Company Leases Entire Apartment Complexes in San Diego and Turns Them Into Vacation Rentals

by on November 1, 2019 · 63 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

Communities of Point Loma, Downtown, North Park and Little Italy All Suffer Loss of Housing

From abc10News

In the midst of a housing supply crunch, San Diego is seeing apartments taken off market and reserved for short-term vacationers.

The units would add to the estimated 16,000 vacation rentals now available in the City of San Diego, according to a recent audit.

Now, a company called Sonder has signed master leases at apartment complexes and towers in locations including downtown, North Park, Little Italy, and Point Loma. Instead of renting them full time, the company leases them to visitors, charging more than $100 per unit on an average night.

“Every San Diego resident needs to be afraid of that,” said Brian Curry, whose group Save San Diego Neighborhoods is tracking Sonder. “It’s a huge crisis, drives up rents, drives up housing prices.”

Curry’s group estimates Sonder has leased more than 70 units and counting, including entire buildings in some locations.

A spokesman for Sonder declined comment Thursday.

In the past, the company has stated it pays all local taxes and that it has the right to sublease to short-term renters. Additionally, it has noted that developers have used increased revenue from Sonder to build even more market rate units.

Still, City Councilwoman Barbara Bry said she was appalled at the practice and says the city should be ensuring developers deliver on the units the city approves.

“Private developers tell us, ‘let us build more units, let the market take care of our housing problem,’ and then they artificially remove units and turn them into short-term vacation rentals,” she said. “That’s not fair.”

Meanwhile, the city code enforcement division is continuing to investigate The Louisiana complex on University Avenue.

The city approved the complex as a 13-unit mixed-use apartment complex, but Sonder has the master lease for each of the market-rate units.

The only confirmation so far is that the two low-income units on the property are leased to San Diegans who qualified.

{ 63 comments… read them below or add one }

Louisa Golden November 1, 2019 at 12:44 pm

And here I’ve been wondering how some of those excess hotels could be converted to permanent transitional housing units. With a little work, some of those could make nice little studio units to help get people off the street.


retired botanist November 1, 2019 at 4:40 pm

If only, Louisa.
This particular “short-term rental industry” is mushrooming out of control, and city governments, not just San Diego, should be held accountable for the massive displacement of the long-term, local rental population that it is displacing. Shame is inadequate at this point….


Michael Sloothaak November 3, 2019 at 11:12 am

Who claims there are excess hotels in the city? If that’s so, then why is a company like Sonders successful in competing with them?

I’m growing increasingly uncomfortable with the logic expressed here. San Diego may benefit from more and more affordable housing, but the solution is NOT to pit tourists against residents, or to deny or discourage housing to any group of people in favor of another. The solution is to create more housing– for everyone.


kh November 5, 2019 at 10:29 am

It’s cheaper to convert an apartment building as a hotel. Then you don’t have to deal with all those pesky hotel regulations meant to protect life/safety/peace.


Peter from South O November 1, 2019 at 2:20 pm

Don’t overlook the marvelous living conditions the two legitimate long-term renters are having to put up with in a building (Louisiana complex) where 10 out of 13 apartments turn over constantly. If code compliance is looking into the matter, have them team up with parking enforcement and let’s see where those 10 units park their cars overnight. That would be a good piece of data as to neighborhood impact.


Michael Sloothaak November 1, 2019 at 6:08 pm

I’m confused by this article. Do we not want tourists to visit the city? Don’t they contribute a lot to the local economy? Do they not help pay for places we all enjoy like the zoo, Balboa Park, Point Loma, etc? Don’t they need a place to rest/sleep while they are visiting? What about families visiting service members stationed here? I have to ask who benefits from the propagation of a story like this? The big corporate hotels is the first answer that comes to my mind.


Peter from South O November 2, 2019 at 4:47 am

There is a fine line to walk when discussing this issue, as the Coastal Commission has made low-cost or no-cost access to the beaches a civil right in California. That SVRs play a role in this access has been the rationale for their resistance to most of the local attempts to get STRs restricted in the coastal strip.
On the other hand, housing crisis housing crisis and housing crisis (did I mention the housing crisis?). STRs displacing long-term residences result in higher rents, less housing availability when there is a severe shortage of affordable housing, etc. etc. etc.
So, Michael, don’t be confused; it is complicated, but not unintelligible.
It isn’t the big hotels that benefit from a story like this, it is the regular citizen who prefers not to sleep in the street. The apartments were built for long term occupancy. The builders took advantage of the perks that come with that stated purpose when they built the 13 apartments. Now the owners have leased out the vast majority of those units to be SVRs. Simple, Michael, simple.


Michael Sloothaak November 3, 2019 at 7:26 am

“The apartments were built for long term occupancy. The builders took advantage of the perks that come with that stated purpose when they built the 13 apartments. Now the owners have leased out the vast majority of those units to be SVRs. Simple, Michael, simple.”

