OB’s Walk of Shame – Highlighting Vacation Rentals in the Heart of the Ocean Beach Airbnb Empire

by on November 30, 2017 · 34 comments

in Ocean Beach

At a rally against short term vacation rentals in Ocean Beach, the OB Rag led protesters on a “Walk of Shame” down Abbott Street where vacation rentals were pointed out along the 4-block tour. It was called the “heart of the Airbnb Empire.”

Here is the text of that tour and photos of the short term rentals highlighted along the way.

Voltaire & Abbott – The Poster child for STVR redevelopment. 3 homes lifted in as modular units have been turned into vacation rentals here. It is reported the units have upstairs “offices” which can be turned into their own rental. When the project appeared before the OB Planning Board, the owner promised he would live in one unit and his mother in another. They now go for $299 a night. The owners live in Poway.

5052-5056 Muir. The owner does have an address on site. Property purchased in 1994, and owner rents out 3 other units on airbnb.

2101 – 07 Abbott, 4 units recently rehabbed and are now vacation rentals. The building is owned Briarcliff Investments LLC, based out of Turlock, CA. ; Oral Surgeon Victor Pak just bought the place in April for $1.3 million and turned title in September 2017 to Briarcliff, with no sale price disclosed. Pak is member of Briarcliff.  Work done recently include exterior paint job; interior paint; fancy railings, french doors; a fancy patio. AC units.  Reportedly, the  units were occupied then in April and renting for $1450-$1850 a month. All residents were evicted.

From the corner at Abbott and Brighton, the first 3 lots to the east on the north side of Brighton are vacation rentals.  The 2nd one has 4 on one lot.

5080-5086 Brighton. Purchased in 2004. The owner lives in Point Loma. 4 stvrs here.

5070-5078 Brighton Another to the right, duplex with owner in front.

5117-5119 Brighton.   Purchased Dec 2015.  The owner has 11 properties in San Diego and 5 airbnbs, lives in Ramona.

5132-5134 Brighton 2 airbnbs – purchased 2014. Owner lives in North Park.

5140-5142 Brighton on the left has 2 vrbos, purchased in 2017 but was still a stvr before that.  Owner is in Ramona, has 10 other investment properties and 5 airbnbs.

5112 Saratoga Property purchased in 2014, has 4 Airbnbs here. Owned by real estate company in Reno.

Abbott and Saratoga Condos The million dollar condos, VEER, is across the street, at Abbott and Saratoga; has 6 of its 10 units listed on STVR sites.

5058-5066 Saratoga   3 lots, 3 different owners (Northern Calif, Point Loma, unknown).  2 where purchased in 2016, 2017. 5 of the 6 homes are full time STVRs.

 

……………

 

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Pedro November 30, 2017 at 3:04 pm

In September of 2014 I stood before the OB planning board and presented my project: Three on Abbott. There was a lively discussion about a range of issues. Short Term Vacation Rentals was not one of them. They weren’t on our radar in 2014 and I don’t think they were on anyone else’s. The OB Rag’s own article on our presentation doesn’t once mention short term rentals:
https://obrag.org/2014/09/ob-planning-board-approves-3-two-story-residences-on-abbott-and-voltaire/#
None of us live in Poway or Turlock or Lemon Grove, or wherever else you’ve been claiming lately, either.

At that meeting I was clear about the fact none of the owners in the project would be living there. A mother would be living in a unit? Where in the world was that pulled from? Our plan at the time was to sell two of the units and keep one within the partnership. I made a comment saying I didn’t want my name appearing in the “Rag” a year from then saying I said I’d be living there. Everyone chuckled. You chose to report in that same article that one of us would reside in one of these homes anyway. I don’t know why.
I quickly denied that and provided clarification as soon as the article went up. I’m therefore in writing since September of 2014 on your own article refuting the fact anyone involved in the project would be living there. Yet you chose to hold a protest in front of my units and make this false claim over a megaphone, again. How many times will you repeat this lie? Here’s a link to my comment for good measure.
https://obrag.org/2014/09/ob-planning-board-approves-3-two-story-residences-on-abbott-and-voltaire/#comment-331966
The first one on the article, September 4, 2014 at 11:59am according to your own website.

