‘Urged on by Travel Platform, Jen Campbell Throws Her Constituents Under the Short Term Rental Bus’

by on July 2, 2020 · 7 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

Here is the response released Wednesday to Councilwoman Jen Campbell’s proposal on regulating short term vacation rentals in San Diego by the main organization that has opposed STVRs for the past half-decade, Save San Diego Neighborhoods:

Driven By Expedia D2 Councilmember Jennifer Campbell Throws Her Constituents and San Diego Residents Under the Short Term Rental Bus

July 1, 2020 – It appears Councilmember Campbell has learned the political ropes in San Diego fairly quickly. She was elected less than two years ago. She told voters in District 2 that she was adamantly opposed to short term vacation rentals in San Diego residential zones – her constituent’s neighborhoods. And she said, she would work with her fellow councilmembers to enforce the existing Municipal Code, which prohibits short term rentals.

What a difference an election and eighteen months in office can make. This afternoon Councilmember Campbell rolled out a proposed short term vacation rental ordinance that would legalize short term vacation rentals in San Diego neighborhoods.

She didn’t do this alone. She did it with the help of one of the largest multinational short term vacation rental corporations in the world, Expedia, Inc. who touts itself as, “the parent company of leading short term rental brands, Vrbo and Homeaway.”

One has to ask, why – and why now?

Why, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, which has so severely damaged San Diego’s economy – including hotels and motels – would Councilmember Campbell want to legalize short term vacation rentals in San Diego neighborhoods?

Why, when San Diego is suffering under the worst housing shortage – and homelessness crisis -in decades, would Councilmember Campbell advocate for the conversion of residential homes
to short term vacation rentals for tourist accommodations?

And, why is Councilmember Campbell so anxious to have this proposed ordinance considered by the full Council this month – July? Why is she ramrodding this proposed ordinance which we
have yet to even see?

And finally, if, as Councilmember Campbell says, she talked to all the “stakeholders” – which includes San Diego residents, Town Councils and Planning Groups – why then is it that the only
community member present at the press conference was a short term vacation rental owner/operator?

These and other questions, including how the City will pay for the administration and policing of Councilmember Campbell’s new ordinance, need to be answered.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

bobo July 2, 2020 at 1:14 pm

While I agree with Save SD Neighborhoods that an outright ban is preferable, it’s not realistic. Opposition to a 100% ban was already turned away by voters (even though the vote itself was riddled with underhanded petition practices by AirBnB).

Rather than an unrealistic and not-achievable 100% ban, this new compromise limits STVRs to commercial zones, allows some shared home rentals (as long as homeowners are present) and puts a cap on whole-home STVRs via permit. There are an estimated +16,000 whole house STVRs in SD. The permitting process will allow just under 4,000 (a 70% reduction).

This is politics by reasonable compromise. Everybody looses something and no one wins everything. We’ll put 8,000 housing units lost to STVRs back into the market and at least 8,000 families or individuals will be able to move back into affordable homes. And we’ll limit the “wild west” of STVRs in SD long term. So while not an all-out win, its a reasonable compromise that benefits the community.
Disagree: fight me with civilized responses


John Thickstun July 3, 2020 at 12:06 pm

Santa Barbara, Carmel, Santa Monica, Manhattan Beach, Laguna Beach, Hermosa beach, Coronado and fifty other cities throughout California prohibit – that is “ban” – short term rentals in residential zones – successfully. There are cities and states all over the country – including New York, that have done the same. Why? Because these cities understand the desperate need for residential housing – and that residential housing is for residents, not tourists. Stating the obvious – residential zones are created and designed for residents.

In 2007, there were an estimated 800 short term rentals in San Diego. With the advent of the Airbnb app in 2008 that number increased exponentially – climbing every year. Now, according to the City Auditor, there are over 16,000 STR in San Diego. https://obrag.org/2019/07/city-of-san-diego-is-illegally-providing-free-trash-collection-for-16000-short-term-vacation-rentals/ This estimate is very conservative. And it doesn’t include the hundreds of new residential apartment units, permitted and built as residential dwelling units, converted to short term rentals by corporations – Sonder, Stay Alfred, Barsala, Domio and a raft others. All of this in violation of the law. These are apartment buildings now operating as hotels. albeit without a front desk or room service. https://www.sonder.com/destinations/san_diego/search

