On September 22nd, the meeting room at the Municipal Operations Centre in San Diego was packed to the proverbial rafters, as countless city residents gathered in open session alongside the Community Planners Committee (CPC) to discuss the proposed ordinance on Short Term Rentals recently amended by councilwoman Lorie Zapf. Councilwoman Zapf’s amendments were numerous, and as many have contested, one was particularly crippling – a proposed minimum 21 day rental period for all Short Term Vacation Rentals (STVR). This includes online rental companies with which you are all familiar, through AirBnB, VRBO, Trip Advisor and many more. So you see, we as residents and travellers could all be negatively affected if the ordinance as Councilwoman Lorie Zapf has amended it stands.
Numerous San Diego homeowners supporting STVRs who attended this meeting believed they would have the opportunity to share their voice and speak up regarding their concerns with Zapf’s amendments, and these homeowners greatly outnumbered those against STVRs on this particular night. However, in a confusing and disheartening display on the part of the CPC, who listened to every individual wishing to speak opposing STVRs, the majority of those in support of STVRs were left with voices unheard.
Homeowner and STVR supporter Becky Blain Morrison had this to say: “For those of us who rely on short term rentals, September 22 was the first time for us to share our thoughts on the proposed ordinance. It was also our first opportunity to introduce ourselves – the real us – to the Community Planners Committee. We are not corporations. We are not millionaires. We are not renting out our houses and then laughing all the way to the bank. We are San Diegan homeowners from all walks of life, and we came out to this Committee meeting in droves.”
Please understand, we support our communities and do understand and support STVRs registering to pay Transient Occupancy Tax. We also support online registration of all STVR properties as well as greater enforcement of noise and nuisance abatement laws, and the extra staffing it would take to accomplish this. We understand that residents of San Diego want their homes and neighbourhoods to feel safe, secure and comfortable. We feel the same way and so do our visiting guests! But we also want to be clear that we fully support a “Shared San Diego”. And the truth is, our beautiful city can be shared with travellers and local residents, alike! In fact, that sense of sharing the community is what landed my husband and I in San Diego in the first place.
My husband and I have been living in Ocean Beach, San Diego for going on two years now, and have never felt like we belonged to a place, like we were truly ‘home’, until we moved here. We visited San Diego together as travelers and tourists, and fell in love with this jewel of a city. We knew then that San Diego was where we wanted to start a family and begin our life together.
Though there are so many reasons, part of what makes San Diego the city that we fell in love with is its eclecticism, sense of community and its openness. Being here, we have grown to love every neighbour, from the families that have been here for decades, to the new, bright eyed couples who have moved here from abroad. From the homeless man who greets us on our morning walks to the beach, to the young man who works at our favourite bakery. But it isn’t just those neighbours. Our little OB home is hugged by three vacation rentals, and because of this we have met some of the most wonderful people from all over the world. San Diego is home to all of us. And the truth of the matter is that for so many, it took a visit here as a traveler, staying in a vacation rental or crashing in the spare room of a friend of a friend, to make us see how brilliant San Diego truly is. It took being welcomed into the homes of the neighbours that live here to really see the glow, opportunity and community within our city.
As each new traveler is welcomed into a warm, inviting ‘home away from home’ for a short time, those of us who are blessed enough to live here are equally blessed by what they bring to the city in the form of jobs, and generating millions of dollars in revenue for San Diego! Beyond that, though, allowing short term rentals and welcoming tourists and travelers to our community – our home – brings us closer to those from all over the world. We share with each other, we learn from each other, and our city and our neighbours are given the opportunity to meet, befriend, collaborate with, even fall in love with, these travelers that simply wish to experience the brilliance of this place the way that we do…in a way that makes them feel at home.
My example is just one of nearly 100 that went unheard by the CPC last week.
Becky Blain Morrison again shared with us, “At least one Committee member commented that further public discourse was unnecessary because he had been ‘watching the issue for months.’ Another Committee member stated, without reservation or apology, that he had come to a decision on STVR’s before the Committee meeting had even begun. We were disillusioned that the Committee failed to understand that while the issue has been pending for months, this was the first time that the City’s August 12th draft ordinance had been presented for public discussion.”
All of this being said, it is important the public know that vacation rentals only make up about 2.5% of the total homes in San Diego in areas like Pacific Beach and La Jolla and much, much less in other parts of the city. If you, like us, are residents of San Diego or travellers who have experienced or long to experience this beautiful city in a way that feels like ‘home’, please show your support. Take a few short moments to share your thoughts by commenting, sharing this post, and by going to www.sharesandiego.org.
If we want San Diego to continue to welcome Short Term Vacation Rentals, we need to have our voices heard, before it is too late. Before STVRs are banned and our city becomes closed off to travellers wishing to experience San Diego in a whole new light, and shuts its doors to large or extended families wishing to attend weddings and graduations or just get together in a home away from home…share your support. Share your voice. Share San Diego.
The Nancy’s Vacation Rentals Family
If you want to share your voice in front of our elected officials, join us at the next Planning Commission Meeting:
Thursday, October 15th, 2015
City of San Diego Planning Commission
202 C Street, 12th Floor
San Diego, CA 92101
Please arrive at 8am as seating is limited!
Look for our green flags. We look forward to seeing you!