Cape May Property Owner Responds to Charges of Running Short Term Rentals

by on June 11, 2018 · 8 comments

in Ocean Beach

Editordude’s Note: At the most recent OB Planning Board meeting on Wednesday, June 6, after 3 unsuccessful votes, the Board finally decided it could take no action on a proposed granny flat at 4715 Cape May Ave., particularly after allegations that the property would be turned into a short term vacation rental. The owner of the property, Jason Whitmore, responded to our report of the meeting with the following:

By Jason Whitmore / June 7, 2018

I feel the need to clear a few things up regarding this project as my wife and I are the owners of the property at 4715 Cape May Ave. We have owned this one (1) and only property in OB for nearly 10 years and have rented it both short term and long term during that period.

We have had much better results renting short term regardless of the money than we have with some locals who had stayed long term in the past (bad apples in every group). We have and continue to live in OB for over 10 years together (myself 18 years since moving here in 2000 and spending the first 4 months living out of my car).

There are multiple inaccuracies throughout this article but why would that matter when it relates to such a hot button issue as STVRs in this community? Why actually make an effort to report on the truth or contact the owners for comment when we can just rile up the emotions on this matter and argue based solely on that.

I wish we could have been at the meeting but we had attended the preliminary meeting in May where although no members of the board found any legal reason to object to the project, there were not enough members present to have a quorum. We could not attend the ‘full body meeting’ later in May due to our work schedules (yes, my wife and I both work full time jobs and are not wealthy investors gobbling up properties and ruining communities).

However our architect was at the meeting and again there were no objections to the project based of facts, laws, codes, etc. Members at both of the early meetings even went so far as to refer to our project as “a no brainer” and “this is an easy yes” but again not enough members showed up to form a quorum. The board knew we would not be at this week’s meeting either as we had planned our first vacation in years with our great friends and neighbors (yes, our neighbors next to our rental actually like us).

It seems like it wasn’t until this mostly false in its major points OB Rag article came out that the boards’ knees weakened and they, I’m assuming, thought for the ‘greater good’ of OB they would not be in favor of our project as a path of least resistance within the community and I honestly cannot blame them.

In the original article sparking the initial debate, the writer put forth and I quote “problem is this original house as built as a ‘twin’ with the house directly east by the owner” this would infer that we, the ‘owners’ split the lot and built a second house one of which is a STVR. If any actual journalistic integrity or the simple effort of looking up tax records would show that lot was indeed split by an ‘owner’ in the 1980’s and both properties have changed hands multiple times since then….I was between 8 & 12 years old and living in Indiana at the time … far from to be blamed for this one. The writer also refers to the owner as ‘he’ repeatedly which probably upset my wife the most about this as she is a strong independent woman who is the actual owner of the property on title, I merely do the grunt work…again not much effort made to gather the actual truth here.

Next, regarding the meeting and one Kevin Hastings putting forth that we own multiple properties next door to one another, wrong again. The owner of the house next door divorced, moved away and let the house go to ruin for 6 years. It was in such bad shape she couldn’t get anyone to rent it short term or long.

She proposed that we manage it for her, but after looking at the property I saw no upside as it needed so much work. My wife, brilliant as she is, suggested we rent it from her for 3 year period of which we are 2/3 through, use our own money to fix it up, rent it out how we see fit. The owners nut was covered, we put over $30,000 of our own money (quite a gamble) and even had to take a loan out against one of our cars to finish (again not quite the big-time developer everyone automatically assumes). we do not own this property

Point being, we own one house and one house only in OB, bought in probate 10 years ago (owner died) with no relatives willing to move in…didn’t displace a single OBcean.

We took another gamble a few years back on a house in a vacation rental community outside of Palm Springs. Not sure why anyone in OB cares that we have that one. it covers its nut, is in a land of second homes where no one cares about STVRS and is slowly appreciating in value.

There was a change made to the California ‘granny flat’ law in January 2017 doing away with additional parking per bedroom added if within .5 miles of public transport that finally would allow for us to add square footage to our property and increase its value. We have spent over 18 months and tens of thousands of dollars (again not easy payments to make for us) between architects fees, city permitting processes and so on to get to this point. I have contractors lined up and ready to go (the majority of them either from OB or connected to OB all currently on hold.

I pride myself on being able to see things from the ‘other side’ and I would hate to live next to a rowdy rental (again bad apples in every crowd) but I could have neighbors on either side of my property validate on a moments notice how we vet, run and operate as to not upset the neighborhood. the majority of our renters are actually your friends and relatives visiting you here in OB.

We live in OB, we love OB. The intention for this project as I stated in the very beginning to the board is for us to provide a safe space for my wife’s sister and 4 year old child (who desperately wants him to attend OB elementary) and as a place for my aging father to be able to spend some extended time with us.

