An OBcean Responds to Faulconer’s Proposal on Short Term Vacation Rentals for San Diego

by on June 19, 2018 · 13 comments

in Ocean Beach

Anti-STVR rally in Ocean Beach, Nov. 25, 2017. Photo by Dave Rice

Ocean Beach Now Has Up to 519 Whole-Home Vacation Rentals

By Kevin Hastings

The new short term vacation rental (STVR) proposal from the mayor’s office addresses whole-home vacation rentals.  It would allow 1 full-time STVR per “person”, in addition to part-time STVR use of their primary residence.

The may sound re

strictive at first glance, but the devil is in the details.

In fact this “1+1” proposal isn’t new at all.  It first came about during a city council meeting in December 2017 in an effort to find compromise during the marathon meeting.  The idea was to block the big money operators from snapping up multiple homes, while still leaving the door open to resident hosts or those with a 2nd/ vacation home here.

The 1+1 concept failed.

Councilmembers Barbara Bry and David Alvarez soon realized that a “per person” or “per owner” limit had glaring loopholes.

First, anyone, anywhere could be the applicant.  A family could assign a STVR to each family member, or extended family members.  It also didn’t limit out of town residents from buying housing to convert to STVR use.

Requiring ownership would limit this, but someone could simply form a separate LLC for each property.  That and other complex ownership situations such as trusts, and multiple owners, meant an impossible task of enforcement to determine the true owner.

As Mitt Romney famously (or infamously) said: “Corporations are people too.”

Some council members then sought to distinguish between human beings and corporations, and between residents and non-residents.  The city attorney’s office immediately raised concerns about the legality of this.

These distinctions are critical. Unless they can be defined in a manner that is legal and protects our housing from corporate STVR operators, then this proposal is a giveaway to Airbnb.

I’m sure you’ve heard in addition to allowing it in primary residences, it would allow 1 full-time STVR per person (and unlimited in mission beach).  Sounds workable at first glance except:

1.  The host/person/applicant does NOT have to live in San Diego.
2.  They do NOT have to be the owner of the property.

But here we go again.  Every man, woman and child, friend, and agent of a corporate vacation rental company can be called the “host” for 1 house, even if they are all owned by a single airbnb tycoon or corporation.

Therefore, with this proposal the only limit on converting more and more homes to airbnbs would be the market demand.

Again, this 1+1 concept is a dead end.  The only way to allow but limit the number of STVRs is to restrict the total number of permits, or require that the hosts lives in it or on the same lot.    Anything else is easily circumvented.   (If you recall the city attorney warned against trying to discriminate based on who owned the house or whether they lived in San Diego.)

I’ve been checking up on all the listings in our small community of Ocean Beach for a few years now.

We are now up to 519 whole-home vacation rentals here.  Multiple-listing hosts account for 65% of them. Only 16% of them are someone’s primary residence.  Excluding those, the number of unique listings on airbnb and other sites now makes up 7% of our rental inventory.  That’s potential housing for 800+ permanent residents in OB alone.

At least right now the legal uncertainty is keeping some investors out of the market.  The mayor’s proposal would roll out the red carpet for them.  Mission Beach here we come.




{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

OB Joe June 19, 2018 at 12:32 pm

Kevin is the kind of guy who knows whats he’s talking about. He is the premier expert on STVRs in OB. He is the kind of activist who doesn’t like the spotlight, just in getting things done. Thank you Kevin. May your dry wit remain with you.


Elliott June 19, 2018 at 6:17 pm

Agreed… keep fighting the good fight Kev!


OB Mercy June 19, 2018 at 2:40 pm

Agree with OB Joe. Kevin always gets a chuckle and laugh emoji from me on FB. Wish it wasn’t for such a not funny subject. ?


RB June 19, 2018 at 3:16 pm

IMO, the only workable solution is to not allow STVR in R1 and R2 zones unless the owner of the property is on site.


