continued “It all comes back to the mayor,” Pennell says. “He wants the TOT because the City’s broke.”
Councilman Faulconer’s approach to solving the problems caused by vacation rentals is to go after them for nuisance violations.
“One of the tools that has been used successfully recently is the CAPP program [Community Assisted Party Program] and the administrative fines program,” Faulconer says. “That really gets to the heart of it if somebody is not doing what they’re supposed to. There’s now a new tool for the police to use.”
The administrative fines program allows police officers to issue $1000 citations to residents or landlords for loud noise and parties. CAPP enables police to designate a house as a problem, allowing officers who respond to a call to that house to take a zero-tolerance approach, citing or arresting violators.
There are 39 “capped” houses in the 92109 zip code, but CAPP data does not include information on whether a house is a vacation rental.
“I believe one of the administrative fines that they’ve issued to someone for being too noisy was to a vacation rental home,” Faulconer says. “From my standpoint, I want to make sure that we’re protecting the quality of life for neighbors and for people who are visiting alike.”
Residents say there are a number of problems with Faulconer’s approach. First, it allows vacation rentals to exist in single-unit residential zones. Second, it deals only with noise and loud parties. Third, it puts the burden of enforcement on the neighbors. Last, responding to noise complaints is a low priority for police officers.
Penny Campbell has called police numerous times to complain about the noise coming from the vacation rental at 4135 Cass Street.
Originally a three-bedroom, one-bathroom house, the now–four-bedroom, four-bathroom house sleeps up to 12 people and rents for $3900 to $4700 a week during the summer months.
“It can take anywhere between two to seven hours” for police to respond to a noise complaint, Campbell says. “One time the police didn’t drive by until a quarter to seven in the morning, when the problem was occurring at one or two in the morning. By the time the police come by, it’s a totally different scenario because the response time is so long. One of my major issues, you have no recourse. You can call that number all night long, and no one is going to show.”
There are at least seven vacation rentals in a three-block radius of Campbell’s house, where she lives with her husband and two young children. She says she was recently asked if her seven-year-old daughter’s Brownie troop could have a sleepover in her backyard, but she had to say no because of the frequent late-night gatherings by the vacationers next door.
“My issues have always been the profanity, the noise, and the hours,” she says. “There’s also an uncomfortability. I don’t know who these people are that are next door.”
Because of the documented complaints, Campbell, Beckett, and Pennell say, owners and property managers in their areas are now renting to more families, which generally aren’t disruptive, but all three are still demanding that the City get to work preserving its single-family neighborhoods. Beckett points out that there are plenty of vacation rentals in properly zoned areas, such as Mission Beach and along Ocean Boulevard in Pacific Beach.
“We’ve argued that these are illegal in the RS zones, and they tell us there’s no ordinance preventing them,” Beckett says. “If that’s the case, let’s write an ordinance and fix the problem.”