Okay. First the apartments were built to make money, not for “long term occupancy.” The builders had lawyers, and no one is pointing out to me where the builders violated a law or a clause in a contract. As I understand it, they set aside– as they were obliged to do– two units for low-income residents. They are free to charge what the market will bear for the rest of them. I don’t see the logic of being upset because the person in the bedroom is a tourist, and not a resident. The logic you are using would make me think we should be demanding the city’s hotels be converted to “long term occupancy.” just as loudly. Why aren’t you demanding that?


kh November 5, 2019 at 4:00 pm

The Coastal Commission’s overreach into municipal zoning has been rebuffed recently. We have free roads, free parking lots, buses, Uber’s, airplanes, legal hotels. No one is being denied affordable access to the coast.

Coastal has no more right to force cities to allow tourists in the house next door to you than they have a right to stick them in your bedroom.


Chris November 3, 2019 at 5:14 am

You’re killing me Smalls!! Are you really that confused? Yes we want tourists but the housing issue far far outweighs everything else. The tourists can either stay in a hotel/motel or if they do use a service like airbnb they can make a point to stay some place where the owner actually lives there and is just renting out a room as opposed to short term vacation unit. I do that all the time when traveling. As for families visiting service members, what about them? They can do the same thing as any other visitors to the city. Plus most service members either live off base or in government contracted housing so visiting family members can stay with them just like anyone else who visits a local resident. You’re confusion is gobsmacking.


Peter from South O November 3, 2019 at 6:42 am

Who is this Smalls that is killing you?


Michael Sloothaak November 3, 2019 at 7:35 am

Well Chris, if that’s the case, are you advocating that we close all those “tourist magnet” institutions like the Zoo, Balboa Park, Point Loma, Waterfront Park and the USS Midway? Think about it. Not only would demotivating all those tourists open up lots of rooms for residents, it would cause enough unemployment to drive a bunch of low income residents out of the city to go work where ever those tourists end up visiting. Your logic makes no sense to me. I’m still not convinced I’m wrong in thinking that both tourists and residents are critical to the city’s success, and that any enterprise that does a good job of serving either better deserves my support.


Chris November 3, 2019 at 9:02 am

I gave you examples. I didn’t say that tourists are not critical to our economy and I do not accept that was your takeaway. You might want to be a bit more honest in expressing your opinions. Right now the whole STVR thing has spiraled out of control and needs to be addressed. And on another note, it DOES matter to a lot of residents that their neighbors are actual residents rather than a revolving door of tourists. It may not matter to you but it does to me and just about everyone I know. Not just SD but lots of other cities. You’re lying by saying you don’t understand my logic. The truth is you simply don’t agree with it.


Michael Sloothaak November 3, 2019 at 9:16 am

“Right now the whole STVR thing has spiraled out of control and needs to be addressed. ”


“And on another note, it DOES matter to a lot of residents that their neighbors are actual residents rather than a revolving door of tourists. It may not matter to you but it does to me and just about everyone I know.”

Again, these are human beings, and what you are arguing there is that they are somehow lesser than you or I. I absolutely reject that kind of prejudicial logic. Tourists– however foreign and scary to you– are just as likely nice and good humans as local people. They are also people who are bring in money and creating some of the jobs that keep your other neighbors employed.

I sincerely didn’t understand your logic earlier, but I beginning to understand it much better now. And indeed: I simply don’t agree with it. I won’t be embracing xenophobia, no matter how many people in SD or other cities share your unreasonable fears about tourists.


Chris November 3, 2019 at 11:19 am

Why? Is that a serious question? There’s been plenty of articles in the rag and other news outlets. How about driving rents up to the point few people can afford to live here? And again with the revolving door of tourists in residential neighborhoods it has negative effects on the sense of community and character of that neighborhood. It has nothing to do with being scared of tourists. Nowhere in this whole thread did I say we don’t need tourists, but there needs to be better balance than what’s going on right now (out of control STVRs). I still don’t belive you don’t understand that. You just simply don’t care. You are ok with local residents being displaced.


Michael Sloothaak November 5, 2019 at 10:57 am

“And again with the revolving door of tourists in residential neighborhoods it has negative effects on the sense of community and character of that neighborhood. It has nothing to do with being scared of tourists. ”

Those statements are contradictory. I go back to my original contention: only the big downtown corporate hotels benefit when you argue along the lines of “I don’t hate tourists, I just don’t want them in my neighborhood.” That’s a familiar refrain, yet it still rings just as hollow.


