OB Planning Leader Speaks Out Against City’s Enforcement Plan for New Vacation Rental Rules – Plus Over 50 Mission Beach Hosts May Have Committed Fraud

by on May 3, 2023 · 5 comments

in Ocean Beach

During a 90-minute STRO Zoom community briefing on April 27 by the City’s Development Services Department Code Enforcement Division on their plans to enforce regulations of the City’s new Short-Term Residential Ordinance which took effect May 1, not all went well.

Also, not all is going well with Mission Beach short-term rental hosts, as it turns out over 50 may have lied on their license applications (see below).

The Zoom presentation was met with criticism from beach community leaders, including from Kevin Hastings, vice-chair of the OB Planing Board. Hastings said he agreed with criticism of the new ordinance’s shortcomings from the other beach leaders. Hastings said:

 “The tools to be made available to residents are encouraging, and give transparency on the STR licenses for once. But the City’s enforcement plan is dead on arrival. This seemed to be the consensus of everyone in attendance, except city staff.”

“The new STR enforcement staff will go home at 11 p.m., and have no staff at all on Monday and Tuesday.  And even when staffed, they are going to rely on SDPD to respond to loud parties and rely on code enforcement for illegal unit complaints.

We already know those two mechanisms do not work. SDPD does not prioritize nuisance complaints and cannot respond in a timely manner. And code enforcement can take 6-12 months to address illegal construction. These failures were precisely the reasons for needing dedicated STR staff.”

He concluded:

“The City is handcuffing themselves right out of the gate. Unless they restructure their enforcement strategy, it will be very difficult for them to confirm the biggest violations and hold irresponsible hosts and guests accountable. But at least they’ll be effective at making sure the font size on the signage is correct.”

Norma Medina, program manager for the City’s new STRO Enforcement Program, made the presentation, as reported by the Beacon. Medina laid out the city’s enforcement plans and declared:

“They (STR operators) understand that the party is over and that there are consequences for not following the rules, that their license, and the renewal of that license, is at stake.”

“We’re going to be working very collaboratively with the City Attorney’s Office. We’ll have a four-member investigation team starting on May 1, in addition to the City Attorney team, which will be providing support.”

According to Medina, the initial schedule for enforcement teams implementing the STRO will be:

  • Wednesdays through Sundays from 1:30-11 p.m.,
  • with administrative support working Mondays through Fridays from 7 a.m.-4:30 p.m.


“The STRO team will reply to complaints with our own STR protocol in the Get It Done (City app), to make sure this is user-friendly. The City is committed to working collaboratively with members of the community and the short-term rental industry. Our primary goal is always to achieve voluntary compliance.”

According to the Beacon:

Medina said the STRO has 24 different possible code violations, which enforcement teams will be focusing on in evaluating licensed short-term rentals in legal, safe, and sanitary dwellings with proper permitting and no code violations.

There will also be an all-hours local contact designated who will be the first point of contact for anyone wishing to register an STRO violation complaint. “One of the most important ones (enforcement regulations) is whether the local contact is being responsive and actively taking action to resolve matters dealing with parking, trash, noise, and disturbances,” Medina said adding, “When the case (complaint) is closed, there will be a notification sent to the complainant telling them what the result was.”

Medina added the City will be sharing information with the San Diego Police Department, which she said will be “citing some of the nuisance properties” under the STRO. She added the complaint process will be “local contact first, then Get It Done (City app) and after 10 p.m., it will be the San Diego Police.”

Over 50 STVR Hosts May Have Lied on Their License Applications

The U-T reported yesterday, May 2 that, “Several dozen vacation rental hosts who were able to snag a coveted license for their Mission Beach homes could face losing those licenses for failing to provide truthful information to the City Treasurer’s office.”

In a story just for subscribers, Lori Weisberg reported:

Nearly 1,100 licenses were doled out to vacation rental hosts in a lottery late last year because demand among Mission Beach operators exceeded a city-mandated cap for whole-home rentals in the popular beach community. Those participating in the random selection were awarded extra points based in part on the volume of booking activity they had in the last few years and the length of time they had been paying transient occupancy taxes to the city.

 It turns out, though, that some of the lottery participants misstated information that would help give them a higher probability of securing a license.

As a result, some 52 Mission Beach hosts could be facing revocation of their licenses just as enforcement gets underway this week of long-awaited regulations governing home sharing that is widely advertised on online platforms like Airbnb and VRBO. …

The misinformation relates specifically to answers that license applicants provided to questions concerning their rental booking activity and payment of room taxes, two categories that can give lottery participants priority over others. For instance, hosts who have paid TOT taxes for five calendar years or more are awarded three extra “priority” points in the lottery process.

According to the Treasurer’s office, some of the applicants stated that they had five years where they logged at least 90 days of booking activity per year, but the support provided showed less than that for one or more years. Similarly, many of them claimed they had paid transient occupancy taxes for five years but documentation showed less than that.

The City Treasurer’s office explained that after reviewing the licenses that had been granted, it identified a number of them that did not include documentation to “substantiate the responses on their application related to booking activity and TOT payment history as required. Hosts that failed to provide support through follow-up by our office were issued a regulatory action letter.”


{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Debbie May 3, 2023 at 11:27 am

Why was there not a thorough investigation BEFORE a licensed was granted? A license with lies should be revoked.

Also, there is no easy way to look up an address to see if it is licensed or not. You have to download a list and search through it https://data.sandiego.gov/datasets/stro-licenses/ There should be a way to input an address and get a result …. like looking up an alcohol license.


Jon May 3, 2023 at 2:36 pm

The downloadable excel file is actually pretty easy to search and quite a wealth of data (if you’re looking for a specific address, try Ctrl F and search).

For example we can see of the 7,187 licenses in the City, 92107 is the second most abused zip code with 743 active licenses (imagine having 743 extra homes for local OBceans). Of those, 110 appear to be Mills properties. Weren’t they the infamous slum lords of OB? I guess they’ve booted out 110 residents (so far) and are in the vacation slum business now. Also 64 ‘contacts’ (owners or property mgmt co’s) are responsible for more than 1 vacation rental. 6 of those own more than 10.

I think it’s important to have this data. Although I’m certain it’s incomplete, it shows what a lot of local residents have been fearing for years. The hollowing out of entire blocks of the neighborhood while the City could have cared less.


Debbie May 3, 2023 at 3:46 pm

TX, I know how to search. But should not have to. Looking forward to mapping and data input.


kh May 3, 2023 at 2:57 pm

The city says they will have a website with the STROs mapped out going live soon. This should be more informative for neighbors wanting to check on a license or find contact info.


Linda May 3, 2023 at 5:34 pm

It’s a joke! The city has destroyed one of the few beach communities left in California. My family has owned property since the 20’s and I am lucky enough to live at the beach. I’m surrounded by empty units, 4 full time residents on the Ct., as fellow San Diegans are sleeping on the streets.
They’ve screwed up my neighborhood…watch out they are coming to destroy yours!
STRVs are illegal…residential property is for residents…not profit.


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