Tomorrow, December 3, 2020, the San Diego Planning Commission will consider a proposal to greatly reduce and regulate the short-term rental industry in the city. This item will likely move to the City Council for consideration in 2021.
You can add a comment or sign up to give live testimony via the Planning Commission website. Below is my short comment, opposing the MOU and supporting the many thousands of hosts in the City of San Diego.
This amendment / action would reduce the number of short term rentals in San Diego by approx. 65% and harm thousands of property owners during a period of economic turmoil. I urge the Planning Commission to oppose this amendment / action.
I agree with requiring a license number for each unit rented on a short-term basis, and requiring the posting of this license number on any online platform. I also agree with enhanced enforcement of noise and other nuisance laws, including an escalating fine scale for repeat offenders.
Short-term rentals are immensely popular (and have proven to be more resilient than hotels and other accommodations in the current Covid climate). I hope the Planning Commission will embrace short-term rentals and support this long established opportunity for San Diegans for the years to come by opposing this item. Thank you.
The Laguna Mountains lie about 45 miles straight east of Downtown San Diego. Reaching a maximum height of 6,378 feet they have a very different climate from the nearby beaches that San Diego is better known for. The many campgrounds in the Lagunas are our favorite places to camp near our home.
This week I took our older kids and some friends for a morning hike at the Wooded Hill trail in the Lagunas. It had rained a bit in San Diego over the weekend but we didn’t expect a snow covered scene when we reached the higher altitudes. It was a gorgeous morning, about 50 degrees, and with both evergreen trees and some oaks starting to change to fall colors.
We walked about 2 miles in 2 hours, taking time to throw snowballs, climb boulders, and enjoy the sunshine at the summit of the trail. (Strava recording in images below with more details along with some scenery photos.)
On the return journey to San Diego, about 50 minutes total drive time each way, we stopped at the absolutely fabulous Grand Ole BBQ y Asada in Flinn Springs (the Eastern edge of El Cajon). With current Covid restrictions the lawn games weren’t available but it was wonderful to sit in the 70 degree sun with a light breeze and enjoy the best barbeque in San Diego County. If visiting San Diego or live here, highly recommend a trip and the brisket or beef ribs.
San Diego has great beaches and wonderfully temperate weather for which it is mostly, and rightfully, known. The broader area has a wide variety of plants and land forms to explore and many like Mount Laguna deserve more love.
Germs are sort of like bacteria. Germs can be good and bad. Good germs fight bad germs and bad germs like virus, cold, and flu germs fight good germs. There is a five second rule – if you drop a piece of food on the ground for more than five seconds you should not eat it. If less than 5 seconds if you want you can eat it. The sponge we used to clean our dishes had millions of germs on it every time you use it to clean plates the germs from the plate get on the sponge. To avoid that throw away the sponge every week/few days and use a different one for the next week/few days.
Germs spread by touching other people for a long time (more than five seconds). Fist bumps and high fives are okay, but you should do a fist bump instead of high five. They don’t spread as many germs as touching some one. You can have family rules to keep your family safe from most bad germs.
Dozens of people throughout San Diego had their lifestyle influenced by the coronavirus, a sickness that is leaving destruction in its wake at it moves rapidly around the world. People are going into chaos when the coronavirus hits their country, state, city, or community. New rules are popping up all over countries to keep people safe. The coronavirus epidemic is becoming a world wide struggle. New things that are happening, such as the closing of shops, are going on because people don’t need the things inside the shop, plus when people gather, like to shop or play, germs get on to other people, causing them to become sick. The coronavirus is a contagious disease, which means that if someone else gets the germ that person will get the same sickness. Therefore, shops are closing. Rules such as only ten people in the supermarket at a time are being made world wide to prevent the spreading of germs. Supermarkets are pretty much the only kind of stores open nowadays. Schools have been closed so me and my brother Ambrose have been doing home school to keep up on our learning progress. I can tell you that these changes have been affecting people I know, such as my classmates, teacher (Mrs. Bobier), and my around the block friend Sophie have all had to make many changes in order to adjust to this new lifestyle. Public parks (or at least their parking lots) have been closing due to these changes.
My morning routine has changed as well. Instead of going to school in the morning me and my dad have been teaching Ambrose to ride his bike and we’ve been going on rides throughout San Diego (although he complains about hills a lot). Today we rode to South Park and back. My dad spray painted Ambrose’s bike red and black. I have heard that in Italy people are not allowed to leave their house except to get food. My family bikes every morning to get fresh air and exercise because those two things are very important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which is important to have due to circumstances beyond our control – the coronavirus.
