Ocean Beach Town Council Gears Up to Oppose Mayor’s Proposal on Short Term Rentals for San Diego

by on June 28, 2018 · 6 comments

in Ocean Beach

Many informed voices were heard last night, Wednesday, June 27 at the Ocean Beach Town Council forum on short term vacation rentals, including local OB experts, other heads of neighboring town councils – all opposed to Mayor Faulconer’s proposal – except for one – that of Anthony George, the Mayor’s representative.

The good-sized audience inside the Masonic Center leaned in as presidents of Mission Beach, Pacific Beach and Clairemont town councils joined in the chorus critical of the impacts coastal communities will suffer if Faulconer’s ordinance is accepted by five of City Council-members. The City Council meets July 16 to once again attempt to address one of the most contentious issues roiling the city.

Once the regular order of business was dealt with, OBTC president Marcus Turner opened up the forum on vacation rentals by reading an email from Ocean Beach Elementary School principal Drapeau addressing the issue. In his message, Drapeau cited the loss of students who qualify for Title 1 funds, a drop to the current 52% from 60% two years ago. He surmised that the loss of students was due to “more and more units going to short term vacation rentals.”

Turner then recognized John Ambert, former chair of the OB Planning Board, who spoke – as he consistently has – against the rentals and the Mayor’s proposal. The Mayor’s report in support of his proposal excludes the impacts of STVRs, and there will less housing units on the market, Ambert said. The loss of housing due to STVRs will result in public services being taken away from communities, he added.

Airbnb and other such rental companies have lobbyists who have been negotiating and controlling the language of the STVR ordinance, Ambert said. In response, he urged team work and uniting with other town councils, that we need to do the research, and “stand up”, attend the city council hearing in July.

Turner introduced Kevin Hastings – the OB expert on vacation rentals – who some startling things to say. Hastings explained he has been researching the issue for 2 years and wanted to present the current situation in OB.

There’s roughly 7,000 housing units for rent in OB, he said, and right now, 7 per cent are listed on Airbnb and other sites. This is a significant issue, he said, and causes rents to go up. “There’s 50 vacation rentals on Brighton, Long Branch and West Pt Loma alone,”Kevin added. There’s 150 more listings now than last year. “And I’m talking just west of Froude,” he said – to gasps from the audience.

Urging folks to attend the upcoming council hearing, Kevin discussed how the city council was split – how “the Bry-Zapf proposal” was still on the table, that it was not a ban on STVRs but did place restrictions. “Even Republican Lori Zapf understands the issue,” he said to laughter. The 4 councilmembers who like STVRs are not from communities impacted by them, and they want the money they generate, Hastings said. Councilmember David Alvarez is a swing vote, he noted, and asked people to contact Alvarez’ office.

“The mayor’s proposal,” Kevin said, “is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.” Its major flaw, ‘the one plus one’, allows one person – who is not required to be a resident – to have one vacation rental, and if they also have a primary residence, they can rent that out too. “Mission Beach is sold out,” Hastings continued.

The city did figure out that STVRs do impact affordable housing, so each rental will be charged a $2 a night fee – which is a tiny fraction of what affordable housing costs, as the city anticipates it would generate $3 million a year.

Kevin raised pertinent questions. Are 6 units one dwelling unit, he asked. How is a “host” defined? A host is whoever has the legal right to the property – could be a tenant or a shell-tenant. This is how, Hastings added, OB slumlord Michael Mills could have 500 short term rentals – all he needs is 500 “hosts”.

Ambert jumped in and brought up that the city has not done any study on STVR impacts. “You can’t write policy without data,” he said. He said the OB Planning Board calls for a “cap” to STVR permits. He also urged people to contact Councilman Alvarez.

Marcus Turner introduced the heads of the other town councils: Gary Wonacott of Mission Beach, Eden Yaege of Clairemont and Greg Daunoras of PB.

Yaege – who is also the head of the coalition of town councils – said “the Mayor’s proposal was a complete reversal of what we expected.” She also warned, once an ordinance goes into effect, it’s very hard to change it, if some were willing to go along with an experiment or simply try something out.

Wonacott of Mission Beach decried Faulconer’s proposal, “It’s devastating to carve out Mission Beach,… it’s gotten to be really, really bad” in his community, as he said STVRs have propagated into its core. “What’s really bad,” he added, “is the vacancy rate of 50% during the winter.”  “You lose your neighbors.” He said, “We need the carve-out reversed.”

Daunoras of Pacific Beach told the audience their town council took a stand 3 years ago of a total ban. In PB, he recounted, in 2008 they had 85 to 90 STVRs. Now, it’s 1300 to 1400. “We want sensible action,” he said.

The MBTC head, Wonacott explained the licensing permits for STVR have plenty of problems. There’s no requirement to verify off-street parking, there’s no definition of the number of people allowed, and there’s no verification of whether the site is a legal residence – some in Mission Beach rent out garages – . “We need real requirements in the permit,” he said.

