Faulconer vacation rentals voted down —UPDATED

Former city attorney shows up as lobbyist

The first public speaker was Michael Costello of Birdrock, who compared short term vacation rentals to Godzilla. Costello's block went from two vacation rentals in 2008 to eleven in 2018.
  • The first public speaker was Michael Costello of Birdrock, who compared short term vacation rentals to Godzilla. Costello's block went from two vacation rentals in 2008 to eleven in 2018.

The following is a July 17 update of story posted yesterday evening, July 16

The red shirts fought city hall and won.

The red shirts fought city hall and won.

After almost five hours of public testimony, the mayor's proposal was voted down 6-3 with councilmember's Mark Kersey, Chris Cate, and Scott Sherman voting in favor. After the vote, Councilmember Barbara Bry called out former city attorney Jan Goldsmith by asking who he was there representing. Goldsmith told the room he represented "Airbnb and HomeAway."

The green shirts fought to get the mayor's proposal passed.

The green shirts fought to get the mayor's proposal passed.

After some discussion and a recess, Bry's proposal, which left some rules proposed by the mayor intact (fees, a good neighbor policy, registration), was voted on. It passed 6-3, with councilmember's Cate, Sherman and David Alvarez voting against.

Former city attorney turned Airbnb lobbyist, Jan Goldsmith.

Former city attorney turned Airbnb lobbyist, Jan Goldsmith.

Bry's proposal, co-submitted with councilmember Lorie Zapf, allows licenses to be issued to a host's primary residence only. One additional license for another dwelling unit will be allowed as long as it's on the same parcel. Bry cited that primary residence only regulations have made progress in other California cities such as San Francisco, Pasadena, Hermosa Beach, and Santa Monica.

Same parcel units could include apartment buildings where a tenant could feasibly rent an additional unit to rent out as a vacation rental. Though, it's a mystery what landlord would sign off on this.

"The rational basis for primary residence only is that removing existing housing stock from the market negatively effects the already plunging San Diego vacancy rate and exacerbates the housing emergency that this council and councils before us have voted to declare on a monthly basis since 2002," said Bry.

Before the hearing on Monday, Faulconer amended his proposal that allowed unlimited vacation rentals in Mission Beach. After some pressure from the Mission Beach community, the mayor agreed that there should be limits but would allow any rentals registered with the city before July 1, 2018 to be grandfathered in.

Zapf whose district has been hardest hit with vacation rentals (Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach) followed Bry by saying, "This is by no means the ideal solution, however having worked on this for nearly four years, this is as close as we've gotten to getting some relief for the residents living in my beach and bay communities."

She then asked that Faulconer's grandfathering provision for Mission Beach be removed. She requested a one-year review to make any necessary changes and to schedule outreach at that time to the top ten impacted areas (Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, downtown San Diego, La Jolla, Uptown, North Park, Ocean Beach, Point Loma, Clairemont, and Golden Hill).

Councilmember Chris Ward requested that the issue of accessory units (granny flats) come back to the city council to ensure that older units are okay for vacation rentals, but not newer ones that are getting expedited permitting and reduced fees.

Some residents at the hearing said they have been asking for relief for up to eleven years, some having started the conversation with Faulconer when he had Zapf's District 2 seat.

Several residents I spoke with in the days before the vote said Bry's primary residence proposal was the only sane solution but few held out much hope it could pass.

Some expect lawsuits or an Airbnb-funded referendum. Others expect some will find ways to work around the new rules. One University City resident said in Santa Monica, some avoid detection from code compliance by removing their vacation rental ads during the day and putting them back up at night when code enforcement is off-duty. One resident suggested a landlord could force a long-term renter to sign a vacation host document which would evict the tenant for three to six months out of the year.

As far as enforcement, some residents expect they will still be on the frontlines of having to police their own neighborhoods and report illegal vacation rentals and nuisances from legal rentals.

Belinda Smith, co-founder of the Short Term Rental Alliance of San Diego (advocate for vacation rentals), said after the vote, "I see today's vote as a huge win for the hotel lobby and a huge loss for property rights."

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The not-so-strong mayor got pasted today. And it's about time. Oh, this vote will be challenged in court for years, but the clowncil did the right thing. Now the slog in the legal trenches will begin, and undoubtedly enforcement of the new regs will be blocked for months or years. With every passing day, Kev-boy comes across as less relevant in the city. He's touted as having higher-level political ambitions, but in this "deep blue" state, just what are they?

I'd also like to point out to the constituencies of Cate, Sherman and Kersey, that it is time to reexamine why they voted for them. If they're all for Airbnb, and all that stands for, then they should love them. If they want to live calmly and fairly quietly in their 'hoods, then those three should be sent back to private life ASAP.

As Bam said not so long ago, "elections do have consequences", and in SD, those consequences can be extensive (and expensive) indeed.

Hear, hear! Now that they've voted down Kev-boy's complete giveaway, what will they approve? Any milquetoast measure will amount to the same thing, so it's key to keep the pressure on to ensure our representatives represent us.

No matter what is passed the one thing you can count on is that any enforcement of any regulations by the SDPD or the City will be tepid at best. The PD has neither the budget or manpower to police the nightmare of short term rentals. The City cares little about quality of life code enforcement.

