Campbell’s Chief of Staff: City Not Responsible for Ocean Beach Tenants Displaced by Short-Term Rentals, Problems With Ordinance Won’t Be Fixed for Years

by on July 12, 2023 · 17 comments

in Ocean Beach

2022 map of STVRs

There’s a great article in the most recent Point Loma-OB Monthly by Tyler Faurot which encapsulates the recent problems and issues identified with the new short-term rental ordinance, including the scandalous ability of slumlord Michael Mills to acquire more than 100 short-term rental licenses. [Faurot was able to get it published just as it was announced the PL-OB Monthly was sold to the hedge fund.]

Faurot focused not only on Mills but also on complaints by Ocean Beach leaders about threats to the community’s housing stock and even the vitality of the community by short-term rentals.

As many of us know, San Diego’s short-term rental ordinance was authored largely by City Councilwoman Jennifer Campbell with assistance from her chief of staff, Venus Molina. And when Faurot interviewed her, Molina had quite a mouthful to say.

In response to questions about the Mills’ situation and about his tenants being evicted to make way for short-term rentals, Molina said the city bears no responsibility for people being displaced from their homes to make way for short-term rentals. She told Faurot:

“When people call and say they were displaced from their homes because it’s being converted into a short-term vacation rental, that is a private matter. If you want to change your house and rent it long-term, or if you want to make it a short-term rental, that’s your prerogative. … That is between you and your tenants. That is something we are not involved with.” [Our emphasis.]

When Faurot questioned Molina on requests by the OB Town Council’s advocacy committee for the city to limit Tier 3 licenses by neighborhood and that the ordinance be amended so licenses are limited to a percentage of the units at one property, Molina responded by saying the city does not intend to rewrite the ordinance at this time, pointing to the bureaucratic process it would need to go through again. She said:

“If we change the ordinance, it has to come back to [the City] Council and it has to go back to the [California] Coastal Commission for approval. It would take another two to three years.”

Molina said officials need to “let the dust settle” before making adjustments to the law, plus:

“People have been waiting for an ordinance like this for 15 years. I’ve always said this ordinance is not perfect. … We just need to let this work itself through. … We want to see what else comes up.”

Faurot also quoted OB leaders on the problems and consequences of the short-term rental quagmire.

Andrea Schlageter, chairwoman of the OB Planning Board, said problems have arisen since the council first passed the ordinance in February 2021. She said:

“When we were going through this, we were specifically told by the powers that be that this would reduce the numbers of short-term rentals. The mayor looked me dead in the eye and said this would reduce the numbers, but it’s allowed people to enter the market that had no interest before.”

And Tracy Dezenzo, chairwoman of the Ocean Beach Town Council’s advocacy committee and treasurer of the OB Planning Board, commented:

“Michael Mills is not the only property owner doing this, but it is the most egregious example in Ocean Beach.”

In a letter to Mayor Todd Gloria and all members of the City Council in February 2021, the OB Planning Board recommended license caps for individual neighborhoods rather than general areas. Dezenso stated:

“The way [Campbell] wrote it, she said that if 100 percent of the license requests come from Ocean Beach, 100 percent of licenses would go to Ocean Beach. What we were trying to push for was a limit by community planning area. We knew most of the requests for licenses would be coming from beach communities.”

Schlageter said there is a significant impact on the community by short-term rentals.

“I continue to hear people say that this impacts only a negligible amount of housing in San Diego, [but] I think anyone who has been kicked out of their house by Michael Mills would disagree with you.” …

“600 fewer units [in Ocean Beach] is not negligible. It affects people’s very life and the way they live day to day if they are housing-insecure. Even the removal of just one unit of housing is not negligible.”

Andrea also hit upon a theme the Rag has enunciated for years, as Faurot reported:

Schlageter said the fallout from the [STVR] situation threatens the vitality of the community.

“If there are no more residents in Ocean Beach, there is no more OB Christmas Holiday Parade, there is no more street fair, there is no more Oktoberfest or St. Patrick’s Day, because they’re run by volunteers in the neighborhood who are trying to keep their neighborhood alive,” Schlageter said. “If we continue to allow the tourism industry … to hollow out and take over San Diego, the things that make it attractive will no longer exist. It only exists with people in their neighborhood that love it and want to make it the best.”

Faurot also reported on the deal involving an uninhabited apartment complex in OB on Abbott, owned by the OB CDC.

A deal is in motion for Wakeland and the city of San Diego to buy a 13-unit apartment building at 2147 Abbott St. in Ocean Beach from the OB Community Development Corp., or CDC, to use as housing with supportive services for homeless people.

The property, appraised at about $4.5 million, has been owned by the CDC since 1997 and is zoned for low-income housing. It has been vacant since January 2022.

“It’s kind of a win-win for the community because it will provide much-needed low-income housing,” said Mark Winkie, president of the Ocean Beach CDC. “If you know anything about Ocean Beach and Point Loma, there is hardly any low-income housing at all in our community. Also, the revenue generated by the sale will go back to the CDC, which we can use for a lot of the community enhancement and development initiatives we have on our list.”