Although North Park’s “Busy Corner” lies a block north, the intersection of North Park Way and 30th Street is a popular crossing for pedestrians in the neighborhood. In the heart of North Park, this intersection hosts Waypoint Public, Pigment, the North Park Parking Garage, and North Park Family Dentistry with many more businesses and residences nearby. It is also an intersection that needs improvement to increase safety and convenience for residents and visitors to North Park.
Today my neighbor recounted being hit by a car driver at this intersection last week while she was pushing a stroller and walking with her seven-year-old. The driver did not yield when making a left turn and did not use a blinker to indicate the left turn. She plowed into the group of three in broad daylight. If you walk this intersection you may have had close calls with drivers as I have on a number of occasions. We need to do much more to make our neighborhoods safer – motor vehicle crashes are the top cause of death for American children and adolescents ages 1 to 19.
For this specific intersection here are a number of improvements we can make. (The following could be applied to many areas across the city as well and hopefully some, like LPI, become the default treatment rather than reactive to areas with injuries.)
Sync pedestrian signals. Currently the east-west and north-south crossing signals do not sync – if you push the button on the east side only that side will give a “Walk” signal on green. These indicators should be synced for both sides of the street.
Automate pedestrian signals with minimum crossing times. In addition to pushing the pedestrian walk request (aka “beg buttons”) the pedestrian walk symbol should automatically be triggered and illuminated for the minimum crossing time when a vehicle triggers a light change.
Add a Leading Pedestrian Interval (LPI) in addition to automatic minimum crossing time signal. An LPI gives pedestrians a 3-7 second head start when crossing an intersection. NACTO notes that LPIs “have been shown to reduce pedestrian-vehicle collisions as much as 60% at treated intersections”. You may have seen LPIs in action at 6th Avenue and Laurel Street or other locations.
Add “Yield to Pedestrian on Turns” signs. A simple reminder to look around when driving and be aware.
Add curb bulbouts to the intersection corners to reduce the road width (and consequently road speeds). The image below is the current intersection with red added for potential curb bumpouts to reduce the road width and in which plants and trees could be added or benches to sit. The bulbouts would also reduce the roll-through turns that are common enough to be known as “California Stops”. The yellow portions are for potential additional parking spaces to accompany the bulbouts. (I don’t favor more auto parking in the area as there are better uses for our limited public land but seems to be a way to help get safety improvements done since many like a free lunch.)
6. Add red light cameras to penalize bad actors (after remaking them legal in San Diego). In 2013 San Diego got rid of red light cameras that were used to penalize those breaking laws at intersections. Cameras are cheap and effective ways to enforce laws like speeding, running red lights, etc. and would be ideal for areas like this intersection where common law-breaking by drivers has more severe repercussions due to the high number of humans nearby.
7. Lower speed limit to 20 MPH. Lower speeds help to avoid collisions and reduce the harm when collisions occur. This article has a great interactive chart showing the relative fatality risk at various speeds.
If you’re interested in helping make this intersection better in the ways noted above (or your own) you can help by contacting our City Councilmember, Chris Ward at email@example.com and the Council Office Rep for North Park, Tyler Renner – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Taking a moment to send a message as simple as “Please make the intersection at 30th and North Park Way safer. Our family walks there often. Thank you.” are great and really help to make improvements on the ground reality.
Let’s make the neighborhood a bit safer and more enjoyable for all
North Park has had a number of crosswalks installed in recent months, including some with push-button flashing lights as you can now see at the corners of 30th Street and Myrtle as well as 30th Street and Polk, as well as other locations. It has seemed to make a positive impact on the likelihood of drivers that yield to pedestrians at these intersections and hopefully an overall greater awareness for those walking in the area.
This post is to request a new painted crosswalk on the south portion (east-west crosswalk) of the intersection of North Park Way and Utah Street, in front of Jefferson Elementary. This intersection is just outside the front doors of the school and this three-direction intersection has a stop sign for each direction of oncoming traffic. There are currently painted crosswalks on the other two crossings at the intersection but just a “No Ped Crossing” sign for the third.
This aerial image shows the existing crosswalks to / from the Jefferson Elementary block in Yellow and the requested additional crosswalk in Red.
With all vehicles already needing to stop at this intersection it seems natural to include a painted crosswalk for pedestrians. Especially given that the school provides services for children from preschool through fifth grade it seems even more needed to have visible markings and crossings to ensure drivers are aware of the hundreds of small children in the area.
Many parents and children walk to the school from the south and east directions, either from residences or from parking in the neighborhood. Another marked crossing option would make the journey to school quicker, safer, and more convenient for all. (And outside of school hours for anyone walking in the neighborhood.)
Below is the current status of this crossing. Hopefully we can make this small improvement soon, for the use of students and the community at large.
