Vacation rental advocates rally outside City Hall

Supporters say STVR's help pad city coffers
Posted at 7:30 AM, Feb 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-06 12:09:30-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Short Term Vacation Rental owners and supporters plan to rally outside of San Diego's Civic Center Tuesday to point out the good their industry does in town.

The groups say STVRs add more than $20 million to the budget each year.

"That's no drop in the bucket," said John Anderson, a rental owner in North Park.

The money comes from Transient Occupancy Taxes (TOT) they pay to the city off every rental. Share San Diego, a group organized by STVR website Airbnb, says that accounts for about 9 percent of the total TOT revenue in town.

The group worries new regulations or changes to existing laws could hurt their businesses, and mean less tax money for the city.

"After more than two years of conversations on how to create clear, simple and enforceable short-term rental rules, San Diegans want to see real leadership and action on the issue," an Airbnb spokesman said in an email to 10News. "We remain committed to working with the city to getting an ordinance passed."

A Dec. 12, 2017, City Council meeting on the STVR issue lasted 10 hours but didn't come to any conclusions. It's the latest round of debates on an issue that has been brewing across San Diego for years.

Opponents of STVRs say they're bad for neighborhoods and make the city's housing crisis worse.

Right now, Airbnb has 8,300 units available to rent. Some estimates show another 6,000 on other websites.

"Every inch of space that you take up for short-term vacation rental in a residential zone eliminates housing for San Diego workers," said John Thickstun of Save San Diego Neighborhoods.

He told 10News that eliminating all STVRs, which is the group's goal, would decrease the housing crisis by as much as 15 percent.

"We want the city to enforce the existing municipal code and remove Short Term Vacation Rentals from all residential zones," Thickstun said.

But supporters, like Anderson, say having STVRs in those areas is the best way to showcase the city to tourists and people looking to move here.

"There's no better way to do that than connecting locals with people that are coming here," Anderson said.

Tuesday's rally is planned for noon in the plaza area outside of City Hall. While there is a City Council meeting scheduled for that time, the Council does not have the STVR issue on their agenda.