Peter from South O November 5, 2019 at 2:29 pm

This is not about tourists. This is about a structural flaw in our housing policy. I am surrounded by STVRs up here, and they putter right along, transient residents come and go, and Oceanside regulates them, taxes them, and enforces our ordinance with fines and licence revocation.
However, I watched my neighbors, one by one, getting forced out of their apartments, some after more than a decade. The technique was a familiar one: a horrific period of living with ‘improvements’ being done on a daily basis, followed by a 50% rent increase in the middle of the project.
Oversimplifying a problem by focusing on the micro rather than the macro can lead to faulty conclusions.


retired botanist November 5, 2019 at 3:42 pm

Excuse me, but when did residential neighborhoods become free range for tourist accommodations?!! No one is generically bashing tourists or their contribution to local revenues, but talk about encroachment?! People who actually live and work in San Diego, need to actually live and work in San Diego….this whole thing is so counterproductive to everything community plans espouse. Ugh.


retired botanist November 5, 2019 at 3:49 pm

and that wasn’t meant specifically about your comment, Peter O, just my irritated take on this whole thing…


kh November 5, 2019 at 3:54 pm

Tourists are welcome to visit San Diego’s parks and amenities and hotels but they have no business taking up space in residential neighborhoods or residential parking aside from whatever guests come visit said residents on occasion.

On second thought maybe we should also revamp our elementary schools to serve the needs of the tourist’s children. Maybe some Disney characters and carnival rides. Serving the needs of the actual residents is such an old fashioned idea, and frankly they aren’t very spendy.


Christopher Thomas November 3, 2019 at 8:50 am
Michael Sloothaak November 3, 2019 at 9:03 am

So Christopher, I have to assume don’t want to close all the San Diego tourist attractions. I’m guessing you are actually in favor of taxes being used to support them. I imagine that is the position of the big hotel chains and cyber-corporations like AirBnB. The only bad tourist is the tourist that shuns those big corporations in favor of a smaller alternative. I imagine that this is the position of the big hotel chains and cyber-corporations as well. Now I’m trying to imagine what kind of tourist would be searching out these alternatives to the big corporations? What is the kind of tourist you don’t want in San Diego? The one who has a more modest income? The lower middle-class family who has to shop around to find an affordable place to say? What’s your problem with that kind of tourist? (The kind of tourist I am.)

Tourists– even the more modest tourist you seem to denigrate– add much to our local economy. They MAKE many of the modest service jobs that people in San Diego need to survive. Take those jobs away, and those local people of modest incomes won’t be able to afford the those units you claim you are freeing up for them no matter the rent is.


Chris November 3, 2019 at 11:44 am

How did you come to the conclusion I am “denigrating” tourists of modest means? Lol. You really seem to make stuff up.


Michael Sloothaak November 8, 2019 at 12:18 pm

Again, quoting you: “And on another note, it DOES matter to a lot of residents that their neighbors are actual residents rather than a revolving door of tourists. It may not matter to you but it does to me and just about everyone I know. ”

Now, substitute “greedy jews” “lazy negroes” “dirty hispanics” or “promiscuous gays” for “revolving door tourists” and anyone can see the prejudice that is going on. A short term resident IS a resident, and IS a person. But you are implying that “resident” and “tourist” are opposite concepts: “good humans” vs. “something other.”

I live in a building (not far from the one in question) on Texas and Howard. Residents come and go. Many live here for less than a year. The building allows no temporary sublets along the lines of AirBnB. While the revolving door is a bit slower here, still people come and go, and that doesn’t make them less human than people who lived in the building since it opened. Greet and be polite to the tourists in your neighborhood, you may find out they are just as, nice, generous, and caring as other people in your neighborhood.

I can’t repeat this enough: the solution to a shortage of housing is more housing units, not picking out one group of people and denigrating them: defining them as less worthy of a place to live in your neighborhood.

I know of no religion that doesn’t condemn the exploitation or denigration of travelers and visitors. That should be giving you some indication of the track you are taking.


triggerfinger November 11, 2019 at 5:19 pm

Really, so this is a civil rights debate? Yes we discriminate against coal miners and hookers from doing their thing as well in residential neighborhoods. Tourists on vacation are a fundamentally different group than residents raising families, working, attending school. Businesses raising cattle are fundamentally different than those repairing watches. This is why we have zoning laws. I’ll send you a copy of SimCity on floppy disk and you can practice your hand at it.

“such rentals undoubtedly affect the essential character of a neighborhood and the stability of a community. Short-term tenants have little interest in public agencies or in the welfare of the citizenry. They do not participate in local government, coach little league, or join the hospital guild. They do not lead a Scout troop, volunteer at the library, or keep an eye on an elderly neighbor. Literally, they are here today and gone tomorrow — without engaging in the sort of activities that weld and strengthen a community.” Ewing v City of Carmel-by-the-Sea (1991), 234 Cal.App.3d1579

Tourists are absolutely not residents. Tourists do not belong in our housing for 3 days at a time any more than locals belong in the Marriot for 3 years at a time.


Jack November 3, 2019 at 3:45 pm

So, in this same vein. I own rentals, have tenants i have not raised rents on in 10 years. However since our Great StateGovernor is now involved in “rent control” i will be advising all my tenants from this time forward i will be raising my rents every 12 months, as it is “bad business” not to do it, and in order for me not to have my rents “locked” at the low rates they are at. I am now being punished for being a good landlord. It’s my property, i took the risks, took the calls, made mortgage payments for 30 years, did the evictions for non payment of rents and lost that money plus paid attorney’s thousands of dollars while my tenants got “free” legal advise and help, had walls kicked in, doors broken, windows broken out, took complaints from neighbors over the years and handled the property. My reward in my retirement now is “let us tell you what you have to do, how much you can charge, who you must rent to and how you can evict someone. I will not invest anymore $ in this State, bad deal.