If you’d like to help make this crosswalk a reality please reach out to the San Diego District 3 Councilmember, Chris Ward, at the following email addresses and simply voice your support. A message as simple as “Crosswalks at Jefferson needed and I support. Thank you.” are great.
Airbnb has collected and remitted Transient Occupancy Taxes (TOT) for hosts in the City of San Diego since July 2015, making collection of these taxes easier for both hosts and the City Treasurer. Per the City TOT FAQs, TOT is charged for the following stays:
“If you are renting a room for less than one calendar month, the rental is subject to the TOT.”
“It is the purpose and intent of the City Council that there shall be imposed a tax on Transients”
And to whom that tax applies in the definition for Transient:
“Transient” means any Person who exercises Occupancy, or is entitled to Occupancy, by reason of concession, permit, right of access, license, or other agreement for a period of less than one (1) month. A month is defined as the period of consecutive days from the first calendar day of Occupancy in any month to the same calendar day in the next month following, or the last day of the next month following if no corresponding calendar day exists.”
This definition does not rely on a strict number of days to qualify as a month – it is dependent on the number of days in each month. A stay of 28 days (or 29 or 30) in February (of a non Leap Year) are not subject to TOT but a stay of those durations in July would have TOT since July has 31 days.
The City of San Diego TOT is 10.5% for small short-term rental operators, those with less than 70 rooms. An additional TMD assessment used to apply to small operators but now applies to large operators only, effective September 1, 2016. Rates and additional information available on City website for TOT.
Airbnb has not correctly implemented the definition of a calendar month in collecting the TOT in San Diego and instead is applying the tax to any stays of 30 days or less. Per an email from Airbnb this week the company is collecting “10.5% of the listing price including any cleaning fee for reservations 30 nights and shorter”.
The Airbnb site can be used to see how the TOT calculation is being applied by entering dates and then clicking a property to see the reservations details, where the TOT is listed as a separate line as “Occupancy taxes and fees”. Below are a few sample results showing the TOT being charged when it should not be. The erroneous TOT charges are for hundreds of dollars each. I also called the TOT help phone number at the City (619-615-1530) to confirm that TOT should not be applied to these specific date scenarios.
I’m a big fan of Airbnb both as a host and as a guest. Having the company collect and remit TOT for hosts is a nice convenience, as previously short-term rental hosts on the platform had to complete and file a monthly return to report TOT. The incorrect application of the TOT rules and resulting overcharging of customers is not right and needs to be corrected. I’ve reached out to the company a number of times requesting this and either due to a difference of understanding or other reasons a correction has not been made. I’m hopeful that this article may result in corrective action being taken.
Mail-in ballots for primary races in San Diego were mailed out today, May 7, so if you live here you can expect to see them arriving soon. The election date is June 5. Vote next week, or the following, or on June 5 – just remember to vote.
Who to vote for? In the County Supervisor race for District 4 it’s clear:
** VOTE OMAR PASSONS **
I’ve known Omar for a few years and met him IRL (in real life) after starting to use Twitter as a newly established stay-at-home dad and fairly recent arrival to San Diego. He and others invited me to join them for pick-up basketball in Golden Hill. I love playing basketball and it was nice to connect with a bunch of people I hadn’t met before. Especially nice given that many of them were engaged in local issues and care about making this a better place to live.
If you’re engaged in San Diego issues you probably already know Omar (if not, find him on Twitter @omarpassons). He’s long been involved in city issues with hands-on experience or in policy discussions from graffiti to neighborhood parks to the many stadium debates in San Diego and so much more. The man is a dynamo of energy and gives frequently and deeply of his time and energy to support a broad range of causes that matter to him.
I’m not a Democrat or a Republican and broadly feel the strict two party system sets up a by-default “Us vs. Them” debate on nearly every issue, often unnecessarily. I’m a policy and issue voter and if you’re looking for an intelligent and thoughtful person to consider issues and guide the region you’ll find such a person in Mr. Passons.
No other candidate in the race has put forward as detailed of positions and policy ideas as Omar and it’s no surprise – these aren’t “made-to-campaign” platforms put together for the 2018 elections. They’re policies honed over decades of experience and personal action, wrought from real and deep-seated caring about our region and residents.
Take a look at Omar’s website for more details – www.omarpassons.com. Or take my preferred route and check out his podcast series for an audio experience on a walk around town. You’ll get a good sense for Omar as a person and why you should vote for him on June 5.
Little Italy continues to grow and become a better place to visit and live. The most recent addition to the neighborhood is Piazza della Famiglia – a 10,000 square foot public plaza with apartments above and 16,000 feet of retail and restaurant space surrounding. This plaza was formerly a short block of Date Street but per an agreement between the developer, H.G. Fenton, and the City of San Diego the street was vacated and a beautiful public space was created, paid for by private dollars.
