Neighbors Mobilize Against Additions to Short Term Vacation Rental on Saratoga in Ocean Beach

by on March 15, 2017 · 4 comments

in Environment, Ocean Beach, Organizing

Neighbors in and around a property on the 4900 block of Saratoga Avenue are mobilizing tonight, Wednesday March 15th, at the OB Planning Board’s subcommittee meeting.

They aim to speak out against planned additions to the property at 4925 Saratoga, because the recently rehabbed main house is being used as a short term vacation rental – and they view this permit to add a garage and a house over the garage as an expansion of yet another STVR and a threat to their neighborhood.

Pack ’em in there. This is being advertised as the “Kids bedroom”.

The Planning Board subcommittee, called the Project Review Committee, meets usually once a month to take a first look at permit applications for development in the OB planning area. They then pass on a recommendation of “approval” or “denial” to the full Board to consider, usually within a month.

The Project Review committee’s agenda has one action item on its agenda for tonight – an application to build a 918 square foot residence over a 730 square foot garage. The planned garage is 2 tandem 2 car garage.  The proposed gross floor area, according to the agenda, is 1,648 square feet, including the 800 square foot front residence. The lot is 3500 square feet, and the proposed FAR is 0.70, according to the agenda.

The main house in the front, a very cute “cottage” with a cute white, picket fence, is definitely a short term vacation rental as it is advertised on VRBO as having 2 bedrooms but that can sleep 10. Ten people.

A large tree was taken down during the rehab of the main house. And now this is the site for the proposed house and garage.

In a comment by OB Mercy to the earlier post, she said: “Every week we have someone new staying there making all sorts of noise because they’re on vacation.”

The property was bought in March of 2015 for $595,000, according to a reliable source and it doesn’t appear that the new owner ever lived in the main house. Another neighbor commented: “The owner never lived there, it was being remodeled for months – maybe a year.”

Another neighbor said that when she moved in close by, a family lived in the main house, but they were evicted to make way for the STVR.

Planning Board Election Today

The OB Planning Board is also holding their annual election today, Wed., March 15th. Between 4 and 6pm, balloting is occurring in the Crafts Room at the OB Recreation Center, 4726 Santa Monica Ave.




{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Gormlie March 16, 2017 at 10:39 am

For a brief summary of what happened at the Proj Rev Com meeting, see OB Mercy’s comment from 3/16 at the earlier post:


OB Mercy March 16, 2017 at 3:41 pm

The link here is a story about the memo our new city attorney sent yesterday to councilwoman Barbara Bray stating officially that STVR are illegal. Former CA never did this.

One of the OB Planning Board members is a retired lawyer and when he saw it, he made the recommendation to put the project before the full board in May. He said they’re already running an illegal biz and assume the proposed addition will be the same. This limited version of the board agreed with his recommendation to hold off on any decisions until the full board can be there, which will be in May. April’s agenda is already full.

The owner of the project had sent his brother and his architect with the proposed building plans. They never mentioned the front house was currently being used as a STVR. But one of the board members knew, I think from reading my post in the Rag here and then of course, I had proof when I brought their listing of the property from VRBO (Vacation rental by owner web site). BUSTED!!

We will REALLY need locals to show up that first Wed in May to show support!


kh March 16, 2017 at 7:33 pm

The owner’s know-nothing brother and the architect showed. The brother said he and the owner live together in PB. So one would assume he’d have at least some knowledge of his brother’s plans. Nope.

Here’s a summary of the Q and A session between the subcommittee and applicant’s brother:

Q: How long has your brother owned the property?
A: I don’t know.
Q: Well is it 50 years? 50 days?
A: Maybe 5 years.
Truth: The property was purchased 2 years ago.

Q: What is the property used for now?
A: It’s a rental.
Q: What type of rental?
A: I don’t know.
Q: Is it a short term vacation rental?
A: I don’t know.
Eyes rolling in room…

Q: What is your reasoning for adding a 2nd unit?
A: To have another rental house.
Q: Is it going to be a vacation rental also?
A: I don’t know what his plans are.
My eyes are getting dizzy now.

I think they also asked him if is brother operates any more STVRs (yes he does) but got the same answer. One board member expressed that these questions are a waste of time because past applicants have lied to them about their intentions.

The board then informed him about the current sour mood on STVRs in OB, and public comments followed. One board member suggested based on the VRBO ad, that the board may be obligated to report the applicant to code enforcement. I said that based on bookings and nightly rates, that the existing 800 sqft unit is conservatively making about $6,000/mo income after TOT. *gasp* And the proposed unit of equal size increases that to $12,000/mo. *gasp* So if/when the city cracks down on them and they are forced to rent it long term, their cash flow would probably drop under $5K per month. I told the brother he should advise the applicant that given that risk, its a terrible financial decision to build a STVR if they are depending on that projected income.

Later in the meeting the brother had an epiphany that he and the owner might plan on moving into the front unit.
Smells like bullshit in here…

The subcommittee had little or no criticism of the architecture, but debated whether they had standing to evaluate the land use issue as a STVR. In the end, they voted 5-1(?) to recommend the project go before the full board.


OB Mercy March 16, 2017 at 7:38 pm

Kh. I love your postings on Facebook and I loved how you described it here. Pretty much verbatim, with your added touch of sarcasm.

Thanks for putting it so succinctly. My eyes still haven’t stopped rolling since last night!


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