Frank Gormlie November 4, 2019 at 9:46 am

Jack – one of your chief rewards for being a good landlord up to now is the money your tenants have sent you these past 10 years; their money has greatly helped you in paying the mortgages and financing your lifestyle (how many rentals do you have?) – a small detail you failed to mention. So, don’t now turn around and punish your tenants.


retired botanist November 5, 2019 at 4:58 pm

Thank you, Frank


Jack November 5, 2019 at 9:12 pm

So Frank, if i take all the risks, give up my day’s off and work on my property after i put in an 8 hour day, get called out on holidays from dinners, all this for 30 years, you think this is a “lifestyle” and my tenants “helped” me pay my mortgages. How about i provided a “service” at a price that was a “deal” and benefited them, they had their days off, called me for everything, did not clean up for themselves, caused neighbors to call me and complain about loud parties and when they decided to move had no consideration for me “paying my mortgage”. Admittedly not all tenants are this way, but there are plenty of them. You have no idea what you are talking about, i do. I have 12 rentals and currently $900,000.00 in mortgages, plus pay taxes, insurance, San Diego business taxes, re-roof’s, trash service, pay water, trash service, landscaping window replacements, door replacements and on and on and on. I drove Geo Metros till i was 70 and now drive a 2002 Lexus. Never been to Europe, never traveled much, own no stocks and am a retired patrolman. Life is great, Yah……..


retired botanist November 6, 2019 at 1:43 pm

Jack- whaaat?! Now you sound like you’re just whining. You chose to be a landlord with 12 rental properties! You chose $900K in debt! You chose a Geo Metro (whatever that is). You chose the tenants you rented to. And yes, their rental $s offset your mortgage bills, or your electric bills, or trash bills, whatever…
And now you’re choosing to whine about “your lot in life”?! Sounds like you haven’t been on the tenant end of the stick for a long time, if ever. If only there were enough rental properties available for tenants to actually be able to “choose” their landlords…or a price-range of affordability!
I’ve been a renter for almost 25 years, 22 of them in San Diego, and would be happy to counter your ‘hardships” with tales of the landlords I’ve had…


Jack November 6, 2019 at 7:18 pm

Retired Botanist you sound like someone who wants others to make up for your short sightedness in choosing to “rent” instead of investing in yourself. Now its “their” fault you are not in a good position. So sorry. Your mistake not mine. Better judgement could have gone a long way, you snooze you loose. Sorry for your situation, but you made your bed, now you must sleep in it.


retired botanist November 7, 2019 at 3:06 pm

Jack, that’s a pretty comical inference- who said I’ve been shortsighted?! Who said I wasn’t in a good position?! Who said I’m blaming anyone for what YOU see as my diminished quality of life?!! For the record, I was a homeowner for the 20 yrs prior to becoming a renter, not that that is relevant in any way-
Can you possibly see by your comment how narrow your world view is? That we should all be home owners? That we should all amass thousands of dollars in debt? That anyone who doesn’t OWN a home should somehow be pitied?!
When the planet finally forces the “live small” concept onto billions of people, it is YOU I’ll feel sorry for. I’ve adjusted…not that the transition has been made easy by avaricious landlords (and I am NOT accusing you of being such), short-sighted municipalities, and a completely jacked-up, arcane myth that materialism brings us either wealth, security or peace of mind. You’ve said as much yourself: all those unrewarding repairs, those call-outs on holidays, those careless and sloppy tenants… I mean, why would you continue to do something that, seemingly, isn’t very satisfying?
Please don’t put words in my mouth. I disapprove of the whole STVR wave, and believe it rapes communities, but that’s a far cry from the nature of my judgement regarding my own circumstances.
Wake up, the world is changing :-)


Chris November 6, 2019 at 6:56 pm
nostalgic November 3, 2019 at 5:55 pm

A reminder that none of these Vacation Rental Apartments/Hotels meet or have to meet the requirements of the municipal code, such as fire inspections, clearly marked exits, and other hotel-requirements based on safety. In fact, they may be eligible for liquor licenses.


Jack November 3, 2019 at 6:11 pm

These Vacation Rental Apartments are just that, Apartments, which don’t have and are not required to have Fire inspections, Marked exits or other hotel requirements, they are as safe as any Apartment so i don’t your point. What does “eligible for liquor licenses have to do with it. They “may” be eligible for many things i guess. Car wash, retail sales, wholesale products, who knows. Actually i was told my place could be a business if i chose. So what.


Lyle November 3, 2019 at 9:28 pm

Also, hotels are required to meet ADA requirements to accomodate handicapped people. Meeting these requirements costs the hotel owner money to provide a certain level of safety for guests, while STVR guests are not provided this same level of safety. The results could be tragic.


