Reader Rant: ‘Jen Campbell’s Colossal Blunder’

by on December 19, 2022 · 6 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Gary Wonacott

In 2018, a a few days before there was to be a vote on then Mayor Faulconer’s proposed short-term rental regulations, I met with then Councilmember Chris Ward.  In the meeting, I expressed concerns about the mayor’s proposed approach resulting in a huge wave of STRs in Mission Beach, but Councilmember Ward said that he was more concerned that there may not be a sufficient number of applications to pay for enforcement, and without enforcement, the program was doomed.

And here we are again. After being assured by Councilmember Jen Campbell and her staff going back to the Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU), we find that once again Councilmember Ward’s prediction has come true.  There are too few applications to ensure that the program can fund a strong enforcement plan.

Certainly, the reduced funding will not support the sixteen Code Enforcement Officers promised by Councilmember Campbell that would enforce both unlicensed and nuisance STRs.

Councilmember Campbell missed what was probably the most important and effective enforcement approach available that would address the many unlicensed STRs at one time instead of one at a time.  Incorporate language into the ordinance that penalizes any platform that contracts with an unlicensed STR operator.  This has been proven to be effective in many large cities.

There is another issue that needs to be addressed.

Residents of Mission Beach raised the issue and Councilmember Campbell’s staff have acknowledged the fact that the 2020 census data should be used to quantify the number of STR licenses.  There has already been much burden put on the residents of Mission Beach.

As it stands, the density of STRs in Mission Beach will be 34 percent, not 30 percent as the ordinance states.  Between 2010 and 2020, there has been a decrease of almost 25 percent in the population of our community.  Can you imagine decreasing by 25 percent one of your communities?  The number of STR licenses needs to be realigned to the 2020 census.  We believe this can be done administratively with your help.

The above is taken from a letter to City Council members by the author, dated Dec. 17, 2022. Gary Wonacott is a resident of Mission Beach

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

OB Toby December 19, 2022 at 11:43 am

Council member Campbell never fails to disappoint. She’s in the pocket of developers, conducts incomplete shoddy research without regard to the outcomes of the so-called regulations she promotes. And most importantly, ignores the beach community she’s supposed to represent. She is one of the worst council members for the beach community. She has lied about STVR’s and promoted the measure to remove 30 foot height limit. Get ready for her new term of selling out her constituents.


DrTom December 19, 2022 at 4:45 pm

Impeach Jen Campbell, immediately !!!


Pete R December 23, 2022 at 3:33 pm

Based on years of columns in these pages, I thought the ultimate goal of the OB Rag and many of its writers was to reduce/eliminate the number of STVRs in our beach communities. These initial numbers showing low demand for STVR permits would seem to indicate progress toward that goal.

Yet now, you’re upset that there haven’t been MORE applications for STVR permits in our community?

Maybe take a step back and reassess.


kh December 24, 2022 at 12:11 pm

There are more licenses available than current full time STRs. This is not something to be celebrated. It means the existing hosts will be granted licenses, and with confidence they can invest in converting even more homes into hotels. Jen negotiated license numbers with the platforms completely ignorant of how many we had already. And they played her and convinced her they were conceding some numbers.

Nobody is closing down their $70K+ per year revenue stream over a $1000 permit cost.


Glenn G. Millar December 23, 2022 at 6:51 pm

Addressing Pete R and anyone reading.

The problem with two few applications, is a combination of two things. First, the lack of applications does not indicate a lack of STVR’s. Based on the current number of STVR’s listing on AirBnB, it most likely indicates that the majority of the people operating STVR’s did not apply for a permit.

However, the budget for enforcement is based on the revenues from the licensing fees. Less fees means less money for enforcement. Yet, if the majority of STVR’s don’t have licenses, there won’t be enough enforcement staff to penalize those people without permits. Penalizing the platforms would be a much easier step, but they managed to negotiate with Jen Campbell to ensure that tool was not included in the law, as many other cities have done.


kh December 24, 2022 at 12:18 pm

There were about 6,000 full time STRs prior to the pandemic that meet tier 3/4 criteria. This is per actual booking data and TOT revenue.

There is no mysterious glut of unlicensed STRs out there. I expect some % didn’t get the memo, and the city is trying more outreach.

So whatever amount of STRs are on your block, expect it to increase going forward. Some blocks in NW ob, 1/3 of the homes are STRs. These uses to be the most affordable units in the neighborhood.


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