In the three years it took to develop this project to completion a lot changed. The economy changed, the discourse over STVR’s changed, and so did our plans. We as a partnership developing these units always had plans to utilize the upcoming Small Lot Subdivision Ordinance to split the lot and sell at least two of the units. The Small Lot Subdivision Ordinance was adopted into the Municipal Code in January of 2016 and in anticipation we put forward a permit application to utilize it on our project in November of 2015. PTS#454055.
Early feelers we put out for the sale of the units all came back with one overarching theme: buyers were looking to utilize them as short term rentals. Finalizing completion of the project and unable to get a clear answer on how long or how expensive splitting the lot to allow the sale of the homes individually would take, we decided we’d rent them short-term ourselves. As of November 30, 2017, the city still has not approved a single Small Lot Subdivision. It’s been nearly two years since the ordinance was adopted.

You stood in front of our homes and claimed over the loudspeaker that every short term rental has tenants that were kicked out of it. Except for these, that you chose to protest in front of. We haven’t displaced anyone. Other allegations over things I’ve said have since appeared in the ‘Ocean Beach!!!’ facebook group and other places, alleging I claimed I was a local and that I promised these would be long-term rentals. I didn’t. That I can host 51 people here at the same time. I can’t. That my kids were selling lemonade around the neighborhood last summer. They weren’t. I challenge you to prove any of it. I’ve never made any of these claims.

You may not like what we chose to build here. You may not like what we’ve chosen to do with the place but you could at least be honest about it. I contend that I’m a better operator for these units than an owner who’s out of town and out of touch. I’ve spent time here, I still love it here. My family still utilizes the property, as do the other families involved in the project. We screen guests well and do our best to remain respectful of our neighbors. We have friends on all sides of the property that call us with concerns, that help us with maintenance and that help us keep an eye on things. If I’m not staying there I’m still there nearly weekly doing odds and ends around the property. I’m not the nightmare vacation rental owner you paint. Your ‘walk of shame’ didn’t head North towards W. Point Loma and Lotus Streets where vacation rentals have existed peacefully in this neighborhood for decades, with owners who subsidize their ownership with short term rentals. With owners who love this community and still vacation here. Probably for good reason. You know they’re a poor example of the outrage you’re trying to stir. OB has bigger issues when it comes to affordable housing than my three units. The municipal code has been cutting OB’s density in half since the 70’s. I posted about it here a long long time ago:
https://obrag.org/2014/05/planning-commission-approves-ob-plan-update-but-with-new-language-that-guts-its-teeth-on-variances/#comment-311388
I’ve attempted to get the planning board interested in addressing that. You went through a 12-year community plan update that didn’t address density. Your efforts would be better spent elsewhere.

Good luck on the 12th.

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AMH November 30, 2017 at 5:28 pm

I live in the cottages directly behind your property and while I am a very heavy sleeper, keep my windows closed and have 2 fans going at all times, the bachelorette parties and other groups, etc have definitely kept my neighbors up. It would be great if you provided contact information for your neighbors so we can let you know about unruly guests. I haven’t been here long but based on what I hear from last year, I might as well plan on keeping SDPD on speed dial if I plan to be well rested for work.

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SaneVoice December 1, 2017 at 12:09 pm

Pedro, if it’s not true, then lawyer up and prove it. You deserve every ounce of vitriol you receive. OB looks forward to the day when you and your fellow greedy outliers are forced to shutter your illegal hotels.

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triggerfinger December 1, 2017 at 7:13 pm

comon guys, let the man destroy the community in peace. With his trio of 1 bedroom (+office) boxes that sleeps 33 people and has 5 parking spaces.

Those roof decks are for reading quietly, no parties ever happen up there.

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edwin decker December 2, 2017 at 7:18 pm

Hey Pedro, I apologize for identifying your situation as one of the “bad ones” – I just assumed the reporting on your situation–that you promised to live on site with your mother — was accurate. I’m inclined to believe your story here, given the articles you cite, and that the specifics were also inaccurately reported on the photo of my units.

