City Council Bi-Partisan Majority Saves Coastal Communities, Votes Down Mayor’s Proposal on Short Term Rentals – Votes for Councilwoman Bry’s

by on July 16, 2018 · 25 comments

in Ocean Beach

Screen grab by Priscilla Turner.

Airbnb “Zapfed”

After 5 plus hours of public testimony, a bi-partisan majority of the San Diego City Council today, Monday July 16, halted Mayor Faulconer’s proposal on short term vacation rentals and approved by a vote of 6 to 3 Councilwoman Barbara Bry’s proposal to limit the rentals to “primary residence” and onsite granny flat.

In the end, 4 Democrats (Bry, Mrytle Cole, Georgette Gomez, Chris Ward  ) and 2 Republicans (Lorie Zapf and Mark Kersey) voted for the so-called “Bry Proposal”. In essence, the Bry plan limits short term rentals to the primary residence – and if there’s an accessory unit, a so-called “granny flat” – the host is allowed to rent that out as well, as that still meets the requirement for the host to be on the property during the visit.

Faulconer’s proposal went down on a 3 to 6 vote, with only Cate, Sherman and Kersey voting for it.

This historic vote has, in effect, saved San Diego’s coastal communities – including Ocean Beach – from a flood of short term rentals that would have materialized if the Mayor’s plan had been passed, a flood that would have destroyed the character and uniqueness of the community.

Group of OBceans who took the chartered bus downtown. Councilwoman Zapf came out to greet the District 2 folks. Photo by Frank Gormlie

Critics of Faulconer’s “primary plus one” plan, plus his Mission Beach “carve-out”, have accurately portrayed it as open invitation to investors anywhere – they wouldn’t have had to reside in San Diego – to come in and grab up San Diego houses, condos and apartments and turn them into short term rentals.

Over a short period of time, that scenario – if Faulconer’s plan had passed –  would have played out across the beach and coastal neighborhoods to their extreme detriment. And neighborhoods like OB would lose their long term rental and housing stock, open up more residential blocks to mini-hotels, and become “ghost villages” during the week and during off months.

If this had occurred, it is very likely Ocean Beach, as the community we know it today, would have been literally destroyed.

Faulconer’s “Mission Beach carve-out” was such a bad idea that the Mayor appeared in front of the Council at the beginning of their hearing today, and while introducing his plan, simply stated he was amending his ordinance by removing that exception for Mission Beach.

Dozens of OBceans turned out for the long, drawn out afternoon affair in the Council Chambers on the 12th floor of City Hall. About twenty from OB grabbed the chartered bus provided by the OB Town Council. A good number of OB people spoke against Faulconer’s proposal as did many from other neighborhoods like Mission Beach, PB, La Jolla, Clairemont – even University City.

The Airbnb-fueled opposition was also out in numbers as well; they supported Faulconer’s plan. They wore green shirts; OBceans wore blue while other opponents of short term rentals wore red. It was the war of the shirts – green vs red and blue vs green – ….

We’ll have more details later.

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

OB Mercy July 16, 2018 at 9:11 pm

Did they talk about how they’re going to enforce it? Do the ones that exist get grandfathered in??


Frank Gormlie July 17, 2018 at 9:46 am

OB Mercy, no talk about “grandfathering” in anything except in Mission Beach during the discussion on Faulconer’s plan – which was defeated.

Unless it’s the primary residence or a granny flat on the property, it’s illegal to have a short term vacation rental in a residential zone. I’m not clear on the timing.


Chris July 17, 2018 at 9:02 pm

According to this, there will be no grandfathering and no monetary compensation for lost profits:


Chris July 17, 2018 at 9:03 pm
Chris July 17, 2018 at 9:08 pm
bodysurferbob July 16, 2018 at 9:14 pm

wave to go, guys!


Ol OB Hippie July 16, 2018 at 9:17 pm

OBceans continue a tradition of fighting for OB at city hall. We did it in 1976, in the 80s, 90s, in 2014 – and today! Thanks to all of you who made the trip down to city hall and who stood up for the community. You were there for the rest of us, some of us who had to work, some of us who had to run our business, those of us attending to the safety of others, from all of us who for whatever reason couldn’t be there. You were there fro us. Gracis mis amigos y amigas.


