City fines woman for operating Airbnb rentals

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SAN DIEGO — The City of San Diego sent a strong warning Thursday to those who currently or are thinking about listing their home on Airbnb and similar websites.

A San Diego Administrative Law Judge ratified that owner-occupied residential room rentals, similar to those of Airbnb, are illegal without a homeowner paying $5,000 to $10,000 for a permit. Due to this ruling, the precedent has been set that every owner-occupied short-term rental in the City of San Diego is now considered a bed and breakfast.

Councilman Cate issued a memo to the City’s Smart Growth and Land Use Committee outlining proposed municipal code changes regarding San Diego’s regulations surrounding short-term vacation rentals in light of today’s sharing economy.

“I feel that every property owner should have the option to rent all or a portion of their home on a short-term basis. A thorough review revealed that those individuals wishing to rent out their property for a period of 30 days or less do not have clear laws by which to abide,” stated Councilman Chris Cate.

The news comes too late for retired school teacher, Rachel Smith. Back in 2013, Smith, 70, started renting out the two spare rooms of her 1912 craftsman home in Burlingame, just east of Balboa Park. Neighbors quickly complained about the increased foot traffic. That got the zoning inspector’s attention and a cease and desist letter was sent out.

“I thought, the city doesn’t understand what I’m doing. I’m not running a bed and breakfast. I’m doing Airbnb. I get to screen all clients. This is different,” Smith said.

Smith kept operating for another year and for that, the city slapped her with a $22,400 fine. She has since gotten a lawyer and it’s unclear exactly how much, if any, she will have to pay of this fine.

Councilman Cate said the proposed municipal code must still go through public comment before the Council votes. This could be done by the end of the fall.

8 comments

  • Idiot liberal

    I don’t like these airb&bs. They bring in a bunch of tourists and other ne’er do wells that care little about established neighborhoods.

    There is a reason that businesses cannot operate in residential areas.

    The lady is a moron and will pay the $24k as well as her substantial attorney’s fees.

    She should’ve listened to her neighbors but she’s a typical dump liberal.

    • Steve Strokemayer

      Wait I thought all you Teabaggers wanted the big bad government out of your lives?………oh that’s right just when it helps you……

    • Johnny

      Congratulations! You’ve politicized an article that has nothing to do with politics. You win the coveted “Moron of the Day” award. Now go flush yourself down the toilet…

    • DavidBDuncan

      ,,,my roomate’s ex-wife makes $77 every hour on the computer>>>She has been fired for 5 months but last month her paycheck was $14685 just working on the computer for a few hours. read the article>>> Read MOre

  • Allan H.

    Good news for the PB party houses since the ruling doesn’t affect them. Bad news for the quiet owner occupied and supervised room rentals. Party on dudes….

  • Christopher Holloway

    Two things: 1) this is an expensive City to live in. If this helps some people make ends meet, I’m all for it. 2). The way we do business is changing. People can use their cars to make extra dough either as a driver or a delivery person; people that are freelancers can find work using the internet and both the consumer and the person providing the service benefit. This is capitalism in 2015, it’s a given that the NIMBYs show up but can’t let that stand in the way of progress.

  • GuzzleMyNuzzles

    Good for the City. Glad someone has the guts to enforce the rules. This lady knew exactly what she was doing, and knew she was bothering her neighbors. No sympathy.

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