San Diego Is Allowing Granny Flats to Become Short-Term Rentals – In Violation of City Law

by on January 29, 2020 · 3 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

Diagram for a “classic” granny flat.

by Cody Dulaney / inewsource /  January 29, 2020

San Diego City Council members were clear when they voted in September 2017 to loosen restrictions on granny flats. They wanted new affordable housing for San Diegans. None of these small units, built on land with existing homes, were to be rented for less than 30 days.

The city gave property owners about a $15,000 price reduction in permits and fees to encourage development of granny flats — and it worked. Since the law changed, about 600 permits have been issued, compared to 20 in all of 2016.

But inewsource has learned the city has no mechanism in place to ensure the new granny flats aren’t rented for less than 30 days. Officials rely on citizen complaints and code enforcement.

To determine if the law was being violated, inewsource compared two sets of city data — addresses with new granny flat permits against active tax certificates for short-term rentals. The analysis found the city has allowed at least seven granny flats to rent for less than 30 days. But that only represents the property owners who are paying the transient occupancy tax. The true number of illegally operating granny flat vacation rentals could be much higher.

“I think the city has to do better. These individuals who are renting out these granny flats, it’s illegal. It’s against the law, and it’s embarrassing that the city isn’t enforcing it,” said Councilwoman Barbara Bry, who is running for mayor in the March primary and has advocated for restrictions on short-term rentals.

One of the units inewsource found is in Bry’s district.

For the balance of this article, please go here.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

M January 30, 2020 at 6:10 am

City should require these units to have a separate address (1/2 or B). This could service as a data point on how unit is used. Besides, The property owner does not want to be responsible for a tenants mail and for safety issues for emergency personnel. A separate address would also allow tenant to establish credit and eventually move on.


kh January 30, 2020 at 8:38 am

That IS embarrassing, and these are just ones that filed a TOT certificate with the city, the tip of the iceberg, and they can’t be bothered to check against their own records.

It would be as inept as approving an marijuana dispensary permit for a residence.

Also very few vacation rental hosts file certificates. Because there is no enforcement, and because all that list on Airbnb are having TOT deducted regardless. (Let’s hope at least Airbnb is paying that TOT properly to the city, since there Voluntary Collection Agreement leaves no way to trace it.) The VCA is also illegal but whatever those are just laws right?

Kudos to inewsource for their investigative reporting.


Kathy Blavatt January 30, 2020 at 3:23 pm

A sad part about the Air B & B situation is that it pits neighbors against neighbors. Why should residents who pay taxes have to be doing the job of the city for enforcement and have to sit by when the city doesn’t enforce or write regulations dealing with Air B & B.
I also have a problem with SDG& E and water bills, when they put you in tiers, using neighbor’s use when they are Air B & Bs. When it is off season, and not being rented, of course of the Air B&Bs are using less water and electricity. How do we compete with that! Lets not compare apples to lemons!


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