Kevin Hastings June 19, 2018 at 4:57 pm

Update: I got some additional info the mayor’s office.

They confirmed the host of full time STVRs does not need to be a San Diego resident.

Also they do not need to own the property.

Therefore one owner or corporation can have as many full time Airbnbs as the market will bear, so long as each one has a unique host assigned to it. A detailed draft proposal will come out Monday.

This is a dangerous proposal because it purports to cater to the little guy, yet does nothing to stop bigtime vacation rental operators.

This same exact piece of horse manure didn’t satisfy David Alvarez or 4 others in December, so I don’t see the point of reintroducing it.

We need to introduce a proposal that either caps permits or requires the host/owner to have a primary residence on site. That is the only way to curb the growth and profitability of these vacation rental empires. (Short of enforcing the existing code).


Kevin Hastings June 19, 2018 at 5:00 pm

Nevermind, I see Frank has already added my recent email to city council describing all this.


retired botanist June 19, 2018 at 6:18 pm

Thank you, Kevin, for the stats, and thanks OB Rag for keeping this as front page news. Its just plain rage-inducing! Its hard to even know what to advocate at this point- the City is so recalcitrant in its acknowledgment of OB’s Community Plan and the interests of the constituents. Sit-ins? Anti-STVR grafitti?
Clearly, emails to the City, showing up at City Council meetings, presentations of Plan policies, and any other avenues of “working within the system” aren’t working. As Kevin points out, its all in the details and the fricking legal language!
Littering the STVR websites with negative narratives and social media shaming? Craigslist, AirBnB, Home Away, etc.?
Something less passive needs to occur! :(


Kevin Hastings June 21, 2018 at 4:14 pm

David Alvarez is a key swing vote. Call his office and tell them not to sell out our beach neighborhoods. Ask for his policy advisor or whichever staffer is handling the airbnb issue. Tell them the mayors proposal is full of loopholes and does nothing to keep commercial operators out of our neighborhoods. And that if we don’t stop it here, his will be next. The barrio is a prime location for hipsters to take over and gentrify and turn into airbnbs.

Alvarez previously came close to voting for a proposal allowing host-on-site rentals only. That is the only way this type of proposal could work because you can’t simply discriminate based on who owns the property.

Mission Beach is getting thrown under the bus. They don’t want unfettered airbnbs either.


nostalgic June 22, 2018 at 3:27 pm

Under the proposed scheme, what happens if one person owns an apartment building, and all of the units are vacation rentals?


Kevin Hastings June 23, 2018 at 6:34 pm

It would be allowed as long as each year around vacation rental has a different host listed. So the owner would have to have some names to use as an intermediary. Nothing requires that the named host/applicant has ownership ties to the property.

I will write an update when the draft proposal is released with full text.


nostalgic June 24, 2018 at 11:37 am

Depending on how the official version is worded and the city’s interpretation, it is possible that apartment buildings of 7 units or more which are STVRs will also qualify for Type 70 Liquor Licenses under state law.


Kevin Hastings June 25, 2018 at 1:41 pm

Here is the Type 70 applied for by Inn at Sunset cliffs, which is a residential property ( RM5-12) . This subzone is unique from other residential lots – the current code allows visitor accommodations.
70 ON SALE GENERAL – RESTRICTIVE SERVICE – Authorizes the sale or furnishing of beer, wine and
distilled spirits for consumption on the premises to the establishment’s overnight transient occupancy guests
or their invitees. This license is normally issued to “suite-type” hotels and motels, which exercise the
license privileges for guests’ “complimentary” happy hour. Minors are allowed on the premises.


nostalgic June 26, 2018 at 8:42 am

If municipal code for transient occupancy covers vacation rentals, the possibility of unintended consequences are endless. Fifteen sections of the code reference “transient Occupancy or Transient Lodging. An example under Sign Regulations, free-way visible signs are permitted for transient lodging under the section “General Sign Regulations.” If your house is near a freeway, that just couldn’t happen, right?


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