Vern November 4, 2019 at 6:16 am

ADA guidelines took effect January 26, 1990, with apartment communities in existence before that date receiving different treatment than apartments built after. Though ADA doesn’t cover strictly residential private apartments and homes, public access areas of apartment communities fall under the act’s accessibility provisions. Pre-ADA apartment communities must remove barriers to access of their public areas.

They also likely must follow NFPA code as well as fairly new/updated Prop 65 rules.


kh November 5, 2019 at 10:32 am

What is the point of code enforcement taking a look at it? The Mayor has made it very clear he will not enforce the existing code.


Doug Blackwood November 5, 2019 at 7:33 pm

Michael, me thinks you don’t have a grasp of the worldwide dilema of residents being displaced by Vacation Rentals!
Do some research, please. Oh, when did you move here?


Chris November 6, 2019 at 7:30 am

I think Michael has a lot more grasp than he is leading us to believe. There is no way he has the intellectual capacity to open a door knob and not understand the dilemma. He is playing stupid for the sole purpose of arguing for argument’s sake. The real truth behind is stance is that he feels as a property owner he should have unlimited rights to do with has property as he chooses. He doesn’t’ in reality care about tourists anymore than any residents who get displaced.


micporte November 6, 2019 at 5:58 am

I would like to address the elephant in the room, cannabis tourism, check out the multitude of internet sites, (aka 420 tourism) as one of the factors that has suddenly expanded the demand for a vacation trip to San Diego, arguably one of the coolest beach cities in the world, and now with legal cannabis consumption… Sea World entries are down, and so are the zoo’s, and visiting military families here? not a huge market I suspect… I think it is the cannabi$ industry that is behind a lot of this movement, not only do they rake it in with corporate cannabism , but with that money they lease and rent out STVR’s, and “home deliver” the goodies too, just a phone click away… and the stoned, and drunk tourists then crash and burn on their scooters. high times in SD


sealintheSelkirks November 6, 2019 at 9:12 pm

I just read through the comments.

Whew. Strawman arguments, comparing apples and oranges, entitlement because ‘I own it therefore I can f**k the neighborhood by destroying any sense of community or care for the land/area/place attitude.

Think on this.

For 98% of our species history, no maybe 99.75% we have been intimately tied to land and place, to our neighbors two and four legged and winged. All intimately tied together. Part of our beings, our consciousness, was to the shade of the forest on a hot day, the stream that quenched our thirst, and the dirt that grew our food. And what we call ‘neighborhoods’ in the dead concrete and asphalt wastelands of cities is all that there is left of that extremely long history of being part of a ‘place.’ Is it any wonder that people are fighting STVR insanity?

STVR takeovers kills neighborhoods dead. All the neighbors get shoved out onto the street (hey, the whole CITY goes STVR, how about that?). And every single empty piece of available land gets built on because of the ‘housing crunch’ but as soon as they are built they turn into…wait for it…STVRs too! UP goes the rents on what’s left as more and more people…can’t afford the rents. Well hell then, it’s obvious that more places need built. Round and round it goes until there isn’t anything left to build on. Literally there isn’t any ground left. Unless of course you are a wealthy tourist from somewhere else and it doesn’t matter because there aren’t any STVRs in your hometown and you still live in a neighborhood.

So how about thinking on this landlords and colonialist types. Here’s one of those strawman argument for ya:

The neighbor next to your home decides to put in a toxic waste processing plant because (and hopefully you all will get this analogy) he will make a LOT more money than just renting STVRs. You don’t like it but because it’s his property and he can do what he wants with it so you have to just shut-your-mouth and suck fumes.

STRVs are Toxic Waste. Toxic to the neighborhood and all that implies.

That ‘screw you can’t tell me what to do with MY land’ is what got us into this deforested toxic landscape we call USA in the first place. But that’s okay because somebody made a lot of money doing it, right. And besides, it was their land.

But remember all this land we are discussing was STOLEN BY MURDER & RAPE and the dismemberment of a thousands-of-years-old stabile non-biosphere-destroying culture. Which we are definitely not.

The attitude I see here is so…Manifest Destiny! So 19th Century Robber Baron. That is scary thinking. That is not a history I would like to see continued but obviously that mindset hasn’t evolved anywhere near as quickly as our technology nor our capacity for destruction without care or concern (y’all hear me Trump and Hillary?).

So here’s a link to a pretty dang good STVR article, with links, and with some quite incisive comments if you want to spend the time reading through them, about this “nightmare” as it is titled. Quite appropriately titled, don’t you think? This nightmare is sweeping over this country like a freaking plague. That ‘free market’ bullcrap is just that. Can’t they just be honest and call it greed?

Local, state governments struggle over how to regulate short-term rental nightmare

disclosure: I have been a landlord, after being a renter (both while growing up and adult) for the first 30+ years of my life in OB and MB. There were landlords that were good, there were landlords that deserved to have broken doors and holes in the walls because they were like Trump’s Father the Slumlord that famous folksinger Woodie Guthrie wrote a song about. I’ve owned homes in Cali, both in San Diego and top of Palomar Mt., and both home and rentals in Mt. Shasta and Arcata; and now a home & acreage in the Selkirks. I never ever had anybody kick in my walls, and I always, every time, gave back their security deposits.

