The PBPG is a voluntary group created to make recommendations to the City Council, Planning Commission, city staff and other governmental agencies on land use matters. Short-term vacation rentals are single-family residential dwellings rented out for periods of less than 30 days.
“We’re at a tipping point, and this is going to change what happens in Pacific Beach,” said PBPG member Larry Emlaw. “It's going to drive out families and children and it's going to change our schools, and when that happens we've got Venice Beach.”
Other proponents of the measure complained that the increased noise, traffic, reduced affordable housing stock and drain on public services are ruining the character of the area. They added that the unlicensed and uninspected rentals, which in many cases fail to pay the required transient occupancy tax (TOT) and tourism marketing district assessment (TMD), have an unfair advantage over licensed establishments.
Those opposed to restricting short-term vacation rentals countered that it’s a small group of irresponsible owners who are ruining it for the rest. Several speakers pointed out that vacationers help generate money for the community, support neighborhood businesses, provide income for homeowners and investors and boost real estate prices.
After 90 minutes of public comments, the PBPG voted to ask the City Council to modify the San Diego Municipal Code so that homes used for short-term rentals require a conditional use permit, which allows a municipality to control certain uses of property that is not allowed under existing zoning ordinances.
Furthermore, the planning group wants to restrict the rental of single-family homes in RS (residential – single unit) zones for less than 30 days, with a 60-day maximum per year for owners who live in their dwelling and declare it as their primary residence.
The group is also asking that noise and disturbance violations be reported to the police investigative service officer within 30 minutes. That person will then place a call to the property owner or their agent and alert them that a complaint has been made.
Following that, another call will be placed within 30 minutes to the complainant by the PISO to explain what was done. If the noise and disturbance continues, the PISO will dispatch an officer on the highest priority basis possible.
Police officer Jerry Hara, of the San Diego Police Department Northern Division, attended the meeting as a spectator. He said that there are policies and procedures in place for dealing with noise complaints but that the main priority is community safety and curbing violent crime.
“We've got to take care of that first and foremost, and we do get to the noise calls eventually. Whenever there is a burglary in progress or a shooting and stabbing, we have to send officers there first,” said Hara.
“There is a priority system, and that's why you sense frustration from the community. When they call the police for a noise complaint, we are able to get to them. It's just a matter of when.”
PBPG member Baylor Triplett said that he could not support a blanket ban on vacation rentals in an RS zone. He further stated that there are a lot of exceptions for why it is good to rent out in certain cases.
“I agree that something should be done about people who make too much noise,” Triplett said. “I have trouble voting for anything that restricts people’s freedoms, and in this case, we are restricting what somebody can do with their own property.”
Andrew Melton, a resident of Pacific Beach for the past six years, said that a more appropriate thing to discuss is how to dissuade the bad apples that ruin things for the rest, instead of cutting out all of the apples.
“If you ask most of the people who are opposed to short-term rentals whether or not they want real estate prices to go down in their neighborhood, local establishments losing business and neighbors losing retirement income – they would say no,” Melton said. “There are all of these people that have been here for years, and they want to keep things as they were, but there is no going backwards.”
John Gregory, a Pacific Beach resident since 1974, said that this issue can become a real battle. He added that many people have chosen to leave the area, because of what has been going on.
“I think a lot of people are against it, including most of the board members,” Gregory said. “My understanding when I moved here over 30 years ago was that RS is a single family residence and that’s the way it should be. They shouldn’t be renting out houses.”
More information on the Pacific Beach Planning Group can be found at www.pbplanning.org.