The Loss of Community Is Still the Biggest Threat from Short Term Vacation Rentals

by on June 22, 2016 · 6 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, Economy, Environment, Health, History, Ocean Beach

OB airbnb mapThe Ocean Beach Town Council will have a presentation and discussion on short term vacation rentals tonight at its monthly meeting, Wednesday, June 22.

Representatives of the group that has been lobbying city government to “do something” about the disruption to residential neighborhoods, Save San Diego Neighborhoods, will be making at least one of the presentations.

They will be discussing how the hundreds of short term rentals in OB and other coastal communities are cutting into San Diego’s housing stock – and making rents higher and even more restrictive. They will demonstrate how neighborhoods are negatively impacted and disrupted. And even how the character of a neighborhood is altered.

This is all well and good – and necessary. Communities like Ocean Beach need to have these discussions and neighbors need to understand the full ramifications of allowing unbridled short termers to infiltrate the blocks of housing at the beaches.

And Save San Diego Neighborhoods is leading the charge against what happens when housing is turned into mini-hotels with vacationers partying every night.

But, one thing that SSDN and other critics of short term vacation rentals need to grapple with is how to fine tune their analysis in order to incorporate a larger, wider vision of the consequences.

It is the Loss of Community that is the most dangerous aspect of this ‘home-sharing’ trend – especially at the beach.

As we have written in the most recent past:

When a significant number of residential units in a neighborhood are taken off the long-term (30 days or more) rental market, and turned into short-term vacation rentals, there are multiple results or consequences that impact that neighborhood, positive and negative.

For one, when a good number of rental units are utilized as vacation bits of heaven, there are fewer rental units available for people looking to actually reside in the neighborhood. Fewer rentals drives up the rents. …

However, on top of housing shortages, the even more drastic consequence of loss of community occurs when there are so many residential units within a neighborhood that have been turned into short-term units, that a goodly-sized chunk of the area has morphed into a resort candyland of beach, surf and sand.

There are no longer any actual residents in the immediate neighborhood, and every unit is utilized as a vacation rental – every condo, every McMansion, every apartment, every little cottage – no longer are the houses of residents – the human make-up of a community – but of visitors.

Without actual residents then, that portion of the neighborhood as “a community” collapses into a mishmash of rental and property managers, online rentals, private trash and private security details.

For how our analysis of “Loss of Community” has played out, we merely have to look at sections of Mission Beach – specially South Mission –

… where the 3-story mansions line the Boardwalk are vacation rentals, time-shares and where no one really lives there, and where every unit is now a vacation unit. 

Mission Beach So alleyBut along the streets and alleys in Mission Beach and Mission Bay, vacation rentals line up next to each other, taking over block after block of prime seaside land, gloriously sandwiched between the ocean and the bay, dominating entire sections of the neighborhood.  And this has occurred in conjunction with the obvious gentrification of Mission Beach and Bay. …


Mission Beach map of flipkey vacation rentals.

If there’s no one left to care about the community or that section of it, then there is no community.

This could be obvious. But take a walk or bike ride along the boardwalks that run along Mission Beach and Mission Bay. Try to count the buildings where actual residents live. It’s depressing.

This is the same threat, now, aimed at Ocean Beach. If enough little cottages, homes, apartments are turned into vacation rentals, then this is a larger threat to the culture of Ocean Beach than gentrification.

And to those doubter who say ‘it will never happen in OB’  we looked at some numbers.

A July (2015) study of Airbnb and the units they have available for OB showed that on July 8, 2015, they advertised 212 rental spaces, of which 157 were the “entire place” (74%), 51 were private rooms and 4 were a shared room. The average rental rate was $189 a night. …

OB Vaca Rentals map flipkey

Map of flipkey rentals.

Another review of Airbnb in August showed that the company for OB had  198 rentals, of which 141 were for the entire place – 71%, for an average of $178 a day, 53 private rooms and 4 shared rooms.

Gee, you might say, these are really reasonable rates to stay at the beach – and they are – if they were staying at a resort hotel – but they’re not! They’re staying in a community where real people have to make real rents and real mortgages.

Look at the context. According to the demographics of Ocean Beach from the OB Planning Board website, there are 7914 residential units in the OB Planning Area (a smaller area than “92107”). If six out of every 7 OBceans rents, then it would be safe to say that there are roughly 6350 rental units in OB.

If hundreds of these units are being turned into STVRs, that is significant. Without dealing with any overlap, let’s say we combine the numbers from Airbnb and VRBO for OB. We then are looking at 335 units as vacation units. That’s five per cent of the total number of rental units. That’s a huge number and percentage for a long-term rental market in Ocean Beach that is already tight.

The loss of community for Ocean Beach is one of the chief threats from this so-called “sharing economy”. If significant sections of OB are no longer available for residents, then there are no longer residents available for OB.

We need to pressure our political representatives at the City level – who have been sitting on this issue for up to two years now – to get off their duffs and prohibit illegal evictions of tenants for vacation rentals.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Connie June 22, 2016 at 5:03 pm

Los Angeles is now cracking down. Why not San Diego?
Unregulated short-term rentals are a scourge and a huge threat to O.B.
This is a real town, with a real heart.
We must fight back!


Doug Blackwood June 23, 2016 at 6:59 pm

Finally: awareness is happening. Hope some action is taken. I missed the OBTC meeting: what happened?
Full page ads by the “perps” in local papers: even the Beacon!
OB peeps unite we have been successful in the past: “The Boardwalk”, “The Stub Jetty”.


OB Dude June 23, 2016 at 7:50 pm

more VRBO news in OB
So why are others allowed to rent for less than a week such as:

On Greene St. and on” Etiwanda St.

Owned and rented by Dylan and Bre
2 nights minimum stay.
From Jun 19, 2016 – Jun 02, 2017 the minimum stay is 3 nights.


Christo June 24, 2016 at 7:55 am

Same with the mini-hotel at 4738 Del Mar Ave owned by Rodney (actually 2 cottages). From the listing: “This home is available for nightly, weekly and monthly rental”.

And he owns multiple AirBnB’s in multiple cities. Clearly a business.


JP June 24, 2016 at 8:06 am

Also curious if any one has a recap of this meeting – it’s a very important topic to me but I was out of town for work.

The city of SD needs to do something about this immediately. Austin has a worthy blueprint already in place and worth considering:


Hunter July 1, 2016 at 6:40 pm

The seasonal vacation rentals are killers to rents and housing. However, I don’t think people air bnb their place one weekend a month counts – that’s not driving up rents. The pros who own places just to air bnb are problems and should be regulated – own a hotel!


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