“My office has studied comparable cities such as Encinitas, Portland and San Luis Obispo that currently have regulations on short-term vacation rentals,” said Zapf in a memo. “We found that each city managed short-term vacation rentals in a variety of different ways but with some commonalities. All cities required some type of permit.”
Zapf said she and her staff have worked closely with community stakeholders representing both homeowners and vacation rental hosts to “identify a solution that protects the community fabric in single-family residential zones and supports small businesses that are currently in compliance.”
In her memo, Zapf recommends that city staff revise language in the current municipal code to meet the following goals:
n Define the term “short-term vacation rental” in the municipal code;
n Require a renewable permit for the operation of any short-term vacation rental citywide;
n Determine permit fees that are cost recoverable and will be used toward the management and enforcement of the permit;
n Require a posted 24/7 contact with a name and phone number on the property as part of the permit;
n Institute an enforcement process that includes fines and revocation of permit for repeat violators; identify additional funding for the Community-Assisted Party Program (CAPP) to respond to citizen complaints; and
n Require tourist occupancy tax (TOT) collection and payment from short-term vacation rental hosts.
Chris Olson, a longtime member of the Pacific Beach Planning Group, said he “respectfully goes against” Zapf’s proposal.
“I generally agree with her approach to implement a permit system,” Olson said. “But she is completely ignoring the primary issue, destruction of the neighborhood fabric. In coastal communities, long-term residents are being displaced by property management companies renting to weekly tourists all year long.”
Olson said his “neighbors are leaving,” pointing out, within a block of his home, that there are six homes that have recently converted to STVRs.
“They were (once) part of the fabric that held our community together and were displaced for one reason: There is a financial incentive to convert properties to STVRs,” he said, adding, “ $500 a night is cheap if you have 12 to 15 people.”
The STVR policy, said Olson, must address the trend of converting coastal neighborhoods from residential to visitor-commercial.
“Zapf’s proposal does nothing to limit the spread of this displacement,” Olson said. “Soon there will be nobody to volunteer on the PB Planning Group or town council, no kids in our schools, nobody to clean up graffiti or pick up trash and no eyes on the street to assist the police.
“If our leaders allow STVRs to continue proliferating, they better make sure to direct the STVR transient occupancy tax for more police, more trash pick-up, more code enforcement and plan for higher water use and other infrastructure needs to support the change in land use.”
Olson’s sentiment was being echoed by others in the community sharing their views on Nextdoor.com.
Nicole Larson, of Riviera Sail Bay, said the proposed solution for STVRs is to … “make 'em get a permit and post a phone number that will never be answered. Beach communities will turn into vacation rentals.”
“This memo/proposal does not address our issues with vacation rentals; it just talks about noise and permitting, not about the destruction of neighborhoods,” said Scott Gruby of Clairemont, a spokesman for a new grass-roots group, SaveSanDiegoNeighborhoods.org, founded by residents from PB, Clairemont and La Jolla. “The (Zapf) memo mentions ‘quality of life,’ but has no solution to living next to a mini-hotel.”
James Hemmick of south east central PB, offered a counter-perspective on STVRs.
“There is a small but vocal minority group of residents that wants the government to tell you what you can and can't do with your property,” he said. “They have an issue with STVRs and think that because of the problems caused by a few irresponsible owners, all responsible property owners should be banned from renting their homes out as they see fit and in compliance with the ordinances already in effect.
“We are inundated with more and more laws and ever increasing stifling regulations. There is nothing that we need less than more government intrusion. Join me and other responsible, property-rights loving residents in voicing our opposition to banning/stifling STVRs in our amazing community,” Hemmick wrote.