SAN DIEGO – As short-term vacation rental company Airbnb announced a global crackdown Thursday on parties held at its listings, San Diego city officials say they’re working swiftly to take on bad actors amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
That includes a local listing dubbed “The Ashley” on Second Avenue in Bankers Hill, which City Attorney Mara Elliott said recently became notorious for holding large gatherings. It was shut down following a complaint filed by Elliott’s office earlier this month, alleging more than 20 violations of state and local laws.
“Twenty to 100 people are standing outside that house, and obviously that’s not compliant with the orders that are in place right now to protect our health and safety,” Elliott said.
Elliott noted that there’s some urgency to break up so-called party houses as the pandemic stretches on into the late summer in the U.S. and throughout the world. One such house in Hollywood Hills has drawn some national attention after Mayor Eric Garcetti ordered this week for utilities to be cut off following repeat violations of public health guidelines.
In a statement Thursday, Airbnb said its global ban caps occupancy rates at a single listing at 16 people. The ban will be in effect “indefinitely,” the company said.
“We acknowledge that there will always be those who attempt to break the rules. This is why we’ve implemented steep consequences for hosts or guests who try to skirt them – including bans from our community and even legal action,” a portion of the company’s statement reads.
But Elliott said it’s not just the number of people in a home, but how they are treating the surrounding community — people like Larry Courtney, who lives near such an Airbnb property also known for parties and large gatherings in San Diego.
“We’ll see,” Courtney said. “Even with 16 people, they still maybe could cause some problems.”
Elliott said it is up to neighbors to inform her office which houses are throwing parties during the pandemic. Other problem houses also are investigation, she said.
“I enforce the law, but I need that first step to tell me the law is being broken,” Elliott said.