STVR regulations protect residential neighborhoods from mini-hotel investors

City Council held a “second reading” of the amended version of our Mayor’s proposed regulation of short term vacation rentals on August 1, 2018, at City Hall with 8 of the 9 councilmembers present, along with the City Attorney and the usual complement of staff. Merle and I were there.

The entire council chamber was packed and two overflow rooms were needed to seat the much larger than usual crowd. No prayer was said, no pledge of allegiance was recited; but that is the norm – in a cage match or boxing ring. This match has lasted years and many say it is not over.

Some will dispute the “primary residence only” provision and the failure to “carve-out Mission Beach” – at the water cooler, the opinion page of the Union Tribune and perhaps the courthouse. The Coastal Commission will need to determine (and I believe that they will) that the laws of the State of California guarding the rights of The People to access the coast have not been infringed on.

I applaud the courage of the councilmembers, Bry, Zapf, Ward, Kersey, Gomez and Cole, to uphold the zoning laws of the City of San Diego and to protect the City’s neighborhoods from becoming overrun by de facto mini-hotels.

I became involved in the fight when I realized that my neighborhood of University City was likely to see additional unwelcome investment by non-stakeholders. True, the flow of investment was unlikely to amount to that of any of the true coastal neighborhoods, but nevertheless, according to several Realtors here, the encroachment had begun.

In anticipation of a different result than the 6-2 vote that occurred on August 1st, advertisements had already popped up from optimistic agents touting the glitter of the gold that could be had if “a smart investor would follow in the footsteps of coastal investors and purchase homes to be converted to short term vacation rentals”. It would be simple for “the astute investor to advertise their new whole home rental” in any of the numerous international platforms provided by multi-million dollar companies that had sprung up in recent times.

Thank you six councilmembers for preventing those “astute investors” from forever changing the residential character of our neighborhoods.

Contrary to one side of the debate, I believe Mission Beach is a neighborhood, in spite of the decades long, slow encroachment of unchecked commercialization. Contrary to that other side, I also believe that our zoning laws wisely separate commercial from residential uses, and the fact that for many years the City failed to enforce the laws, did not entitle those who chose to risk getting caught, to forever be allowed to commercialize a residential space.

My hope here in University City is that we all can simultaneously breathe a sigh of relief and at the same time strive to do a bit more than in the past to leave a legacy of a vibrant, safe and caring neighborhood for future residents.

Courtesy of Mack Langston. Mack is UCCA’s representative to the STVR Working Group of the Coalition of Town Councils. His background includes management and sales of multifamily properties. He is active in the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) and a member of San Diego Housing Federation. Mack can be reached at 619-818-4205 or

For related posts, visit


Stay informed #UniversityCity!

 – UCCA urges all to follow current guidance from SD County Health and Human services related to coronavirus and COVID-19.

We value your feedback and input. UCCA provides a forum where the interests of residents may be expressed and contributions made to the protection of life and property in the University City community. Please ‘Contact Us’ at

Sign up for email notifications at

 Like us on Facebook at

 Follow us on Twitter at

 Meet UC neighbors on Nextdoor at

 Visit our News Feed home page UCCA at

If you have a news item to share, please submit your story through UCCA’s Contact Us link at

Review article guidelines at