STVR company offers commissions to realtors for new vacation rental homes

Opponents say they're going too far

SAN DIEGO (KGTV): A flyer from Seabreeze Rentals has presented a new wrinkle in the debate over San Diego's Short Term Vacation Rental Debate.

The company is reaching out to realtors, and offering a commission for any homes that become STVR's. Seabreeze founder Jonah Mechanic says it's simply a way to help realtors advise their clients on the how's and why's of using a second home as a rental.

"They weren’t sure about rules, regulations, transient occupancy taxes, permits or how it all works," says Mechanic.

Mechanic says his company runs about 150 vacation rentals in coastal San Diego. Of those, he estimates that 90% are second homes. His clients use them a few times a year. Renting them out keeps them from sitting vacant the rest of the time.

He says the pitch to realtors is to allow them to present that option to potential buyers who want to do the same thing.

"If it’s a home that’s a viable short-term vacation rental, there’s no reason that you shouldn’t rent it out," he says.

Meanwhile, they also talk to realtors about renting homes that are sitting on the market. If a home isn't selling, he says, using it as a rental can off-set some of the costs.

Mechanic took 10News on a tour of one home in a similar situation. The owners want to rebuild it and do a major renovation. But it has taken more than 18 months to get the proper permits and approvals from the city. While the owners wait, they asked Seabreeze to manage it as a vacation rental.

"Parties are not allowed, over occupancy is not allowed," says Mechanic, explaining that his company enforces strict rules to make sure the renters also act as good neighbors. "This is a residential area. Our neighbors have to get up and go to work the next morning, and there’s a code of conduct we expect."

But opponents say reaching out to realtors is crossing a line.

"This flyer is simply indicative of where the industry intends to take us if we let them. If we let them exploit our community, our city, our neighborhoods," says John Thickstun with Save San Diego Neighborhoods.

"They are promoting the conversion of residential dwellings to STVR's for profit," he says. "But at what cost to our community? At what cost to our neighborhoods? At what cost to our city?"

Thickstun says people who want to rent out second homes should only be allowed to do so on long-term leases that last at least a month.

Both sides of the issue are waiting for the city government to come up with rules for the industry. The City Council has held a handful of public meetings to try and solve the issue but has yet to pass any guidelines.

Mechanic says, since the city is already collecting taxes from the current rentals, they've informally legalized the practice. He supports the mayor's plan to allow homeowners to rent out their primary residence for up to 180 days, and have one other property as a full-time STVR.

Save San Diego Neighborhoods says they want to end the practice altogether.

The City Council will address the issue again at their meeting on July 17.

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