The plaza isn’t fully open yet but a few of the businesses are and when I stopped by today on a sunny, gorgeous day around noon there were people chatting and having coffee, a family walking their baby in a stroller, and a number of passersby traversing the plaza on foot and bicycle. There’s currently a small tent set up with leasing information for the two apartment buildings that H.G. Fenton built next to the plaza – Vici and Amo – which add 125 units to the area.
Here are a number of photos I took of the plaza. The Little Italy Farmer’s Market (every Saturday and the best in the region if you ask me) will soon return to Date Street and the scene is going to be better than ever.
It’s awesome to see the neighborhood and the City choosing a public space over a handful of mostly free parking spaces (metered during part of the day) that previously occupied the plaza space. For a comparison I checked out the two closest similr streets, which are similar size – Cedar and Fir. When I stopped by Cedar had 10 total vehicles parked and Fir had 20, including one person moving from one meter to another and a parking enforcement vehicle looking for ticketing opportunities. Needless to say, these streets that are devoted to cars and parking had zero persons enjoying the square footage occupied by the empty traffic lanes and parking spots.
Which would you prefer for your neighborhood? 15 empty cars on a block, or a beautiful public plaza with shops, fountains, tables, and a place to sit and enjoy life? This sort of opportunity is available in spaces across San Diego, if we choose to embrace it. More likely we’ll see massive amounts of additional free street parking across the city, as soon to come to North Park, due to the City making it easier than ever to quickly give over more public land to parking. I’d prefer more plazas, trees, and life – hopefully you’ll join me in working for the same. And don’t forget to check out the Little Italy Farmer’s Market – a great start to the weekend for locals and visitors alike. I’d recommend taking a bike-share bike, hopefully by the time you visit the local business association will have stopped sabotaging those programs in Little Italy.
The City of San Diego continues to discuss options for regulations and rules around short-term rentals on sites like Airbnb. Short-term rentals are rentals for less than a full calendar month and have been the topic of discussion at a number of City Council and committee hearings over the last few years.
I recently received an inquiry from a San Diego resident that would like to rent out one or two bedrooms in the home they live in – sharing a room or home with guests is often referred to as “home-sharing”. Home-sharing is frequently brought up in the short-term rental debate with both sides typically saying there is no issue with this type of activity. (However, home-sharing is the only type of short-term rental I’m aware of that the City of San Diego took to court, and ultimately the judge decided that this type of activity is not allowed under current rules and issued a fine to that host.)
The prospective host in this case was looking to do the right thing and get clarity from the City before hosting on Airbnb. They contacted several City departments regarding how to fill out the right information for the Transient Occupancy Registration Certificate( “TORC”), if a Business Tax Certificate is required, what taxes they need to pay, and if there are other regulations they need to follow for lawfully renting out rooms via platforms such as Airbnb.
On the response to the prospective host, the city was clear and straight-forward in providing the process to register for the TORC, what kind of taxes the host would need to pay, etc. The Transient Occupancy Tax (i.e. hotel tax) is not part of the debate and proposed short-term rental rules – it is already in place and collected (and in the case of Airbnb remitted for all hosts on the platform each month by the platform itself).
However, in regard to other requirements for operating an Airbnb, the prospective host was directed to consult the Development Services Department (in charge of Land Use and Development). Surprisingly, when the host reached out to Development Services they were told that since there are no official regulations or rules around short-term rentals, this kind of activity is currently not allowed in San Diego. That’s when the host reached out to me, as part of my efforts with the Short-Term Rental Alliance of San Diego (STRASD) – seeking clarity the city couldn’t provide and how they should proceed.
The contradiction between the responses from different City departments is confusing but accurate. Yes – you can register and pay the taxes for this sort of activity. No – you can not engage in this type of activity in the first place. This is the current status of short-term rentals in San Diego, at least for home-sharing situations. It still seems that whole-home short-term rentals may be on firmer ground, although the current City Attorney has declared all short-term rentals illegal. [Note: the previous two City Attorneys held a different position, that short-term rentals were not illegal.]
This sort of lack of clarity is harmful to potential hosts like the one highlighted in this post – a San Diego resident seeking to improve their economic position and do so in a straight-forward and compliant manner in the type of short-term rental that is roundly approved of and supported. We need clarity to support residents like this and should encourage this type of widespread entrepreneurial opportunity to give citizens more options and ability to chart their own desired course. Hopefully in the months ahead we will see clarity that gives certainty to current and potential hosts and guests and that supports the opportunity that platforms like Airbnb and others gives to many thousands of San Diegans.