San Diego

RVs Add New Spin to Short-Term Rental Debate

There's a new twist to the heated debate on short-term vacation rentals in San Diego. Many people are now renting out their RVs while parked on their property.

According to the city’s Municipal Code, however, it’s against the law.

Right now, there are dozens of RVs available to rent on the website Airbnb. The prices range from $52 to $92 per night.

Aaron and Nathan Farris are visiting from Houston and rented an Airstream in Golden Hill for $79 a night for six nights. Aaron says he saved close to $1,000 by not staying in a hotel.

“I wasn’t actually even looking for the RV initially. I just saw the price, I looked at it and thought that’s fun, so let's do it,” Aaron Farris said.

In Bay Park, an RV rents for $65 a night. Another Airstream in North Pacific Beach rents for $75 a night. Pictures on the Airbnb website show the RVs with complete amenities, though space is very tight.

“The small shower with the really low water pressure gets old after a while. But other than that, it’s a lot of fun,” Aaron Ferris said.

Councilwoman Barbara Bry and her fellow councilmembers are trying to draft regulations on short-term vacation rentals. Bry said renting RVs is a zoning violation.

“We have zoning rules and we need to abide by them," she said. "People buy property expecting that their neighborhood will be a certain way”

According to the San Diego Municipal Code, “No person shall use or occupy any mobile home, commercial coach or recreational vehicle on private property not licensed as a mobile home park or special occupancy park.”

But so far, nobody has been cited. And it could be because nobody is complaining about it. In some cases, the RVs are parked behind fences and neighbors are not aware they’re being rented out. Other neighbors say it’s not a big concern.

Several of the RV renters, who did not want to be identified, say renting out the RV is no different from renting out a home, or room.

Aaron Farris says staying in the Golden Hill RV allowed him to spend money at local businesses.

“I'm from Texas, so I have a different background," he said. "But if I own a piece of property, I would like to think that I can do what I want with my property.”  

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