Lyle July 16, 2018 at 9:26 pm

We’ve seen some heroic women here. I still want Donna Frye for president. But Mignon Scherer, Gretchen Newsom and Lorie Zapf should be in her cabinet.


John Scherer July 16, 2018 at 10:16 pm

Well that’s great news. Thanks to all who fought yet another plan to take San Diego away from the resident OBcians/San Diegans. And yes, Donna Frye for President. One of the few people in Politics who can’t be bought and abides by the existing rules of government (and fights for all things good in the world). Lyle, thanks for the mention of my mom, Mignon Scherer. For those who don’t know she passed away at 92 in March of 2017 but tried to stay involved in the fight up until the last year of her life when she no longer could physically participate.


Frank Gormlie July 17, 2018 at 9:48 am

Thanks John for the comment and update; many of us remember your mom back at the turn of the century.


Denine July 16, 2018 at 11:05 pm

As a small business owner I wasn’t able to step away from work to attend the meeting. I so appreciate all my neighbors who did go and stand up for our community. I was able to watch some of the proceedings on line and was so impressed. I just might be able to continue to rent my modest little abode in OB after all. :-)


Dave July 16, 2018 at 11:42 pm

Zapf voting on the right (correct) side of an issue?!? Twilight zone…


Tyler July 17, 2018 at 5:36 am

Election soon….


Rufus July 17, 2018 at 7:10 am

Kudos to Laurie Zapf for listening to her voters, but what the hell happened to David Alvarez?? David, I thought you were for the little guy? WTF?

Now it’s going to be up to the city for enforcement. But I’m not optimistic. I just spent half a day down at the planning department trying to get a no-plan permit to upgrade my circa 1958 electric service at home. It was an office full of people who knew nothing and were not in the least helpful. This doesn’t bode well for STR enforcement.


Frank Gormlie July 17, 2018 at 9:52 am

Rufus, I know right? My thoughts exactly: what the hell happened to David Alvarez – who did vote against Faulconer’s plan. When I first saw the tally on the board, I kept looking across to the names thinking I was looking at it from an angle and not seeing it correctly. But alas. Perhaps he was struck by the appearance of the red-shirted union HERE folks who made a confusing presentation ostensibly in favor of the mayor’s proposal but who kept repeating they’d rather see just “the primary residence” standard – which was not Faulconer’s proposal.


kh July 17, 2018 at 10:35 am

So many of the green-shirt “pro Airbnb” speakers missed the point entirely. One of the councilmembers acknowledged this, might’ve been Ward.

Some advocated against their own interests…. such as wanting to rent out their companion unit (Mayor’s plan prohibited this, Bry allowed it).

Some were already accommodated by the Bry plan (homeshares or part-time hosts)

Some supporters of the mayor’s plan were misled, thinking it was going to protect their neighborhood.

Others talked about their bottom line, but only a few had testimony with any well-thought arguments in it.

It was a surprisingly weak effort on their part.

Yet 4+ hours into the meeting with the crowd dwindling, Marcus Turner during his testimony asked the OBecians to stand, and there were about 30 of us still in attendance, more than all the green shirts combined. Mrs. Zapf was very aware of and encouraged by our presence.


Jason July 17, 2018 at 6:07 am

Thank you Frank and everyone who participated to help save and protect our neighborhood!


RB July 17, 2018 at 7:05 am

The Mayor takes credit for solving STVR.
I have never in my life seen such a crazy spin………..

City Council Amends and Adopts Mayor Faulconer’s Compromise Proposal to Establish First-Ever City Regulations for Short-Term Rentals


kh July 17, 2018 at 10:22 am

So let him take credit, no skin off my back. His proposal was deeply flawed, but he went along with Bry’s amendments, and that’s good enough for me.

FYI the proposal would allow for a 2nd dwelling unit on the parcel to be listed as whole-home. Not restricted to just companion units.


Craig Klein July 17, 2018 at 10:23 am

Lorie Zapf; Not your everyday Republican. Big Kudos for her brave stand against the Mayor, Air B and B , and millions of dollars of non- resident investor money. Thank you for doing the right thing for District 2 and all of San Diego.


