The San Diego Airbnb Controversy


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San Diego is a dream vacation spot; with the endless beaches, beautiful hikes, the enormous zoo, and the awesome festivities at Balboa park, who could say no? Well, those who are strapped for cash might have troubled swinging it. The cost of a hotel can add up quickly and are not always the best for families. That is why companies like Airbnb offer both affordable and luxury places to stay that range all sorts of housing options; single rooms, entire family friendly homes, or mansions that overlook the La Jolla sunset. Airbnb offers an alternative to the hotel lifestyle but is it as great as it cracks up to be?

The San Diego Airbnb market has grown rapidly in the past few years. According to data supplied by Airdna, listings have increased by 24% from 2013 to 2014 and then by 17% from 2014 to 2015. In 2015, around 185,000 individuals came to San Diego to stay in an Airbnb.

According to Smart Asset, a New York based financial advice firm, San Diego is one of the most profitable cities for Airbnb hosts. They found that the average price for a private room through Airbnb is $70 while the average two bedroom rate is $226. A two bedroom home rented through airbnb generates an annual profit potential of $31,481. Airbnb allows homeowners to supplement your income and give them some some extra cash.

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The effect of Airbnb on the locals:

Not everyone is as keen with Airbnb as others. In neighborhoods all throughout San Diego homeowners complain because they are woken up in the middle of the night by loud parties and constantly find new strangers living as their neighbors. Because Airbnbs aren’t exactly hotels or bed and breakfasts there is not much laws regulating their existence. The laws that do exist regulate some and not others but there is no universal laws throughout San Diego. One problem is that there is no definition of exactly what a vacation rental is which has led to difficulty in pinning down regulation. According to Gerry Braun, a spokesman for the city attorney’s office stated that, “the ordinances [on short-term rentals] are vague and unclear and can be interpreted different ways”. In order to move forward members of the San Diego community need to establish clear definitions for these evolved terms.

How community members are getting involved:

As legislation surrounding the Airbnb predicament is soon to arise, some community organizations have taken steps to try to sway regulation in their favor:

Anti-Short Term Vacation Rentals:

One group spearheading this campaign is Save San Diego Neighborhoods. On their website they provides information on how residents can take action, studies on short-term vacation rentals, and information about action that the government should be taking.

Pro-Short term Vacation Rentals:

The Short Term Rental Alliance of San Diego hope to work with city officials to create regulations that allow for short-term rentals within the City of San Diego. Their website provides information about their mission, resources, ways to share your voice, and a blog with the latest news on the issue at hand.

This issue is also relevant to homebuyers. If you are looking become a host in the Airbnb business make sure you are aware of the regulations that exist. It is important that you pay your taxes and stay current on the codes. If you are looking to buy a house with the intention of using an extra room for airbnb make sure you are aware of the responsibility you will be undertaking. If hosting is something that you know you want to do then perhaps consider purchasing a larger home so that you can rent out a room. Whatever your choice might be, we will need the help of all San Diego community members to help regulate this evolving business sector.

As other major cities are facing legal controversies with other major cities such as New York and San Francisco it is only time until San Diego is due. One thing that is for sure is that Airbnb has changed the dynamic of the home rental world