Limit and severely regulate STVRs. That’s the only true option here.



retired botanist November 7, 2019 at 3:11 pm

Hey Seal- Haha, if only I had your energy with the pen! Thx!


Frank Gormlie November 7, 2019 at 3:14 pm

Key word is “keyboard” – or is it “keybored”?


retired botanist November 7, 2019 at 4:59 pm

Haha, Frank, I thought about editing that to keyboard instead of ‘pen’- there’s the old school coming out, but then, my laziness and your keen eye to ‘up’ the comment simply did it for me :-)


sealintheSelkirks November 7, 2019 at 8:14 pm

What? Are you and Frank calling me an…exuberant typist? I really do try to not write so many words but my fingers don’t listen very well I guess.

My stepkids called me their ‘noisy’ stepdad when they were little. Perceptive little devils they were.

And don’t worry about being old school, retired botanist. I just finished editing the fourth and final draft of my book two weeks ago, and the only way I can really get a feel for how the story flows and where the last changes go…is with 112k words/600k characters printed out on a stack of freaking paper and a red pen in my hand, so I’m obviously VERY old school, lady! Cost me 18 bucks to get it printed off a thumbdrive this time…earlier drafts killed my printer ink and that stuff has gotten ridiculously expensive. And I ran out of red ink pens twice over the course of all the drafts the last 3 1/2 years.

Well, at least you two understood what I was trying to say. Thanks!



retired botanist November 8, 2019 at 1:26 pm

Write on and right on, Seal :-)


Doug Blackwood November 8, 2019 at 7:17 pm

Mahalo Seal: Great summation on the “Vacay Rentals Plague”!
As Tomcat Courtney would say: “right on, with your right on-baby!


Doug Blackwood November 9, 2019 at 10:03 pm

Michael: Residents make communities: tourists visit them.
This is my home!


Michael Sloothaak November 10, 2019 at 7:51 am

“Michael: Residents make communities: tourists visit them.”

That makes no sense. Why can’t tourists contribute to making a community? Would we have the same zoo and Balboa park, the same beautiful Hotel Del Coronado, etc etc if not for the tourists and the money they bring in? If not for the contributions of tourists, would you even want this to be your home? And it isn’t just the money. They are nice, interesting diverse people: we get glimpses of Japan, of China, of Europe and Mexico every day. Why would you want to throw all that away? Why would I want to let you do that to MY community? So I could experience the same people, the same languages every day? So I could never be challenged by new ideas? So I won’t be stimulated by the Art Museum or Gorillas? Can’t we both get what we want if you’d just move to Santee?


sealintheSelkirks November 10, 2019 at 1:03 pm

Michael, you are conflating tourist and their money, people who have no emotional attachment nor any actual care for the life of a place, with community which is made up of people that most certainly do.

This involves two diametrically opposite mindsets. One raises their children there and the other brings their children there. One group cares about a place and how it functions every day, the other…not so much. After all, they’re leaving shortly so why would they?

Then to throw in Balboa Park and the Zoo and Hotel Del? Really? More strawman arguments. What, you don’t think that the people of San Diego appreciate their wonderful park and zoo, don’t take their own kids? Are you kidding? I’m sure you aren’t the only resident in San Diego who is stimulated by an Art Museum and gorillas at the Zoo.

disclosure: I actually feel sorry for the gorillas, our genetic cousins. They were kidnapped and thrown in prison for life and they were innocent of any crimes…

As for all those nice people from around the world you talked about, just how many of those have you brought home to dinner for enlightening conversations and stimulating personal interaction? Probably few if any I would guess. Tourists come for one reason, to have fun for a very short time, take a bunch of selfies (with the natives in the background-think old National Geographic magazine), and then go home. Very little interaction between the two groups obviously. Except serving them dinner in restaurants or taking their money…or cleaning up after them. Are you in the services ‘industry’-low paid grunt work perhaps?

Same with you looking at tourists it sounds like; you enjoy ‘glimpses’ of Europe and Asia etc etc. What does that mean? Are they wearing their national costumes from home or are they wearing, you know, pants and shirts and shoes? And then you mention getting to hear their ‘stimulating languages’…that you probably don’t speak so you have no freaking idea what they are talking about but you…are challenged by new ideas from hearing a language you can’t speak? What ideas?

You’d probably be shocked at what they were saying if you did know Mandarin or Swahili. I’ve laughed out loud at some of the Spanish-speaking folks who thought none of the white people around them knew what they were saying…rude and crude and hilarious ‘glimpses’ of US culture through their eyes that definitely made me take a second look at what they were commenting on. I often agreed.

I mean, what is with this glimpse thing? How…shallow an attitude that speaks of. In a sense you sound like a tourist yourself but one who stays in place immersing himself with the glimpses of those that come into and rapidly disappear from around you. No offense meant but that’s weird.