Jon Carr July 17, 2018 at 11:26 am

Gotta give credit where it’s due. Lorie has been consistently listening to us. She had some great sound bites too.
“I wasn’t elected to serve the interests of out-of-town investors, I was elected to serve the needs of my constituents…”

The city should now focus on ways to encourage proper use of STVR in commercial and mixed-use zones. Nobody wants tourism to go away. We just wanted our residential neighborhoods protected.


Jon Carr July 17, 2018 at 11:14 am

Unfortunately I could not be there in-person being that this all took place on a Monday afternoon. But I listened live to the entire meeting and was so proud of our community. Community leaders like Kevin Hastings, Craig Klein, Frank Gormlie, Marcus Turner, and others deserve tremendous gratitude for their efforts to protect our residential zoning laws. I’ll throw in a shameless plug for the OB Town Council (yes, I volunteer as a board member) for hosting numerous forums on the subject, and partnering with a coalition of coastal town councils to show solidarity to our elected representatives. The council even chartered a bus to help get community members to and from the meeting. If you’ve ever thought of being a member, or wondered why you should be, this is a good example of where your $20 annual membership fee goes (also to running the parade, the food & toy drive, the pancake breakfast, etc…).


Geoff Page July 17, 2018 at 4:12 pm

This does sound like great news and I hope it is. But, my antenna is twitching a little because some of this looks almost too good to be true.

It reminds me of another issue years ago when the city wanted to put a tunnel under OB for the sludge line to the treatment plant. This was very controversial, to the point that the city council held a special meeting at the Nazerene college. I went to the meeting and watched as they described six or seven different proposals for this, one of which was a forced main sludge line to go through OB. The other choices were all ridiculous and when it was over, the council voted unanimously to reject the tunnel and do the pipeline. Everyone was overjoyed and the council looked great. It was apparent to me it was a set up, propose something bad so what you really want doesn’t look too bad. I wrote a long piece in the Beacon and Ron Roberts, who was on the council, came back with his own piece attacking my opinion. We went back and forth a few times but his anger convinced me I was right.

Faulconer’s proposal was as ridiculous and it made me wonder if the same kind of thing happened. The fact is that short term vacation rentals are currently illegal in residential neighborhoods. They just became legal, albeit not as awful as Faulconer’s proposal. I’ve seen criticisms of David Alvarez and how he voted but is it possible he voted no on both proposals because he believes the current law should be upheld? Maybe. That is still a major change folks, that everyone is happy about? The happiness is dodging a blank bullet I think. A real complete victory would have been to deny these in residential neighborhoods completely.

Not trying to rain on the parade but the devil will be in the details and this will still have to be watched like a hawk. Someone already mentioned grand-fathering in what is here now. I would bet good money that will be proposed and no one wants that either. But, hey, we gave you a victory, this would only be fair, right? I hope not but keep a sharp eye on this because it isn’t over.


kh July 17, 2018 at 6:47 pm

I don’t know what Alvarez’s deal is, other than finding excuses to not vote.

At the December meeting, he was inkling for a 1+1 type proposal with limits on commercial investors, accountability with host platforms, and proper affordable housing funds. This is very close to that and yet he still balked.

Not once in this process did he advocate enforcing the existing code.

He criticized the mayor’s mission Beach carve out after it was already removed, and that the affordable housing fee was too low. I don’t think he made any comments on Bry’s amendments.

I don’t know what he’s hedging his bets for…


Retired Botanist July 17, 2018 at 7:02 pm

Very heartening news and even though I’m not living in OB right now I continue to fight against this STVR issue not only for the preservation of OB but for all small residential communities nationally…I’ll talk up this issue to anyone who will listen to me! Kudos to Zapf for steppin’ up, but mostly to all the Obceans, OBTC,and OB Planning Board for their tireless and persistent efforts to insist on the preservation of their neighborhood. Thank you all so much!
However, the win is not over yet and I absolutely agree with Geoff that it will take continued vigilance regarding any sort of grandfathering with respect to the too many STVRs that are already in OB. And I frankly still hold the view that STVRs in a residential area are a violation of zoning code, but if at least the floodgates have been closed…some smiling is in order ?. Way to B, OB!


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