I made the mistake of leaping to judgment, which is one of the problems with this article, and many of the responses to it, and why I’m apologizing. Such as “SaneVoice” who suggested you need to lawyer up to prove false allegations. I guess that’s the state of media today – newspaper articles can be as inaccurate as they want because the onus is on us to prove otherwise. That’s too bad.

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Elliott November 30, 2017 at 3:37 pm

5063 Brighton is also an AirBnB. Different group in there every other week.

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Elliott December 1, 2017 at 11:56 am

Sorry, I meant to say 5063 Long Branch, not Brighton.

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Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie November 30, 2017 at 4:07 pm

Was sent this by a friend: “Noticed you missed one. The 2br1ba house next door to the Briarcliff apartments (heading north) has been a full time STVR for about a year. “

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Seth November 30, 2017 at 7:56 pm

We lived in 5066 Saratoga for 7-8 years, many of which I served on the OB Planning Board. The long-time, local landlords were very nice but getting up in years. They and their (local) son did a ton of work to improve both units on the the property and kept it from falling into irreversible disrepair.

While we lived there, the (yellow) house next door at 5060 Saratoga at was sold. The tenants at the time, who were OB to the core, told us that the place was so run-down that they hoped the new owners would tear it down. The couple who bought it were military vets of distinguished service who invested a ton of money to not only buy the property and restore both units on-site, but to do so in a craftsman cottage style. It was then a vacation rental for the last 4-5 years that we lived there, but they were very responsible about who the rented to, in my opinion.

Both owners could have and maybe should have done tear-downs and built 2-story monstrosities such as which are legal in OB within FAR limits in OB. They chose not to at their own economic loss, and IMO deserve credit for restoring their properties at cottage scale, even if they did have to turn to the rental market to recoup their investment in this properties. I mean, even the *back* units on both of these properties are still 1-story.

All you need to do is look next door at the blue-and-white, art deco shitpile at 5058 Saratoga, or better yet, the nearby Abbott and Saratoga condos, to see what was possible under the existing code.

P.S. Disappointed that the owner/builder of the Voltaire and Abbott properties doesn’t live there. I voted for that one. Even though I based exactly 0% of that decision on whether they would follow through with their claim to live there, it still sucks that they said so and then didn’t, if that is actually the case.

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Pedro November 30, 2017 at 8:27 pm

I’m certain I didn’t, Seth. Please see my earlier comment on this article. Of the many projects you saw while sitting on that board I won’t blame you for not remembering. However it was my first planning board presentation and I remember it well.

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Mike day November 30, 2017 at 9:56 pm

High lighting What We The People can do with their OWN PROPERTY aka Capitalists !These Americans are making Money ,paying Taxes ,Creating Jobs and you poor Communist can’t stand any one doing what is Known as making Money !

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Mari December 1, 2017 at 2:55 pm

I have absolutely no problem with owners renting their properties month to month or longer for fair market value. Ocean Beach is not a resort town and therefore vacation rentals should not be permitted. Students, young people, senior citizens, & families live here all year around. The Inn at Sunset Cliffs, OB Hotel & Ocean Villa Inn all provide wonderful accommodations for our out of town visitors.

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kh December 1, 2017 at 6:59 pm

Damn straight. I’m gonna open a strip club on my residential property and anyone that tries to stop me is a pinko commie! ‘murica!!!

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Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie December 1, 2017 at 11:18 am

I should add that several local participants in our “Walk of Shame” said there were a number of STVRs down the 5100 block of Cape May Ave.

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Mara Duvall December 1, 2017 at 6:29 pm

I stayed at the end of Brighton and the beach for all of August. I was a renter. paid over 10000 for the month. spent lots of money at local coffee and cafes. I had to contend with the homeless in the parks next to me and for 3 days a homeless put a tent under my patio. don’t think your problem is paying renters but homeless. I will not be coming back with my money but will leave Calif to the illegals and homeless. over the last 5 years I have spent over 20000 to rent in the summer. I will take my money to someplace safe for a 74 year old woman and her 13 pound dog. so sad that ca used to be a beautiful place. so me and my 20 to 30 thousand a year will move on. so have fun with the homeless.

