergate and Sunset View. There is no need to escape from OB Elementary.

Since nearly 50% of students are bused into the cluster, I would check changes in the busing numbers before I blamed OB parents working the system…….


rick callejon October 15, 2015 at 3:14 pm

Some parents fear their kids might languish if they are subjected to OBE.


Lori October 15, 2015 at 4:14 pm

Not saying you agree with that fear, but just wanted to say that about 10 years ago we almost choiced our daughter into Sunset View. At the last minute we made one of the best decisions so far of our life….staying at our neighborhood school OB elementary…..such an amazing school. The other schools on the point are great too!!!!!! No need to not go to your neighborhood schools here.


Tessa October 12, 2015 at 1:43 pm

I saw that sign on Santa Monica this morning and it really irritated me.
For whatever reason, I thought of all the fast food places that seem to cluster in the poorer neighborhoods, selling cheap but crummy food to people who can only afford so much. Lots of flashing neon signs, and bright red, yellow, and orange paint on the exterior walls…
Can you imagine O B with such big “rent me” banners on every third or fourth house? If this should come to pass, imagine how cheapened and less-than-neighborly O B will feel…


South OBcean October 12, 2015 at 2:06 pm

No need to imagine, just go for a walk in Mission Beach.


Lori Hegerle October 13, 2015 at 7:14 pm



Capone October 12, 2015 at 1:57 pm

Existing rules don’t directly address STVRs. “Boarders & Lodgers” as an accessory use, are limited in number and duration, 7 day minimum for RM 1,2 and 30 days for single family RS zones, and to provide parking for them. This is to protect the neighborood. Bed & Breakfast use (I presume this means shorter stays) is allowed with a neighborhood use permit. A part of which may (or should) require notifying neighbors in advance, and a decision by the local planning board.

The solution is simple, apply these same rules to non-owner occupied rentals.


catsmom October 12, 2015 at 4:24 pm

From Airbnb:
A few weeks ago, you signed a petition urging Governor Jerry Brown to sign AB 229, a law that would allow state employees to continue using services like Airbnb when they are traveling for work.

Your voice has once again been heard – over the weekend Governor Brown signed the bill into law!

You joined thousands of Airbnb hosts and guests to speak up for home sharing. Your advocacy helped the Governor understand that this bill was good for hosts, good for government employees and good for California taxpayers.

We know there’s a lot more to be done in California and across the country, but we wanted to take a moment to say thank you for sharing your story, educating policymakers and being a member of the Airbnb family.


cc October 13, 2015 at 7:43 am

I understand the bitter taste in regards to STVRs and I am not a huge fan of the large number of people renting that way… But earlier this year our condo in College Area was flooded by sewage TWICE from our upstairs neighbor.

The first time we stayed in a hotel for a week and it was horrible.

The second time we stayed in a short term rental in OB near sunset cliffs for a week and it was very relaxing. I understand that our situation isn’t necessarily a common one for STVRs but figured I’d throw it out there.


Lori Hegerle October 13, 2015 at 7:17 pm

There will still be STVR’s in OB for you to stay in if the City Council votes the way their community planning groups would like them to…….they would just be in the commercial zones and also located when owner is on site.


RogueFive October 13, 2015 at 1:08 pm

Thanks for sharing AirBnB’s propaganda. Regardless, this company and others like it are still removing housing opportunities from the market for actual residents of San Diego.


Donny October 13, 2015 at 1:54 pm

Allowing state employees to use Airbnb during work trips is NOT an endorsement of changing our laws to turn our SD neighborhoods into hotel zones.


Ana Whitlow October 12, 2015 at 4:25 pm

These STVRs are one of many reasons families have a hard time finding a decent rental let alone an affordable one.


Mark October 12, 2015 at 5:09 pm

Partying at vacation rental next door kept me up many nights last summer. Not everybody is on vacation. Bad enough that BMW’s have replaced VW’s. Take me back to the old days.


Margie McNair October 12, 2015 at 5:13 pm

In addition to noise, parking, litter, etc., I rarely hear mentioned the DEVALUATION of property values on homes that are, unfortunately. situated next to STVR’s! The City of San Diego certainly looks toward its economic rewards – what about ours, the poor property owners being swamped with STVR’s? Who will buy my house which is across the street from one and kitty-corner from another and a half block from five on one piece of property??? Lori Zapf and Chris Cate (SD City Council) are out to destroy the neighborhoods we once had and loved with their “Sharing Economy.” If we are to share the economy, I see what they are getting $ – what are we?


STVR neighbor October 13, 2015 at 5:57 am
joe October 13, 2015 at 9:44 am

I lived next to a few short term rentals for 6 months and found the short term tenants to be reasonable nice people. However, every Saturday night the new arrivals (extended family or friends) would have a get together party with a few more during the week and a Friday night goodbye party. They weren’t particularly loud but still not quiet. As you might expect, everytime they would go out for dinner a long discussion of how and where to go would ensue.

If your regular neighboors had parties now and again it would be no big deal, but living next to one of these places puts you right next to party central all the time. It’s like living in a hotel not a residential area.

Again none of these people were obnoxious, just doing what people normally do on vacations.

I didn’t buy my place because I wanted to live in the equivalent of a hotel. It seems like neighborhoods need to be zoned for this or not zoned for it so residence know in advance before they buy or rent.


Lori Hegerle October 13, 2015 at 7:24 pm

Let’s hope that the City Council listens to all of their community planning groups from the towns within their city…………….and not sell off our communities piece by piece to the highest bidder!!!

I am unable to attend the meeting due to the times. but if you want your voice heard and can make it……do so……get there very early in order to get a speaker slip……this also might be on the agenda at the next OB planning board meeting.

There are a lot of pro STVR’s at these meetings protecting their money……..residents (homeowners and RENTERS) that have not been affected yet usually do not come out……we need your voice…..think of the future…..come out to protect your neighborhoods, neighbors and community!!!


tyler October 15, 2015 at 7:48 am

Zapf will screw OB. She’ll ban STVRs up the hill and in PL but won’t touch OB.


Erik Bruvold October 23, 2015 at 10:21 am

Just a quick clarification to the above article. It can absolutely be the case that STR _MANAGEMENT_ companies are the ones marketing and operating these units but that doesn’t mean they OWN them. We found really limited evidence that there was institutional actors (or weathly individuals) owning more than 1 -2 units/homes. That said, it would be really interesting to try to get at that question in a systematic way – something that would require sadly a lot of sorting through prop. tax records

Regarding “devaluating” property values that is an interesting question. We didn’t find evidence for that but it is also a hard subject to get at. You really need to find a comparable community (Santa Monica would be the best guess right now) and then try to do a statistical study examining long term property appreciation.

Happy to answer other questions folks may have. We laid the methodology out in the report so others can replicate it if they wish.


Donny October 26, 2015 at 10:34 am

Well, I’d argue that it increases property values, since they now have income potential. It just makes it so no resident will want to live next door. Whether it impacts property values isn’t really relevant. The municipal code is clear on maintaining quality of the neighborhood.


Doug Blackwood December 14, 2015 at 8:12 pm

If you can’t buy: say good by to OB community.
Where are working San Diego people going to live?
The majority who make Ocean Beach a great place to liven cannot afford to buy!
What about you & yours?


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