Group protests short-term vacation rentals in Ocean Beach

SAN DIEGO -- Several Ocean Beach residents joined members of a grassroots organization Saturday to protest short-term vacation rentals.

Brian Curry of Save San Diego Neighborhoods helped organize the protest. He says companies like Airbnb are contributing to San Diego's housing crunch by converting places into mini-hotels and weekend party houses for vacationers, in turn allowing for fewer affordable homes for long-term renters.

"Mostly investors that don't even live there that don't even care about the neighborhood. They're just looking for the bottom line and now you no longer have a neighbor, you have a hotel next door," Curry said. "It's just taking over all of our neighborhoods. Basically, it's taken all the housing stock out and making our residential neighborhoods into hospitality districts."

Residents are making their opposition known. A truck parked in front of four brand new two-story houses near the intersection of Voltaire and Abbot is covered with large text that reads: "Airbnb profits from illegal rentals that cause rent increases, reduce the housing supply, and exacerbate segregation."

Residents say when the project appeared before the Ocean Beach Planning Board, the owner promised he and his family would live in at least one of them. It didn't happen and now, they're all short-term rentals.

But some say short-term rentals bring needed revenue for the homeowner and local businesses.

"We had to deal with a couple family emergencies and we wanted to stay close to my family, to my mom and dad to help through his radiation and his chemo, and the only way we could pay our mortgage was by short-term vacation renting it," short-term rental owner Albert Galura said.

Galura says short-term renting helped his family during a difficult financial time and that the benefit to local businesses should not be ignored.

"I know that a lot of our guests love checking out the local restaurants, the local coffee shops, local cafes. So I see them protesting and I just don't understand why they're so mad and nasty about it," Galura said.

And it's not just in Ocean Beach -- other coastal communities are also becoming aware of the impact of short-term rentals.

The San Diego City Council will meet on December 12 to nail down policy on these types of businesses.