On Tuesday, Sept. 8, Save San Diego Neighborhoods’ attorneys delivered a letter with the notice and request for a formal reply from Robert Vacchi, director of the San Diego Development Services Department.
The letter advises city officials that changing the city’s municipal code to allow short-term vacation rentals (STVR) to operate in San Diego’s residential zones represents a “fundamental change” to the municipal code. Save San Diego neighborhoods also asserts that to allow STVR into residential zones violates the city’s general plan and adversely effects all ten elements of the plan, in particular, noise, housing and services and safety.
“The eventual adoption of an ordinance expressly allowing STVRs in single family residential zones will have multiple, foreseeable, direct and indirect physical impacts upon the environment and constitutes a non-exempt ‘project’ under CEQA,” the letter states.
Save San Diego Neighborhoods further contends that complying with CEQA and working through the environmental impact report (EIR) process will inform the discussion regarding the appropriateness of allowing STVR to operate in San Diego residential neighborhoods.
Save San Diego Neighborhoods believes that the results of an EIR will not support the imposition of a new ordinance permitting STVR in residential zones in San Diego. On the contrary, the EIR will identify significant impacts that the city will be unable to mitigate, including depleting housing stock, noise pollution, air pollution, traffic congestion, and additional and unmanageable stress on City services, in particular first responders – fire and law enforcement – water, trash, and parks and recreation personnel and facilities.
The Save San Diego Neighborhoods CEQA letter was served this week because the city is moving forward on a draft ordinance that would make short-term vacation rentals in residential zones lawful. Although the proposed draft ordinance may be modified in the coming weeks, the existing draft permits absentee-owned, commercial, mini-hotels to operate in San Diego residential neighborhoods.
Residents of San Diego and members of the San Diego community planning groups have voiced strong opposition to STVR, demanding the city enforce the municipal code and remove these mini-hotels from neighborhoods.
Earlier this year, the Pacific Beach Planning Group unanimously passed and sent to the City Council a resolution asking the City Council to enforce the municipal code and reiterate that STVR mini-hotels are unlawful in single-family zones.
The problem of STVR in residential zones continues unabated. Airbnb, one of dozens of online vacation rental companies, has more than 3,500 vacation rentals in the city. Of those, 65 percent – 2,283 rentals – are whole-house, absentee-owner mini-hotels located throughout San Diego’s residential neighborhoods.
Hundreds of San Diego residents packed two City Council meetings this spring to complain about the proliferation of vacation rentals and the negative impacts they create, saying, “We are the neighbors, and we’re telling you there is a problem.”
Save San Diego Neighborhoods was formed in the wake of STVR. Hundreds of citizens have joined the group via savesandiegoneighborhoods.org. Save San Diego Neighborhoods is now conducting an online petition whose early results show citizens unanimously support enforcing the city’s current municipal code to ban STVR mini-hotels and taking legal action against the city, if needed.
More information is available at www.savesandiegoneighborhoods.org, or by emailing