As the forum was winding down, Ambert asked the town council heads if the coalition they are part of has a specific proposal. Yaege of Clairemont responded; they’ll be revising it, but right now, they propose 1) only a primary resident can be a host; 2) no carve out for Mission Beach, and 3) they want the 3-day minimum reserved for the coastal areas to include Clairemont.

As things were wrapped up, Turner and Gio Ingolia announced the OB Town Council was leasing a bus to take OBceans down to the City Council meeting on July 16 and return them to OB. People were urged to wear blue.

City Council Hearing on STVRs – July 16


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Jon Carr June 29, 2018 at 7:46 am

Every resident of San Diego should be livid over this proposal because their neighborhoods could be next. What the city is doing is saying, we are going to change your zoning to allow for commercial hotel operations in residential neighborhoods that will now cater to tourism rather than residential needs. What the lobbyists have been very slick at is setting this up as a property rights issue, or spinning it as the coastal communities don’t want to share the beach area because we’re ‘NIMBYs.’ This is a false narrative. What we’re saying, and what Mr. Ambert could say much more eloquently than I, is that these types of businesses belong in our commercial or mixed-use zones. They would be welcomed there, and they would contribute much to the local economy and culture. Allowing them in residential zones has distorted the market, created myriad issues around noise, parking, loss of neighbors, loss of businesses that cater to residents, etc… Rather than address those issues, the city asked for a study beginning with the question, “how minimal of a fee should we charge STVR operators.” Unconscionable.


Obecian June 29, 2018 at 9:00 am

The mayor’s proposal is a poorly disguised giveaway to those who care more about profits than neighborhoods. It doesn’t do anything to address the concerns of residents under the guise of a compromise. A compromise would allow home sharing and seasonal renting by San Diego homeowning residents. This plan constitutes selling out our neighborhoods and worsening our housing crisis. It’s time to voice your opposition to the Mayor and the council or be relegated to reminiscing of the days when San Diego had neighborhoods full of neighbors.


sealintheSelkirks July 1, 2018 at 3:18 pm

This is what started to happen to (middle) Mission Beach in the early 70s when ‘vacation rental units’ exploded in number more than they had in the previous decade.

The kids who grew up on that part of the sandbar ran right into this head-on. And got clobbered. By the time we hit the find-a-place-to-rent age, roughly 1972-77, we were already being priced out or, as I personally experienced numerous times, were kicked out each June so the Zonies (Arizona tourists) could come quadruple the rents the landlords collected from us each month. The landlords liked to rent far more to college students than locals since they’d be leaving each June, so the locals always suffered trying to find affordable places to live year ’round not just the summer.

We local kids got priced out, folks, and that’s already happening to OB, too, from what I’ve been reading here in the Rag. I’m thinking it is a bit different than how it went in MB due to the large corporations invested in these rentals; and who have bags of corporate cash for ‘campaign contributions’ and ‘revolving doors from public to private’ that all go towards ‘protecting their interests’ in getting the legislation they want.

That horrible STVR map OBRag published…oh my. Does is not look like the wet dream of an impending Miami or Waikiki Beach? Is that in the future or am I just imagining things? It’s all about profits, right?

Let’s be honest here. Tourists are marks and are treated as such. Skinning the marks that come for whatever you are selling for as much as you can nick them for is a time-honored tradition. Just how many marks can you pack into one beach is a question that can be answered by looking around the world. The future of the beach areas are seriously in question here.

Who do you think the mayor is listening to? His wealthy backers & campaign contributors and the other influential people he will be in bed with financially for the rest of his life; or people he can ignore because, after all, we know money talks and corporations are real live people and you all are not going to be part of his future… Expect nothing from this guy.

Sorry to be so blunt but hey, it’s both a gift and a curse…

Last time I was down there, in 2001 to bury my last relative, I couldn’t find a single person living in Mission Beach that I went to Farnum and then MB School with in the 60s, nor any of the surfer/skaters from the 70s that had moved there in the early-mid 70s. Not a single face in the water for two weeks in MB or Southside of OB Pier, was familiar. Kind of made me sad.

Good luck, OB. Try to keep the 30 foot height restriction, and then take as much power away from those that would literally depopulate neighborhoods of long-term residents for their own profit. Remember what kind of people you are dealing with in those expensive suits, and realize that it will be a fight for your neighborhood’s right to exist.



Jon Carr July 1, 2018 at 6:11 pm

I was dismayed but unsurprised to learn that our neighboring communities had such similar experiences. In the past 12 months the mayor has sent a representative to only 2 OBTC meetings. They reported similar attention. How can the mayor’s office develop this proposal without the input of the most affected stakeholders; the community residents? PB, MB, and Clairemont all reported the same lack of interest from the mayors office. Let that sink in.


kh May 26, 2023 at 4:27 pm

Well golly gee, nobody saw this coming….


Linda May 27, 2023 at 7:59 am

WE HAVE TO REMIND THEM…..HOW sadly I don’t know.


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