Among those are redevelopment of Veterans Plaza and installing a playground and fitness area at Saratoga Park.

Here’s more of the report:

Campbell’s chief of staff, Venus Molina, said such amassing of licenses was addressed through administrative regulation. The city treasurer’s office, which awards and regulates STVR licenses, sent notices to the people whose names were listed on license applications requiring additional notarization and proof of compliance training.

“When we wrote the ordinance, we left kind of like a piece to say ‘OK, this is the bones, and all of the meat will be done through administrative regulations,’” Molina said. “We’re working with the city attorney’s office and the city treasurer’s office to figure out how to prevent something like this from happening and what we can do to mitigate things that we didn’t anticipate.”

The ordinance groups short-term rentals into a four-tier licensing system:

  • Tier 1: Home-share (a room or rooms) or whole-home rentals totaling 20 days or less per year
  • Tier 2: Home-share rentals totaling more than 20 days per year
  • Tier 3: Whole-home rentals totaling more than 20 days per year
  • Tier 4: Special tier for Mission Beach, which allows whole-home short-term rentals in a manner consistent with recommendations from the Mission Beach Town Council

Whole-home rentals for more than 20 days out of the year are capped at 1 percent of the city’s more than 540,000 housing units, or about 5,400. However, in Mission Beach, which has a long history of vacation rentals that predates the rise of online home-sharing platforms, the cap is 30 percent of the community’s total dwelling units, or nearly 1,100. …

As of June 28, more than 5,100 licenses had been issued across San Diego for the short-term rental of entire homes where the owner or permanent resident does not live onsite. Ocean Beach had 497 whole-home licenses, plus 103 of other types of STVR licenses, for a total of 600. Only Mission Beach, Pacific Beach and La Jolla had more whole-home and overall licenses.

For perspective, Ocean Beach has fewer than 200 hotel rooms.


{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Sam July 12, 2023 at 1:47 pm

The thing that is so infuriating about all of this is that zoning laws existed for a reason, from which entire industries were built. Now Silicon Valley comes up with a way to circumvent those laws, thus flipping the original intent of the laws on their respective heads, and nobody has done an f***ing thing about it. Turning neighborhoods into motels and motels into homeless shelters. It’s an absolute travesty.

I hope Campbell and Molina are tormented by this for the rest of their lives. The explosion of the homeless crisis in San Diego is a direct result of their actions. Shame on them both.


Geoff Page July 12, 2023 at 3:35 pm

You need a conscience in order to be tormented.


Nicole Sours Larson July 15, 2023 at 2:13 pm

Agreed. Campbell has none.


Tessa July 13, 2023 at 7:06 am

I’ve got friends who’ve lost their long term rentals in OB looking for somewhere else to luve in town. They say there’s next-to- nothing. It’s all short term. These are citizens of OB, members of our community. Who in our city government cares about them?


Gary Wonacott July 13, 2023 at 9:11 am

In the 1920 and on, properties were purchased near the coast in LJ, PB, MB, and OB as vacation villas, only used during the summer months. Mission Beach in particular was something of a slum area. Over time, as Spreckles began developing the area, the quality of the structures improved in all of the Beach communities, probably more so in La Jolla. In the 50’s, 60’s and 70’, the nature of the community evolved so that those properties, almost all on the ocean and bay boardwalks became summer winter rentals. There was little change to the nature of the situation in the beach communities until 2,000 when computer bookings came on line increasing the number of summer winter rentals, but the real explosion did not happen until around 2010, a couple of year after AirBnB was founded. In Mission Beach, the number of illegal STRs increased from around 600 to almost 2,000 in 2017.


sealintheSelkirks July 13, 2023 at 9:37 am

Maybe it’s time to THINK OUT OF THE BOX? The wealthy sociopaths are NOT going to change their greed levels and Capitalism has gone completely out of control in the US. Time to rein it in!

The old mantra of ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ certainly does NOT apply here because, OBVIOUSLY, it’s f&&king broke!

So here’s a solution in Berlin Germany that was just won by voting! Can you imagine it happening in San Diego?



Gary Wonacott July 13, 2023 at 10:36 am

There is a comment that the number of STR licenses in Mission Beach is consistent with the Mission Beach Town Council. First, let me say that Mission Beach residents have a very myopic view and therefore parochial attitude, that is, they don’t see too well outside of the boundary of the community. Second, the Mission Beach Precise Planning Board is the legal advisory group to the City. They opposed a carve out or different treatment of Mission Beach from other communities. But, Campbell and Molina ignored them and sought out input from the town council. I was president in 2018. At that time the community supported the more restrictive primary only rules lead by Zapf and Bry, but that all changed in 2019. The town council was packed by greedy, and I emphasize money obsessed STR members. There was an attempt by one member to submit 16 membership applications using hosts. This is the group that recommended the 30 percent, not the residents. Since 2018, the STR industry people have done everything they can to undermine my credibility, including much lying and even physical assault. The so called Campbell plan is no more than Faulconer’s plan in sheep’s shit. The negotiations by Expedia and Bridgette from the hotel workers union was a ruse. Last point, there is no other community in California that has been hammered and then sacrificed like Mission Beach.


