Preserve Our Communities

Clairemont Times File Photo

By Scott Gruby

As we all know, San Diego is a wonderful, beautiful place. That’s why all of us have chosen to live here.

And that’s why millions of people visit San Diego every year.

But today, more and more people are choosing less traditional accommodations.

Instead of staying at a hotel or motel, they are choosing to rent homes, bedrooms or sometimes even a sofa.

These homes, of course, are not in commercial districts. They are in neighborhoods – where people live and children play. And they aren’t just in beach communities – they exist here in Clairemont, in North Park, and many other family-friendly communities across San Diego.

Here in Clairemont, I have witnessed first-hand the terrible impacts of these short-term vacation rentals. The home next to mine was rented out on a short-term basis almost every week.

While some renters were peaceful, many were not. We often endured loud partying well into the early morning hours, drunken, obnoxious people hanging out in the front yard and spilling out into street, heavy traffic, and even people parking in other neighbors’ driveways.

I called the police, but these aren’t what they call “high priority” calls. So often we would wait – and wait.

Fed up with this ongoing problem, and fearing for the safety of my family, I started to act. I installed tall bamboo fencing in my backyard. I put in video surveillance cameras. And I hired an attorney.

In all, I spent thousands of dollars – and countless hours – dealing with this insanity.

It shouldn’t have to be like this. These are our neighborhoods. This is where we are raising our families. Our homes are supposed to be our escape – a place to get away from it all.

But in many communities, this hasn’t been the case.

To remedy the problem here in Clairemont and throughout the city, I helped establish a coalition of San Diegans known as Preserve Our Communities.

We are proposing several common-sense policy reforms – reforms we’d like the City Council to act on as soon as possible.

They include:

• Requiring a minimum 21-day stay on all properties that are unoccupied by the owners.

• Requiring a minimum 7-day stay on all properties that are occupied by owners. For example those that are renting out a bedroom or a sofa.

• Capping the total number of days a home can be rented out each year to 84 (that’s 21 days four months of the year)

• Requiring all short-term rental properties to comply with all health and safety regulations required of motels and hotels.

• Dedicating an ongoing city funding source for increased code enforcement.

• Giving neighbors the authority to take legal action against nuissance rental property owners, and collect attorney’s fees if successful.

We believe that these changes – collectively– will go a long way towards preserving our communities, and making sure that our neighborhoods aren’t overrun with loud, intrusive short-term rentals.

Scott Gruby is a Clairemont resident.

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