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Mari December 2, 2017 at 11:42 am

Excellent Point and with more vacation rentals come more homeless.

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edwin decker December 1, 2017 at 8:19 pm

First of all, Mr. Gormlie, a correction is in order.

The owner of 5052 – 5056 (4 units) on Muir Ave – which is my family and I – does not live in one unit and “rent out three on AirBnB.” The fact is that the owner (me) lives in one unit, rents out another unit to a long term resident, and are renting the other two on AirBnB. A minor distinction perhaps but relevant to my next point which is that I resent your lumping all of us vacation rental owners as being “shameful.”

Yes, absolutely, some of these folk have been predatory, like the first one on your list on Voltaire and Abbott. I was disgusted to learn that the owner promised to occupy it, but clearly lied in order to get approval to build that monstrosity. Yeah, there are plenty of those types of owners who might deserve the moniker of “shameful” but there are lots of others you lumped in on that list, including my family and I, who have done nothing shameful at all.

For starters, we converted our first unit many years ago, before any of us had even heard of AirBnB. We were just going along renting long term leases until a good friend, who was renting out their little granny shack in back as a vacation rental, told us about the benefits of Short Term Vacation Rentals (STVR) setup. This was back at a time when we were still struggling to pay our bills and had yet to withdraw any significant profit from a property we had owned since 1994.

So, after a few months of milling it around, we decided to go for it. All of our units were occupied at the time so we waited a few more months for someone to move out on their own accord and when they did, converted it to a vacation rental. It was a success instantly, so we waited for another unit to open and converted that, which was also successful. We never kicked anyone out, and we never will kick out remaining, current tenants, who have been told in no uncertain terms that they are safe from eviction.

Furthermore, when we started doing this, the STVR explosion had yet to happen. So there was no accompanying outrage, no media frenzy, no pushback at all really because it was still a non-issue. When we went into it we had no idea that we were potentially contributing to a housing shortage in our beloved Ocean Beach. It just never occurred to us that these two rentals would affect that in any significant way. We were just trying to pay some bills and possibly build ourselves a little cushion, which we never had prior, to protect ourselves in the event of a catastrophe or long term vacancies. It was only after we invested around 30 thousand dollars into converting, and had been operating for over a year or so, when the STVR explosion occurred (I guess you can say we were part of it), and subsequent media pushback, so this notion that we have acted shamefully is preposterous.

That said, my family and I fully understand the issues and concerns of the anti-STVR movement and don’t necessarily believe in the, “It’s-My-Property-I’ll-Do-What-I-Want-With-It” mantra. I get that that there is a system in place that allows me and mine to even own property and, like everything else in our society, restrictions are necessary in order for a community to thrive. That’s why I’m all for common sense restrictions, and a cease and desist of all these big companies coming in and buying large 20 or 30-unit structures and converting them all to vacation rentals. Yes, there should be caps and requirements and enforcement and taxation etc. but just don’t reduce what is a nuanced situation, with good and bad arguments on both sides, to a one word attack of “shameful” at everyone who happens to own one of these things. It’s a case by case scenario and our case is very different from that of Voltaire and Abbot.

Thanks for listening,
Edwin Decker
STVR co-owner and (mostly) shameless OBecian

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Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie December 2, 2017 at 12:04 pm

Thanks Mr Decker for your response.

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edwin decker December 2, 2017 at 12:59 pm

Thanks Frank. FYI – I’m being told by multiple parties that they are not able to view my response. Is there a review process before it gets published or something?

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triggerfinger December 3, 2017 at 8:27 pm

There are no big investors in OB converting 20-30 unit buildings into vacation rentals. Yet.

It’s hundreds of people like you, making a little extra at the expense of the community. Doesn’t seem like a big deal, it’s only 1% of the housing. or 2%, now 5%, no I mean 6%… Or hey, maybe 30% like mission beach. Death of OB by 1,000 cuts.