I sat here trying to figure out just what new ideas you are going to find in the kind of scenario you are describing. I’m…at a loss for words on that.

I’m rarely at a loss for words. OB Rag knows that already…

And don’t worry, if STVRs continue as they are maybe you’ll be moving to Santee with Doug. Or maybe the Borrego Desert once San Diego goes completely STVR. You might even end up as neighbors! Then you can really have some stimulating conversations that challenge your world view with poor Doug…



Michael Sloothaak November 11, 2019 at 8:34 am

“Michael, you are conflating tourist and their money, people who have no emotional attachment nor any actual care for the life of a place, with community which is made up of people that most certainly do.”

Sorry, No. I visit Britain when I can and I have a strong emotional attachment to it. And I know too, too many people who have never left San Diego who also certainly do NOT actually care or contribute to the life of the place. Please don’t promote false prejudices and bigotries.


retired botanist November 10, 2019 at 3:50 pm

Michael, indeed, we would still have and enjoy beautiful Balboa Park b/c, believe it or not, local people actually support with their attendance and their dollars, these wonderful local sites. Do you?
And these tourists you’re so infatuated with, these are the same tourists that keep disgraces like Seaworld going, that litter the streets with e-scooters, and that foul the beaches with carelessly discarded waste and litter- the usual “not my nest, so why not foul it? Not my backyard.” Totally thoughtless to the nth degree. Obviously not all of them, but enough of them to ruin it for everyone…
Most locals do not have a problem with tourists, and realize that SD, and places like OB in particular, are destination attractions. But that doesn’t mean that tourists should be allowed to displace local residents who live and work in districts like OB. If they have the time and resources to come and enjoy the magic, they should have the courtesy and conscientiousness to leave a smaller footprint and not encroach and spoil the very thing they are here to experience.
STVRs are a scourge. And believe me, I have to bite the inside of my cheek, as many members in my own family network use AirBnB in other areas, and while I try not to judge them for their shortsightedness, they are just myopic about the damage their subscription inflicts on residential communities.
What’s wrong with a hotel in a hotel district? Too expensive? Not convenient enough? Its all so 1st world. I don’t want to begrudge anyone a well-deserved holiday, but if it comes at the cost of displacing hard-working, rental people who can’t even afford holidays of any caliber, then I would hope they could connect a few more dots. Because it seems clear that avaricious developers and landlords certainly aren’t doing that. Either here or in any of the other thousands of cities that are coping with this subsequent housing shortage.


Peter from South O November 10, 2019 at 6:21 pm

RB: DON’T move to Santee. Trust me. You do not want that.


Michael Sloothaak November 11, 2019 at 8:58 am

“Michael, indeed, we would still have and enjoy beautiful Balboa Park b/c, believe it or not, local people actually support with their attendance and their dollars, these wonderful local sites. Do you?”

I visit Balboa Park regularly and I would guess a third to half of the people I pass by there are tourists. Could these institutions survive a fifty percent cut in their budget?

“And these tourists you’re so infatuated with, these are the same tourists that keep disgraces like Seaworld going, that litter the streets with e-scooters, and that foul the beaches with carelessly discarded waste and litter- the usual “not my nest, so why not foul it? Not my backyard.” Totally thoughtless to the nth degree. Obviously not all of them, but enough of them to ruin it for everyone…”

Again, this is promoting false prejudice and bigotry. Locals litters, locals use scooters, and the idea that we should stop short term rentals to stop Seaworld seems quite the stretch in logic.

“Most locals do not have a problem with tourists, and realize that SD, and places like OB in particular, are destination attractions. But that doesn’t mean that tourists should be allowed to displace local residents who live and work in districts like OB.”

I assume “OB” means Ocean Beach. The building discussed is not in Ocean Beach. It is in my neighborhood: North Park. But you have to understand that–other than a few day trippers– tourists need a place to sleep just like other human beings. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. You can’t forbid tourists to displace local residents and still expect their money. Your reckless ideas would displace many more residents and workers than any AirBnB would.

“STVRs are a scourge. And believe me, I have to bite the inside of my cheek, as many members in my own family network use AirBnB in other areas, and while I try not to judge them for their shortsightedness, they are just myopic about the damage their subscription inflicts on residential communities.”

Maybe you should have more faith in your own family network. Maybe you are the victim of the myopia, and not them. Myopia can be tricky that way.


