Below is a letter to the editor I wrote to the San Diego Union-Tribune that was published on October 14, 2015. The short-term rental debate continues in San Diego and the 125 word limit forces one to choose a specific point to make. The one I address below is that short-term rentals are bringing many millions of dollars into San Diego and those monies are broadly distributed to property owners across the city (and to businesses across the city as well). I do not doubt that there are some issues caused by short-term rental tenants, as there are issues caused by tenants of all sorts – long-term renters, short-term renters, property owners, vagrants, etc.
We should not lose sight of the enormous economic opportunity that short-term rentals present for San Diego, and San Diegans, while discussing how to address problems created and other factors.
Short-Term Rentals Present Opportunity for San Diegans
Regarding “Short-term rentals pay $16.4M in taxes” (Oct. 8): The expanding tourism sector of short-term rental properties creates more than a quarter of a billion dollars of economic impact in the City of San Diego – $285 million – per a study released last week by the National University System Institute for Policy Research. The study’s author, Erik Bruvold also notes this is a conservative estimate and that additional growth is expected in future. This large, positive economic impact in a city well-known for tourism should not be banned, as some are calling for, in response to complaints of noise, trash, and other negative impacts. Millions of dollars for San Diegans is a good thing, and provides funds for code enforcement and public benefits like parks.
This summer I was fortunate to take a bicycle trip across part of Europe, from Budapest to southern Bavaria (just south of Munich). It was the first time I had taken a trip primarily by bicycle and it was great. Unknown to me before our trip, Europe has created a number of cross-continent bicycle routes, named the EuroVelo routes.
We used EuroVelo Route 6, which goes from the Atlantic Ocean to the Black Sea – most of the route is bicycle only with some portions sharing the road through small villages. We were only on a small portion of this route since our journey was much shorter than the route. Here’s an overview of the whole network, it’s amazing.
The amount of people we encountered while riding was awesome. Groups large and small, single riders, day trippers, and those camping along the way. All enjoying the beautiful Danube River and a peaceful, quiet ride through the countryside and towns both big and small.
One town we stopped in for a night was Tulln, Austria. It was a charming town in central Austria with a well-kept town square. It’s a very old town, first noted in 859, but is making proactive changes to thrive in 21st century and put people first. The center city recently moved to a 20 kph speed limit for their city center. That’s 12.4 mph.
This small town, with cobbled streets and narrow roadways went out of it’s way to actively change in a way that makes people feel safe, valued, and welcome. The EuroVelo system has been created the same way – many people actively choosing to make Europe a place that increasingly values people and is a great place to live. In Tulln, and many of the other places we visited you were far more likely to see people walking, biking, or sitting and enjoying some sun than you were to see cars rushing to and fro. In America it is the opposite nearly everywhere – elementary schools, downtowns, suburbs, office parks. It is this way because we have chosen to build a place that incents and endorses cars above people and community.
The same applies to any community in the world – what it is and what it will become are choices constantly being made. Our roadways, our buildings, our speed limits are all man-made creations. The status quo exists because we continue to choose and support it. Cities like Tulln that are many centuries old have existed through great and terrible periods yet continue to thrive in the 21st century. Economies change, and so do trends – valuing people and creating great places to live and celebrate life are timeless practices.
What happens when you reduce speeds and limit vehicles? You get more people, more money, and a livelier place to live and visit. To Tulln – Prosit!
The following is from Dr. Gabe Mirkin’s website, www.drmirkin.com. It was forwarded to me by a friend and I couldn’t locate it online so am posting here to share the information.
Really enjoyed this somewhat quirky study of energy efficiency in transport and comparing human transport efficiency to a handful of animals. Enjoy and ride on!
Dr. Gabe Mirkin’s Fitness and Health e-Zine September 13, 2015
Bicycles Are Most Energy-Efficient
If you ride a bicycle, be proud. Humans riding on bicycles are more energy-efficient than any other animal and any other form of transportation. Vance Tucker of Duke University compared bicyclists to humans and animals running, birds flying and fish swimming, as well as to people in motor-powered cars, boats, trains and planes (J. Exp. Bio, 1973;68(9):689-709). The less energy per weight you use to travel over a distance, the more energy-efficient you are. Vance found that the most efficient creature without mechanical help is a condor. With mechanical help, the cyclist comes out on top. Here is a partial list, ranked from most to least energy-efficient:
human on a bicycle
human in a jet plane
human in an automobile
Mice, bees and hummingbirds use the most energy per weight and therefore are very inefficient and tire the earliest. This concept explains why pre-historic human hunters could catch faster-running animals. The human would tire later, so it didn’t matter how fast the animal could run; if the human ran long enough he would eventually catch the exhausted animal.
A person on a bicycle is more energy-efficient than one using an automobile, motorcycle, train or plane, even though he is much slower. If you compare the amount of calories burned in bicycling to other forms of locomotion, you will find that 100 calories supplies an average cyclist for three miles, a walker for one mile and a car for only 280 feet. A walking human uses 0.75 calorie of energy per gram of body weight for each kilometer traveled, while a cyclist uses only a fifth as much, 0.15 calorie per gram per kilometer. The WorldWatch Institute reports that when you ride a bicycle you use only 35 calories per mile, while walking requires 100 calories per mile, buses and trains use about 900 calories per mile per person, and a car uses 1860 calories per mile (Ergonomics, 2008 Oct;51(10):1565-75).