Whether you fired the first shot or the last, I really don’t see the difference.

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edwin decker December 3, 2017 at 10:49 pm

That is why we need common sense restrictions – a compromise between property rights and community health. In moderate doses, STVR’s are a good thing to any given community. It’s only when they mushroom out of control that the negatives outweigh the positives. I’m all for a compromise.

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retired botanist December 2, 2017 at 2:30 pm

Sooooo Mr. Decker, given your hair-splitting explanation that only 50% of your property is STVR instead of 75%, your professed dedication to OB, your clear understanding of the critical housing problem, and the presumed end of your “bill-paying struggle” after “now years ago” (your phrase) 30K STVR investments, why don’t you now rent those two units to long-term occupants instead?
Between your ‘don’t lump me in” scenario and Pedro’s ridiculous, overstated defensiveness, I’m sure you’re both “all in” for the legalization, caps and requirements, and elimination of STVR providers bigger than yourselves. At the end of the day, from your corner, STVRs in residential sections of OB are here to stay, aren’t they?
There’s nothing nuanced in my mind. You’re either part of the problem or part of the solution. Sorry, but I’ll stick with Frank’s adjective. And a bit of a shame that your single, remaining long-term tenant lives next to a revolving door…

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edwin decker December 3, 2017 at 2:27 pm

I wasn’t “splitting hairs” Mr. Botanist. I was merely correcting misinformation in a newspaper. I thought newspapers were supposed to be about accuracy. I even mentioned that it was a “minor distinction”

Speaking of which, I find it hilarious that you labeled Pedro’s response to the attacks and misinformation against him as being defensive. Please allow me to explain defensiveness to you.

Defensiveness is when one party INCORRECTLY infers that he has been attacked in some way. For instance, if I had read your letter and responded, “Who are you calling fat?!”, that would be defensive since you made no comments about my weight. However, defending one’s self when one has ACTUALLY been attacked is not defensiveness – it’s simply defending, which is what we all do when legitimately attacked. We defend ourselves.

Converting back to long term rentals would not only require us to invest more money back into the units, but also devalue the initial conversion investment in the first place. Just re-selling all the furniture and furnishings alone would only bring back a tiny fraction of what we spent. If were to go back to long term leases we’d have to go back to our previous hand to mouth scenario since our cushion isn’t very large and—because there were plenty of months that our income was less than our expenses—would be dipping into it periodically. It would just be an insane business decision to go back to that. I doubt most people would.

But hey, It must be awesome to live in a world where people are so easily lined up in the “good” vs “bad” categories; must be nice to be able to quickly discern who is and “shameful” and who is “altruistic”; must be nice that even the most nuanced of issues, to you, are just black and white without a speck of gray – it must make pointing fingers so much easier. Especially when you can do it with the protection of anonymity on an internet message thread with a bogus screen name.

Not me, I own my shit.

Sincerely, Edwin Decker
Owner of his Shit
Ocean Beach

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triggerfinger December 4, 2017 at 6:38 am

Translation:

I’ve become dependent on the tourist bucks and can’t ever go back to housing a local family.

You sound no different than the dirtbag councilmembers that are holding our neighborhood hostage to fill the city coffers.

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triggerfinger December 4, 2017 at 9:30 am

“Converting to long term rentals would require investing more money into the units.”

That’s a lie.

Just own up to it and stop making excuses about how your situation is somehow an exception. As you said, “its a business decision”

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SaneVoice December 4, 2017 at 11:40 am

If you want to operate a hotel, then nut up and purchase or build one. Oh that’s right. That’s not cost-prohibitive for you to go thru the necessary permits, provide things like security (which is for the occupants and the surrounding community), etc. It’s much easier for you to pull an end-around and let the community suffer and hope the police handle your loud tenants while you sit back and light cigars with your money.

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Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie December 4, 2017 at 11:52 am

Ed, why do you assume “retired botanist” is a male?