Why? Because City officials, including City Attorneys Michael Aguirre and Jan Goldsmith either didn’t understand the law or intentionally chose to mislead other City officials and San Diego residents. (By the way, after leaving office Jan Goldsmith went to work for the San Diego law firm representing Airbnb. In 2018 he appeared before the City Council as Airbnb’s counsel.) This “confusion” reigned until 2017, when City officials were dragged kicking and screaming to the reality of the law – that STR are not a listed use in the SDMC and are therefore prohibited – illegal – everywhere.
Now we are told that rather than enforce the law to keep short term rentals out of our neighborhoods, we – San Diegans – should “compromise” and give up some “small” percentage of our housing stock to accommodate a small group of STR operators, owners (estimated to be 5000) and billion dollar corporations – Airbnb, Expedia and others. This, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, unemployment numbers not seen since the Great Depression, a protracted – decades long – housing shortage and increasing numbers of homeless San Diegans, euphemistically termed the “homelessness problem”.

This “compromise” is nothing more than capitulation – the beginning of the end of any thought that someday, we – San Diegans – might break the stranglehold corporations, big business and a few wealthy individuals have had on our City for – well, forever. Whether Republican or Democrat governing San Diego it’s always been pretty much the same. And this “compromise” is just another example.
In 2016, when Jennifer Campbell was running against Lori Zapf for the District 2 Council seat, she answered Save San Diego Neighborhoods candidate survey.
Q. Is San Diego’s economy suffering because of the homelessness crisis?
A. Yes
Q. Is renting an entire-home as a short term rental legal in your district’s residential zone?
A. No
Q. How many homes in your district would you support being used as entire-home short term rentals?
A. 0
Q. How many nights per year would you support using entire-homes as short-term rentals in your district?
A. 0
Q. Do you support allowing residents to rent the home they live in most of the time as an entire home short-term rental?
A. No

Finally, think about this. And ask yourself, why now? Here’s a hint.
Councilmember Campbell is deeply connected and beholden to the San Diego County Democratic Party, as is City Attorney Mara Elliott and a few other Councilmembers. Jennifer Campbell, Mara Elliott and those Councilmembers have all endorsed Todd Gloria for mayor. Mayoral candidate Barbara Bry has written and said, unequivocally, that she will enforce the Code when she is elected – that she will shut down STR in San Diego neighborhoods. She has made the enforcement of the law and closure of the over 16,000 short term rentals a critical part of her effort to preserve San Diego housing stock for San Diegans, increase available housing for San Diegans and reduce homelessness. It is estimated that San Diego presently needs – is short – 56,000 homes. San Diego needs every square foot of housing space it can find.
And every square foot of residential housing used for short term rental, is that much less space available to a San Diego resident.


Roy McMakin July 4, 2020 at 5:02 pm

“This “compromise” is nothing more than capitulation – the beginning of the end of any thought that someday, we – San Diegans – might break the stranglehold corporations, big business and a few wealthy individuals have had on our City for – well, forever. Whether Republican or Democrat governing San Diego it’s always been pretty much the same. And this “compromise” is just another example.”
this more or less says it all…..


nostalgic July 2, 2020 at 1:51 pm

Where is this HUGE hotel lobby? No opinion? Other cities do it differently. “If you don’t stay there, they don’t stay there!” is advertised as the rule. It is pretty simple. NO, you don’t live in Florida and buy a rental home in North Carolina and rent it out as a short term rental. The timing on this proposal should be its undoing if nothing else.


sloanranger July 7, 2020 at 10:37 pm



sloanranger July 7, 2020 at 10:35 pm

First, ‘vacation rentals.’ then ending height restrictions, next we have ‘development’ and walls on the beaches like Miami and Hawaii and our own San Diego bayfront. Stop it. Just stop it.

The Beginnings

It’s really quite a bother, how they say they have big plans –
and those erstwhile city ‘fathers’, give to retail – public lands.

It seems a dreadful shame, those vistas could be lost,
and the view is not the only thing ‘development’ would cost.

There’s clean air and lovely sunsets, clean water in the bay –
not to mention cool breezes, we need on those hot days.

I’m just a simple person and when I see those lovely views,
I wonder who decides why they … should be for just a few?


John Tarney February 21, 2022 at 9:59 pm

LA passed STR ordinances of the variety Campbell is endorsing – the result has been a total failure in compliance and enforcement:
‘Thousands of online listings are violating L.A.’s new short-term rental law” https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-08-09/los-angeles-short-term-rental-violations


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