Gary Wonacott July 13, 2023 at 10:52 am

The revelations from the OB Planning Board and Town Council about the abusive use of hosts represents a crack in Ms. Molina’s door, and make no mistake, Ms. Molina takes full ownership of this now exposed ordinance. Similar to Faulconer’s plan, the owner can have as many licenses as needed; the only difference is that the owner must identify a real or fake host in the Molina plan. And like the Faulconer plan, there is no limit on the number of fake hosts. Allowing renters to be hosts to avoid discrimination is right out of the Trump playbook. There should be one STR license per owner, and one owner per single family property and or multifamily property. No spouse, no kids and no surrogate hosts. The town councils and planning boards need to coalesce into a unified position and move on the whole City Council.


Twh July 13, 2023 at 3:46 pm

So…the Dr. spends years passing a law to stop unwanted vendors at the beach. And the law she wrote doesn’t work. She then spends her time writing a law to make STR’s laws resonable. And once again that doesn’t work.
Why is she in office?


Geoff Page July 13, 2023 at 4:28 pm

She isn’t in office, Venus Molina is.


lyle July 14, 2023 at 8:55 am

Are you sure Campbell wrote those laws ? In some cases laws (at least the first draft) are written by lobbyists, and then pushed through to passage by the politician (who is getting contributions from the lobbyists).

She’s in office simply because the people voted for her (and Gloria) in spite of the fact we had alternatives who were clearly in favor of controlling the growth of STVR’s.


Twh July 14, 2023 at 4:37 pm

From Times of San Diego, Nov 22

Campbell has in recent months won approval to regulate and reduce the number of short-term vacation rentals with the intent of freeing up hundreds of residences for the strained housing market in San Diego.

Additionally, she successfully pushed for regulations on sidewalk and pushcart vendors. She is one of the leading forces behind Measure C, which seeks to remove the coastal 30-foot height limit in the Midway area to allow for a stadium and affordable housing project there.


Paul Webb July 14, 2023 at 8:04 am

My reading of the ordinance says that hosts must hold actual leases for
the property, not random friends or family members, neighbors, etc. Does anybody know if there are, in fact, valid leases in place for these properties?


Tessa July 14, 2023 at 8:59 am

Has anyone gotten any clear response from Campbell’s office as to how and when this loophole will be closed?
All I know – as a long term renter – is that there’s hardly anywhere longterm to rent in O B that’s anywhere affordable. Fine if you own your own home, but some of us don’t have a million plus to spend on a dwelling.


Gary Wonacott July 14, 2023 at 9:16 am

This ordinance will only change when the current councilmembers see a political advantage to do so, or at least feel politically threatened not to do so. The OB example has opened the door, slightly, but it will close again if there is not a widespread outcry focusing on Molina and Campbell’s incompetence. And, don’t forget Elyse Lowe, Gloria’s head of Development Services. She wrote the first ordinance for Faulconer and was then given a major promotion.


Tessa July 14, 2023 at 4:53 pm

So what does it take?
Public shaming doesn’t seem to help.
Bad media doesn’t put a dent.
Maybe if bribes were discovered?
Other than that, I guess the next round will be to try to vote them out of office – but who knows what other wolf in sheep’s clothing will come along…


Frank Gormlie July 15, 2023 at 11:08 am

I wrote this in a Sept. 2015 post:

However, on top of housing shortages, the even more drastic consequence of loss of community occurs when there are so many residential units within a neighborhood that have been turned into short-term units, that a goodly-sized chunk of the area has morphed into a resort candyland of beach, surf and sand. There are no longer any actual residents in the immediate neighborhood, and every unit is utilized as a vacation rental – every condo, every McMansion, every apartment, every little cottage – no longer are the houses of residents – the human make-up of a community – but of visitors.

Without actual residents then, that portion of the neighborhood as “a community” collapses into a mishmash of rental and property managers, online rentals, private trash and private security details. … If there’s no one left to care about the community or that section of it, then there is no community. …

The loss of community for Ocean Beach is one of the chief threats from this so-called “sharing economy”. If significant sections of OB are no longer available for residents, then there are no longer residents available for OB.

As a woman who was complaining about short-term rentals said at the recent OB Town Council meeting, said: “Rather than a good vacationer next to me, I’d rather have a neighbor.”

OBceans need to be vigilante on this issue. It isn’t over yet. Along with gentrification, short-term vacation rentals have the ability to undermine parts of the community, change the character of the neighborhood for the worse and turn a vibrant village into a beach resort for vacationers.


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