Bottom line, regardless of how vehemently against STVRs any one of you are, they are NOT illegal. The city attorney, OB planning board, god himself can find them ‘illegal’ but that is not how it works.

As of today, they are not illegal and just because you don’t like something, doesn’t make you right. You want to fight the good fight, start coming up with some solutions instead of screaming at the top of your lungs how awful I am, an I’ll be the first one to join you in trying to come up with some solutions.

Why doesn’t at least a higher percentage of the TOT taxes collected in the areas where STVRs are most prevalent go directly to those neighborhoods, were talking 10s of millions in taxes anyone lobby Lorie [Zapf] or Kevin ]Faulconer] on that one? Hell, put a community surcharge on rentals that goes directly into the local coffers. Something other than the same old same old that to this point has yielded absolutely zero results.

Our project fits within every legal guideline set forth by the state and city, we know this law better than most and developed this project well within any possible note of contention. While we wish the OB planning Board would have given us their approval, we will be moving forward with a meeting with the city shortly to press this forward. Again, it is not our intention to turn this new space into an STVR and at no time did we mislead the OB planning board. the only conversation that was had, if you could call it that was ‘this better not become a STVR or we are going to have problems’ (planning board member to remain nameless) to which my response was simply ‘that is not my intention.’

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

molly Molly June 11, 2018 at 2:27 pm

Is it just me, or did Jason just admit to having short term vacation rentals?

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retired botanist June 11, 2018 at 4:36 pm

Its not just you, yep, I had a response to Jason’s comments, including his disclosure on the Palm Springs property, which seems to have been removed. So be it, I’ll reiterate, just another developer claiming “Not me”, “Poor me”, “F@#$ you, community, I’m taking it to the City anyway”. As I said, we’re not screaming at him personally, we’re screaming at the illegality of all of this.

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David Austin June 11, 2018 at 2:47 pm

Not only are short term rentals illegal in any zone in San Diego they are unethical and damaging to the neighborhoods where they exist. At the preset time they have become so prevalent that they have adversely affected the availability of housing for long term tenants. It is sad that our city government has been influenced by the money and power of the 30 billion dollar company spearheading the proliferation of STR all over the world. It is a global problem. Although it is sad it is nothing new. San Diego city hall is notorious for being manipulated by big business interests at the expense of the residents. As has already happened in many major cities around the world many neighborhoods in San Diego will gradually cease to exist as they are turned into hospitality zones. The Municipal Code was carefully designed to guarantee that San Diego residents would enjoy safe livable neighborhoods. The proposal from the Mayor’s office, if passed into law, would ruin that guarantee for all time. The city needs to stand up for the citizens and enforce the law, not sell us out to STR operators.

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John June 11, 2018 at 4:55 pm

You, Jason, are a scofflaw.

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SaneVoice June 12, 2018 at 11:18 am

There’s a special place in Hell for these whiny property owners who want to destroy OB just to line their pockets with STVR money. You wanna run a hotel, then nut up and go thru the necessary zoning and permitting process.

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Jon Carr June 12, 2018 at 2:37 pm

I’m no fan of STVR, and have made that abundantly clear over the years as we’ve watched this crisis unfold. But I’ve gotta draw the line at personal attacks against locals who are in this type of a position. Sure, they are taking advantage of the situation, and certainly it feels like taking advantage of the community. But I place the blame squarely on Kevin Faulconer and the city council for their horrendous lack of governance and perpetuating this issue through a mixture of ineptitude, corruption, and carelessness. Why would any one of the council members not on the coast care about STVR? They have been stalling and letting this issue run wild for years while other coastal communities have effectively regulated their STVR problems. The online business platforms that opened this Pandora’s box can suck it as well. The bottom line from reading posts and ensuing heated discussions like this is simple: STVRs cause problems.

Get hotels out of our residential zones now! They do not belong here.

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retired botanist June 12, 2018 at 4:03 pm

So Jon, then it becomes about people who take advantage of this critical stalemate? While not trying to attack individuals personally, its’ clear that their business model flies in the face of the community’s intent. Its called TAKING ADVANTAGE. So, if one puts oneself in the line of fire, get ready for the volley. While Jason is clearly not the only one, and he has his own “hard-put” story to tell, he just lines up with the other scofflaws, as John so aptly put it.

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Kevin Hastings June 13, 2018 at 12:54 pm

The applicant misrepresents my statements at the meeting. It’s unfortunate they didn’t attend, assuming the planning board would greenligbt their project and that no one would object.

The comments I made at the meeting were 100% accurate. And those accurate comments influenced the process. That’s kind of the point of holding these meetings in public.

To be clear, vacation rentals are absolutely illegal in San Diego in RM1-1 zones. The city has simply said the law won’t or can’t be enforced.

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