Reader Rant: ‘Stop Any Purchase of House If Sole Purpose Is Converting It to Short Term Vacation Rental’

by on April 12, 2018 · 2 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Rebecca Ferguson

I would like to share an email I sent to Councilwoman Lorie Zapf’s office about 4 weeks ago (I have not heard back on this):

Conrad Wear,

I am sure both you and Lorie have already heard an earful on this topic but I would like to share my feelings and experience on this for what it’s worth.

I see nothing wrong with a homeowner using Airbnb for what I believe its original use/intention was … sharing your home from time to time with travelers or even home swapping or opening your home to travelers when you are out of town.

My fiancé and I have a home in Ocean Beach and we have periodically (I believe 4-5 times total in the last couple years) rented one of our rooms to carefully screened vacationers. It has been such a rewarding experience to meet people from all parts of the world and walks of life. We have made some actual friendships out of this.

We don’t do it for the money but more we feel it is a unique experience and enjoy showing out-of-towners our unique, quirky little beach town. I have stayed out of the debate because I see nothing wrong with responsible vacation rental practices.

Just over 6 months ago, we had some really great neighbors that were kicked out when the owners decided to sell. We were sad to see them go but excited to meet our new neighbors. The new neighbors purchased, I met the wife as we had just come home from the hospital and I explained we would be home during the days for a while while my fiance was recovering.

The wife explained they would be doing some renovations and hoped it wouldn’t be too disruptive during his recovery. She was very sweet and we were happy to have them as neighbors.

We knew the sale price of the house and were surprised to learn she was young and a student and her husband was deployed military. This house was sold at a really high price … we were a little surprised they could afford it plus the massive renovations they did on the house.

We were frankly, pretty surprised anyone would pay that much for it. It is a tiny house on a tiny lot with no view. We felt it was very overpriced as we had just had our home appraised about a year or two prior. We assumed they had some money from family perhaps? Good for them. They seemed like they would be great neighbors so we were excited.

Then she finally admitted to me several months in, after the massive renovations, that the house was going to be a vacation rental.

I was very disappointed, mostly because I was excited to have a nice new neighbor and instead what we have now are new strangers showing up every weekend. I must admit that all of the renters have been well-behaved so far aside from a few loud nights and other than it being a little odd not knowing who “belongs” on our block so it is hard to tell if there is crime or anything nefarious going on. I really have no problem with it other than being bummed that I don’t have a nice neighbor to chat with on a regular basis.

After thinking about it a little deeper, however, it really did start to bother me and let me tell you why that is.

It is my belief that what happened next door is happening on many blocks all over OB, PB, North Park, Downtown, you name it. All of the “hot” neighborhoods.

The only way these high home sales prices pencil for these buyers is the expectation/reliance of ultra-high vacation rental income. Essentially, houses in San Diego are being priced and sold almost as if on the commercial hotel market.

This is artificially inflating our already high home prices as well as devastating our rental market and driving renters out east or wherever they can afford; gradually making our neighborhoods full of transient strangers.

The prices are not sustainable by our city-wide earnings. It is of great concern to me that these artificially inflated home prices are going to create a localize housing market crisis isolated just to San Diego (or other markets with similar STVR abuse). I am concerned for our city, our neighborhood of Ocean Beach, and our own home’s value in the event of a market bubble or correction.

I really hope [Councilwoman Lorie Zapf can help us do something about these market vultures without punishing everyone else who is not negatively affecting the market and still want the right to rent their home or a room out periodically like we do.

I think at the very least we should stop people from buying homes specifically for the purpose of converting it to a STVR. Perhaps include language in the standard CAR agreements used in real estate transactions?

I am not sure what the solution is but doing nothing is not working and the problem is getting worse by the month.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

OB Joe April 12, 2018 at 8:35 pm

I checked out the facebook page of the OBRag and found a lot more comments on this article. I wonder why. Do people feel more comfortable commenting on facebook than they do on a web site like this?

The travesty behind this story is outrageous. Thank you Rebecca for writing and sharing this dreadful account of how the beaches are being destroyed.


ObKid April 16, 2018 at 11:44 am

AMEN. STVR and the landlords who profit off of them are RUINING San Diego…soon there will be no locals left, no neighborhoods, no local culture, no children…effin Sad!

Boycott STVRs and shame anyone you know who operates them. As I told my neighbor the other day “go buy a hotel or bed and breakfast if you want to be a hotelier” – Greed at its finest.

My block of Del Monte Ave has been decimated by STVRs…only about 5-6 buildings/houses on the block with actual residences. Drives rents up and drives housing prices up. ENOUGH!


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