Would you please verify your report on the vote? The UT tells us "Scott Sherman, David Alvarez and Chris Cate dissenting." Your article states "Mark Kersey, Chris Cate, and Scott Sherman". David Alvarez?

There were two votes yesterday. The first vote was for the mayor's proposal which Kersey, Cate, and Sherman voted yes on.

The second vote was for Bry's proposal, which to expedite things amended the mayor's proposal on the table, gutting it of some things, keeping a few others. But the most important part that was different was the primary residence only stance which was in direct opposition to the mayor's proposal that would have given licenses to anyone that could find someone to play host.

For this second vote, Cate, Sherman, and Alvarez voted no. Alvarez was the only councilmember to vote against both proposals.

I hope that clears things up.

Thank you. Since Alvarez voted "No" on both, that puts a slightly different light on things for me.

He wasn't comfortable with the nexus report if I recall correctly. He didn't think all the due diligence and numbers were there to vote confidently. I'll check my notes and amend if I have that wrong.

Once again Jan Goldsmith shows the slime ball he is.

The speech he made before he left office makes a bit more sense now it seems.

So, City Council just legalized the potential for for every residence in the city to be rented as a STVR for half the year, where as before it was technically illegal to rent any residence at all as a STVR. That should satisfy the Coastal Commissions desire to provide accommodations. And regarding Belinda Smith's ridiculous and simplistic comment that this is a loss for property rights, would she feel the same way if the City shut down an auto body shop in the house next to her STVR property: a huge loss for property rights? What the City Council did on Monday was in fact expand the legal uses for residential properties, not limit them. But they also respected and understood the value of zoning to support stable and healthy communities.

Technically possible that everyone rents out their home as an STVR, but unlikely. It will be interesting to see if this move opens up any long-term housing stock next year. Though anything near the coast will not be affordable (not much of anything is these days). Though this seems to make it possible for only owners of property to rent out their places for STVR. It's hard to fathom a lot of landlords being okay with their tenants being hosts.

I would say this does nothing to hinder locals from renting out their primary residence or a companion unit if they wish. But what Bry put forth will be more in lines with the sharing economy. Though can someone just say they live in a place for six months and not really have to? How do you prove it's your primary residence? I know landlords that get mail at a house they rent out so they can claim a tax break. If they get a utility bill at the STVR will that be enough to prove it's their primary residence even if it isn't?

I get where some people on the other side are coming from, the person that inherited their parents home in La Jolla and rents it so they can keep it in the family. Or the person that buys a second home in San Diego to vacation at and rents it out to pay the mortgage and maintain it. Or even the local that buys a property and wants to maximize their profits to pay off their mortgage quicker and then want to move into it once it's paid off. But is putting this need for a second vacation home more important than the quality of life for locals?

Though, there are no hard numbers to support what percentage of STVRs are responsible for quality of life issues. Or how many complaints are valid. When I looked over numbers for calls to police, the numbers associated with the homeless were pretty low compared to perception. Some hard numbers would be nice to look at. I would argue the neighborhood drug house or party house wreaks far more havoc than an STVR. But one resident at the hearing made a good point when he said that typical behavior is thrown out the window and can be disconcerting. The flip side of a house being empty for long periods is equally discomforting to neighbors. Especially when so many people are in need of housing.

I get why people are uneasy with them. There are some in my neighborhood and it makes neighborhood watch more difficult as new people are coming in and out of the neighborhood. It would be helpful for those that have them to alert their neighbors when new people will be renting them out so neighbors can have a heads-up.

I also get why people love them, not just the hosts for the money to be made. But for those that use them. I've used them in other cities and it's preferable to a hotel. It just is. But when it's a house or condo, I have to say I've always been cognizant that I have neighbors. Most people probably do. It's a few bad apples maybe?

None of the AirBnB owners in my neighborhood are worried about this win for affordable housing. Nowhere does it say "six consecutive months" for residence that I saw. How do you prove vacancies and residency are two different things? There are too many ways to make this work for business as usual.

GARY WONACOTT, president of the MISSION BEACH TOWN COUNCIL contacted me after publication. He wanted to make an important distinction related to the timeline of the proposal to grandfather vacation rentals in Mission Beach.

Wonacott said that the mayor rejected all nine recommendations made about vacation rentals by the Mission Beach Precise Planning Board, "except that he said he would ask the council to drop the carve out. This was before the Ward announcement which increased the primary only probability. Then [the mayor] went back and decided that [short term vacation rental] owners with [transient occupancy tax documents registered with the city treasurer] should be grandfathered. The sequence of events is important. Grandfathering was never supported by the planning board in the context of the Bry primary only proposal."

Wonacott said the idea was to limit the number of vacation rentals from the mayor’s unlimited number of [vacation rentals] to the 1103 that the city treasurer knew about. "The recommendation is irrelevant in the context of the primary only proposal that was adopted since there was no need to protect Mission Beach under this proposal [Bry's proposal]. I think it is important to clarify this point, since we now have vacation rental companies and others operating under a misconception."

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