Council Candidates Talk Vacation Rentals, Homelessness In District 2 Race
With the June 5 primary election fast approaching, six candidates vying to unseat incumbent Lorie Zapf in the race for San Diego City Council District 2 are pushing hard in the home stretch.
Zapf, a Republican who has served on the council since 2010, is hoping to secure a third term, allowed due to redistricting in 2012.
Some of the big issues in the beach and bay community, which includes Point Loma, Ocean Beach, Pacific Beach, Mission Beach and western Clairemont, are homelessness, short-term vacation rentals, coastal height limits, a proposed sewage pipeline and aging infrastructure.
Zapf’s challengers shared their positions on several of the divisive issues, including short-term rentals, with a crowd of 150 during a recent forum at Clairemont High School. Zapf did not attend.
“I am absolutely against vacation rentals in single-family neighborhoods,” said Melton, a Point Loma resident. “I am for it in high-density areas of different neighborhoods.”
Smiechowski, who lives in Clairemont, said he favors the idea of short-term rentals with strict provisions. “We have to reach an agreement with the public, with the people in the neighborhood. But I do support the concept of short-term vacation rentals with strict code enforcement.”
Hahn, a 20 year resident of Clairemont, said the rentals make sense in areas such as Mission Beach, where they have existed for decades, but not in family neighborhoods.
“My street, for example, every other house — there’s one, two kids living there and it is absolutely not acceptable in my humble opinion to allow short-term rentals coming and going,” Hahn said.
Beane, a renter in Pacific Beach with hopes of someday owning a home, said short-term vacation rentals are depleting the housing stock.
“When out of town investors come in with all cash offers, there’s no way we can compete,” Beane said. “Every house that gets taken off the market and gets turned into an Airbnb by an out of state investor is doing damage to those who want to stay here, those who want to buy in here, and those of us who want the same opportunity that so many of you in this room had when you were able to buy in a lovely neighborhood like Clairemont.”
Campbell said residents who live in their homes should be allowed to rent out bedrooms to generate income, as long as those are strictly regulated and the city collects taxes on the added income.
“For people who do not live in the home permanently, they should not be allowed to rent it out as a hotel in a residentially zoned area,” Campbell added.
Pease, an Ocean Beach resident, said he’s against allowing investors to turn properties into short-term vacation rentals, especially when it involves evicting long-time tenants to do so.
“That’s where we really have to put our foot down and make sure people aren’t being evicted for Airbnb,” Pease said.
Zapf stated in December she opposes short-term rentals but supports home-sharing, where the owner lives in the home permanently and rents out a room short term.
While vacation rentals are a top issue for many residents, Carl Schilling, a resident of western Clairemont for 66 years, cares most about the region's aging infrastructure. He said District 2’s coastal communities offer sweeping views, but a closer look at sidewalks, streets and parks shows the need for major improvements, and he’s looking for a candidate dedicated to fixing up the neighborhood.
“Like pipes, roads, we’re having trouble with getting those things fixed," Schilling said. "And we keep getting those potholes all the time, and they’re not using the right kind of pavement.”
Barbarah Torres, a resident of Clairemont for 7 years, said affordable housing is the most pressing issue in the district.
“That obviously dovetails into the homelessness issue the city is having,” Torres said. “Downtown has pushed out a lot of their homeless, and now a lot of our communities are having to deal with them.”
The top two candidates who make it through the June 5 primary will go on to the general election in November.