Vern November 11, 2019 at 11:24 am

Maybe consider leaving well enough alone for now, MS.
Consider a volunteer opportunity at the Starlight Theater.
See SaveStarlight dot org.


retired botanist November 11, 2019 at 2:36 pm

Michael, aah, more to learn in what you haven’t said than what you have said:
1. So you visit Balboa regularly. Lots of folks do. But do you actually support the museums there with your dollar? That’s the crux. That 1/3 to 1/2 of the people you see drifting around the Park? Yeah, well guess what. They aren’t going into those museums and paying the entrance fee, they aren’t purchasing yearly subscriptions, they’re just cruising around the grounds, watching the buskers, maybe hitting the greenhouse b/c its free. Then they’re off to spend $150 dollars to get into SeaWorld with their kids. Its locals that actually support the subsistence of the Park. Don’t believe me? Call Natural History or Mingei and inquire-
2. Of course local people litter, too. I’ll call out anyone who litters, resident or not. But come on: the ratio of tourists to residents during the high season? That come-back is just flimsy.
3. Of course tourists need a place to sleep! And of course they are welcome to experience OB. Just sleep in one of the several hundred hotels or motels that are situated within 10 minutes of OB. That come-back is also flimsy, and with way too much violin (or cowbell)!
4. North Park, Golden Hill, Hillcrest- the location of YOUR building isn’t the point, is it? Ocean Beach (yes OB is Ocean Beach) has tried mightily to stem the flood of displacement. Or, are you trying to say that b/c your building is located somewhere else that makes the STVR industry ok?
5. I have ALOT of faith in my family network and am working vigorously to educate them about the cultural cost of their choices. To be frank, most are homeowners in areas not inundated by thousands of tourists, and are simply unaware of the impact their choices make.

We’ll obviously never agree on this topic, but by having you rise to the chum of my comments lets other see the perspective, character, and priorities of developers and ‘flippers’. :)


triggerfinger November 11, 2019 at 9:54 am

You guys are both being ridiculous. Nobody is proposing banning tourism. Just unattended hotels in residential neighborhoods.

Though I do vaguely remember San Diego before Airbnb. It was basically a dust bowl, with no parks or museums. Just an awful place, with nothing to do. Unused roads got grown over with weeds, the restaurants all closed, businesses were forced to sell meager goods to residents instead of $2.99 beach umbrellas and lifeguard hoodies. I couldn’t even rent my driveway out for money, nobody ever came. :’(


retired botanist November 11, 2019 at 2:38 pm

Haha, Trig, good one!


Doug Blackwood November 11, 2019 at 10:20 am

Michael, please go away, return to your place of origin: get a job with Airbnb!
Bye bye now.


sealintheSelkirks November 11, 2019 at 11:07 am

triggerfinger: Finally somebody with a sense of humor shows up to the party! One who vaguely remembers San Diego before Airbnb…as a Dust Bowl! I love it! Of course my memories go back a bit further than Airbnb, too, since I was born in OB in 1954…did I find anything to do? I don’t remember, that old age surfer memory thing popping up again! Probably the Surfer’s Ear affecting memory?

Of course the sense of humor you have is most likely based on the reality that San Diego is part of the NW coastline of the Northern Sonora Desert where (if I remember correctly) the first two invading Spanish groups died to the last man, woman, and child of hunger and thirst. I’m assuming those people would have most definitely thought this place wasn’t…idyllic like it is now…with what, 2 million in the county or more?

Can you imagine what San Diego will look like when the giant straws to the Colorado River (and elsewhere) break during the overdue-but-expected massive San Andreas earthquake? Or when there isn’t ‘enough’ water from that river (already radically over-allocated) to send this far west? All the imported trees will die off, Balboa Park will go back to being that dusty hill of yesteryear, and OB will look like…the pictures in the OB Historical Society’s book ‘Images of America, Ocean Beach.’ One big dry rock because even the springs that the Kumeyaay natives knew about are gone…buried under concrete/asphalt and buildings. Them tourists in Airbnb STVRs are gonna get mighty thirsty about then, eh? HA!

I stand on my earlier statement. Limit and severely regulate STVRs. That’s the only true option here. Support communities instead.



retired botanist November 11, 2019 at 4:03 pm

True that, Seal, and yes, without an injection of humor, whatever the topic, we’re otherwise doomed to rage. :) Take your pick.
The SoCal environment is precariously perched, no question, given that all its ‘greenery” has been artificially cultivated and fed from afar. Still, I’ll take that over a golf course any day, never been to Las Vegas, but wtf is up with THAT place?!
And anything that builds urban tree canopy still sits well with me, water-expensive tho it is. We need more urban canopy (haha =more cowbell!) globally, whether its SD, Las Vegas, or any other metropolis!
Everything new requires math of some sort in calculating cost/benefit, especially with regard to water. But the cost/benefit idea is totally lost on me with respect to the STVR industry. It simply supports nothing good except instant gratification, for the landlord who’s gleaning a ton of shekels, and for the tourist who’s getting some super discount on the cost of his/her vacay. If we can’t get beyond the concept of “super discount” – and gawd what a corporate concept THAT is, where are we headed?
In a nutshell, there are so many other ways to better generate some income, do a good service to those around you, be mindful of the society of people who live and work in the community, and minimize, to the extent possible, environmental impact.
San Diego reverting to its natural habitat, dusty desert, is a bit gloomy to be sure, but honestly we aren’t really asking that of STVRs owners, are we? :) Just be a good landlord, if that is your bent. Rent to people who NEED your space, not to people who want to occupy for a week. How hard is that?! :-)


Doug Blackwood November 11, 2019 at 1:11 pm

Seal: “right on with your right on baby” Tomcat Courtney


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