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retired botanist December 4, 2017 at 6:03 am

Mr Decker- There’s little anonymous about me, most people who read this site know exactly who I am. The ‘handle’ just keeps your comments here, where they belong, instead of my inbox. The rest of your commentary, largely about “poor Pedro”, isn’t really worth further comment.
The fact that my long-term suggestion riled you up and prompted the “no can do. too poor” reaction speaks for itself. “Hand to mouth?” Oy, we should all be so destitute! And I can tell you that living in a black and white world isn’t awesome at all for those who don’t have any cushions and can’t find living accommodations.
Sadly, you’re right that most people won’t consider re-converting…
So by all means, hang onto your furniture- heck, why not add a few more “cushions” to the decor? :-)

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RB December 4, 2017 at 8:22 am

It seems most are happy to attack property owners,
rather than the city council, controlled by those on the ballot with a (D)
behind their name.

The current STVR problems are zoning problems created and controlled by YOUR city council.

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retired botanist December 4, 2017 at 10:06 am

RB- If only it were OUR City council- we all know at this point that, elected or not, local governments no longer represent local communities, regardless of which parenthetical letter comes after their name. They represent themselves, their own re-election, and which financial interests serve them best. The only thing that seems to actually bear fruit anymore is citizen action, mob or individual. We live in an age of reasoning that justifies “well, if its legal or, even if we don’t know whether its legal (to wit STVRs in residential areas), then its ok to do it”. Personal responsibility, setting the right example, these are becoming extinct traits in our moral fiber. No one is “attacking” property owners, why the hyperbole?, just identifying those that do and those that don’t serve the greater good. Zoning is not the only problem, by a long shot…

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edwin decker December 4, 2017 at 10:11 am

Calling us shameful, accusing Pedro of lying about who the tenants would be, accusing him/us of “destroying” the community – these are attacks. Right or wrong, it is not being “defensive” to defend yourself against attacks. That was my point.

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Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie December 4, 2017 at 11:58 am

Mr Decker – I was present the night Pedro and his project appeared before the OB Planning Board and I heard his public pledges. So what is a property builder lies – what can we do about it? Except expose them.

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retired botanist December 4, 2017 at 2:06 pm

Haha, now I can’t resist, and I did read all the previous links he posted, so let me drill down on poor Pedro’s diatribe:

1) So Pedro doesn’t live in Poway- bottom line, he doesn’t live in OB, either.
2) So Pedro said mom would not live onsite/OB Rag said she would- bottom line, Pedro is not living on site, announced or not-What? Because he might have said that 3 yrs ago it gives him some ‘go free’ card now to absolve himself of one of the seminal points in the debate- STVR owners who don’t live onsite?
3) “A lot has changed in 3 years, the economy changed, our plans have changed…” Sounds like the ” it was years ago” card from Mr. Decker’s deck. And fwiw, the OB Planning Board has changed, too- it was not a unanimous vote then, and certainly would not be now.
4) “…unable to get a clear answer on how long or how expensive splitting the lot to allow the sale of the homes individually would take, we decided we’d rent them short-term ourselves.” Yep, see my comment to RB on legality…
5) “You may not like what we chose to build here… or what we’ve chosen to do with the place but… I contend that I’m a better operator for these units than an owner who’s out of town and out of touch.” But wait- isn’t Pedro out of town? And sounds like the “Decker distinction”, that 50% is somehow better than 75%…

So call it what you want, defending, defensive, defend, who cares about the lexicology, Pedro’s comments were steeped in displacement… someone else is worse, I never said that, I don’t live there, I rake leaves once a week (or whatever), my friends keep an eye on things (see the AMH comment).

Has anyone seen my violin? :-)

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OBKid December 4, 2017 at 4:33 pm

Decker – you are the problem. Hand to mouth? You own four properties in OB – how greedy can you be? Rent it long term at a price that makes sense for you as owner and the tenant. Dirtbag.

This all makes my blood boil – gonna have a community of Zonie tourists that trash this place out wearing trump hats.

Pedro – I spoke with you when you were putting up those Lego houses – you said they would house families. Liar.

Frank – any opinion from the hotels? Seems like they have the power and money to quash these things (just cutting their rates would do it). City council couldn’t tie their shoes if they needed to.

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