Slow Riders Use Less Energy Than Fast Riders
Cycling is so energy-efficient that a good rider can go just about any distance. In 2014, Christopher Strasser won the Race Across America by cycling 3,098 miles in seven days, 15 hours and 56 minutes. He averaged 16.42 miles per hour. The record for a woman was set in 1995 at an average speed of 13.23 MPH. Interestingly, slow riders use less energy per mile than fast riders. During a one-hour ride, a person riding a touring bike for nine miles burns 135 calories with an average power of 50 watts. In an hour an experienced bicycle racer can go 30 miles but will burn 2150 calories and produce approximately 500 watts or 0.67 horsepower. You burn more calories per mile because the faster you ride, the greater the wind and air resistance. Resistance varies with the square of your speed. A recumbent bicycle is more energy-efficient because being lower to the ground reduces the size of the bike and body that is being blocked by wind and air resistance (Proc Biol Sci, 2001 Jul 7;268(1474):1351-60).
More Cars Than Bikes in North America
The world’s 6.1 billion people own 1.2 billion bicycles and only 600 million motorized passenger vehicles. That’s one bike per five people and one automobile per 10 people. However, the highly-developed countries are dominated by automobiles. The United States has:
* Twice as many automobiles as bicycles
* More than 90 percent of transportation trips done in automobiles
* Less than one percent of trips done by bike
Benefits of Riding a Bicycle
More people should ride bicycles because:
* Bicycles require the least energy to go places. Cars use 30 percent of world’s petroleum.
* Bicycles are far more energy efficient than running or walking.
* Bicycles produce less air pollution than motor-driven transportation.
* Bicycles are manufactured with far less material and labor than engine-driven forms of transportation.
* Bicycles help to prevent disease and prolong life by giving you the health benefits of exercise.
Multi-day bicycle camping tour highlights natural beauty of San Diego
Bike San Diego has had a busy year to date, adding many new events like the Beach Side Bike Ride from Old Town to La Jolla in July, the Bike Month Bash along El Cajon Boulevard in May, and the upcoming Bike to the Border ride from Barrio Logan to the Mexico border later this month on September 19. In October another new event, the biggest for the organization to date, will debut. America’s Finest Bicycle Tour (AFBT), will showcase the natural beauty of San Diego and present an opportunity to connect with fellow participants.
AFBT is a three night bicycle tour of San Diego County with vehicle support for participants. Vehicle support means that participants won’t have to lug their camping gear or clothes while they ride – their belongings will await them at each day’s destination. Campsites are provided for each night, as is dinner and breakfast each day. Food and beverages for the event feature San Diego establishments like Modern Times Beer, City Tacos, Golden Cost Mead, and other great local companies.
The three campsites are Sweetwater Summit, Dos Picos near Ramona, and Carlsbad State Beach – a variety of camping locations that give a broad view of the diversity of topography and climate present in San Diego. Below is a map of the route, click through for a dynamic map you can manipulate for additional detail.
Cost for the event is $205 through September 26, increasing to $255 thereafter. There is limited capacity for the event so interested parties are encouraged to register early to ensure a spot. All proceeds benefit Bike San Diego, an organization working to “establish San Diego as a world-class bicycling city and create a more livable urban community by promoting everyday riding and advocating for bicycling infrastructure.”
As the Airbnb debate continues in San Diego, I found it interesting to receive a warning letter from my previous apartment manager, Torrey Pines Property Management this week informing tenants that using sites like Airbnb is not allowed in the buildings they manage. I contacted Torrey Pines and was informed that this is a proactive measure to avoid issues in future, not in response to issues that have occurred. Good for them for taking a proactive, informative approach to the issue.
I wanted to share this since there are likely many San Diegans that would like to utilize sites like Airbnb to rent a spare room, or their apartment while they are out of town. If you rent a property, or live in a building or community with an HOA it is important to check the terms or covenants, conditions, and restrictions before trying to host a guest on these platforms. Note that this may also be the case even if you’re not receiving money by using a site like HomeExchange or Couchsurfing.
In addition to issues with your landlord, renting a room in your apartment or home is currently illegal in the City of San Diego and you may be liable for tens of thousands of dollars in fines as a woman in Burlingame has found out. To date, this is the only penalty of this sort in San Diego but the Code Enforcement Division will be responding to complaints about this sort of use in the future and I assume pursuing violators with the same vigor as the Burlingame case. Per conversations with Code Enforcement any enforcement will be complaint-driven – they won’t be using the publicly accessible information on sites like Airbnb and VRBO to identify potential violations.
If your lease doesn’t allow you to host on Airbnb but you think it would be beneficial try talking to your landlord. Some landlords are willing to allow the use if you agree to take liability for any issues caused or may be willing to allow it for an increase in your rent payments. I know a couple of people personally using this approach, and in San Francisco it worked out for a couple as well.
Kelsey and Mike Sheofsky achieved that balance. The couple travel frequently for Shelter Co., their luxury-camping business. They had dabbled with the idea of listing their Mission District house on Airbnb. Then their landlord approached them.
“She said, ‘What do you think about Airbnb-ing your place when you’re gone?’ ” Kelsey Sheofsky said. “I thought, ‘Perfect, we’re ready to go.’ Now we do it, and we give her a 20 percent cut of any money we make after cleaning expenses. Some months we give her an extra 600 bucks.”
Your landlord may or may not be open to Airbnb – make sure you are informed and if you have a question make sure to ask.
Below is the letter from Torrey Pines in full.
The increasingly popular site airbnb.com where individuals can post short-term, vacation rentals is a growing concern for Landlords in San Diego due to the noise, strain on resources, and lack of regard for the property that comes from using any residence as a “Hotel” or “Bed and Breakfast”.
We would like to take this opportunity to remind our valued Residents that posting your apartment on this, or a similar site is considered a breach of contract and could result in legal action including eviction from the premises.
We take this matter very seriously and will be moving forward with legal action should your unit be located on a listing site for the purpose of subletting without our expressed written consent. Please contact your Property Manager if you have any questions or wish to report suspect or known violations.
Torrey Pines Property Managment, Inc.