Neighborhood Character Altered by Hundreds of Vacation Rentals

by on May 24, 2017 · 3 comments

in Ocean Beach

OB airbnb mapThe Ocean Beach Town Council will hold a forum on short term vacation rentals tonight at its monthly meeting, – Wednesday, May 24th.

Hopefully, there will be discussions about how the hundreds of short term rentals in OB and other coastal communities are cutting into the community’s housing stock – and making rents higher and even more restrictive.

When there are hundreds of STVRs, neighborhoods are negatively impacted and disrupted, and even the character of a neighborhood can be altered.

And deep critics of short term vacation rentals understand this larger consequence, and that is it indeed, the Loss of Community that is the most dangerous aspect of this ‘home-sharing’ trend – especially at the beach.

We wrote earlier:

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 example, 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. …


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.

Even though the following is somewhat dated, let’s look 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 have said several times, that OB and beach residents need to keep the pressure on our political representatives at the City level where – except for the legal determinations of the illegality of STVRs by our new City Attorney, Mara Ellliot, – city government has not reached any decision policy-wise for up to three years now.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank J May 24, 2017 at 3:16 pm

I am aware of for sure 1 and likely 2 different apartment buildings that have been completely! transformed into STVR’s. They are both about 15 minute walks to the bay and beach in PB. The 1st was a 1-bedroom each, 4-unit building. Eviction, bye-bye tenants, good luck. In the mean time rental rates skyrocket and demand of course greatly exceeds supply. For the last vacancy in my building, my landlord ( I still like the term!) was approached by a single guy for a 2 bedroom unit. Fortunately the landlord asked enough questions to find he was going try to sublet/vrbo it for an extra $300/mo over the rental rate. Its out of control.
Thanks for the article.


Will May 24, 2017 at 5:12 pm

My former residence on Niagara was a rental that was sold to someone who full time rents it out as a vacation rental. Our taxes got sent there on accident and the person running the property does not respond. Two renters contacted their “agent” with my information and there is no other way to get a hold of the person. The people running these operations know they are not appreciated by the community and I’ m sure they can make the correlation to creating inflated home prices and rents.


Sandra May 30, 2017 at 9:03 am

I fail to see what is so wrong with the vacation rentals. If someone is able to rent out their home and live some where else that should be their choice. Whether it is rented to some one for 3 days or 3 months you run the same risk of getting a bad seed in there, but with the short term rental the bad seed is gone sooner.


Leave a Comment

Older Article:

Newer Article: