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A new report finds that Airbnb listings in the city of San Diego have skyrocketed since early 2015, with the biggest hotspots for listings in coastal communities, North Park and downtown, VOSD’s Ashly McGlone reports.

Overall, listings from February 2015 to this month rose by 39 percent, with even larger increases in neighborhoods like La Jolla, Pacific Beach, South Park, Point Loma, Little Italy and Ocean Beach.

The increase in Airbnb listings has divided local politicians. Barbara Bry, a Democratic candidate for City Council, has jumped into the fray by taking a firm stand against making it easy for people to rent out rooms or entire homes via Airbnb. In a VOSD commentary, she wrote that an estimated 6,000 properties have been transformed into “mini-hotels.”

“Viewed in terms of affordable housing,” she claims, “these 6,000 homes are essentially removed from the rental or home purchasing market, directly contributing to the housing shortage.” San Diego Fact Check finds that the claim is false.

The source of Bry’s claim is fuzzy, McGlone finds. Are there better statistics? Well, she writes, “while there are many ways to try to quantify the short-term vacation rentals issue, none of the methods are an exact science and all use some degree of averaging or guesswork.” Still, “no data offered by Bry or gathered from other sources supports” the 6,000 properties number. “Multiple data points instead suggest the truth is closer to a fraction of the number.”

Meanwhile, the city is still mulling how to regulate vacation rentals. Here’s how you can follow the existing rules while officials sort things out.

Politics Roundup: Coastal Questions

The state Coastal Commission is a mess, writes L.A. Times columnist Steve Lopez, and the governor isn’t stepping in to fix the agency that (at least in theory) is supposed to protect the environment. In fact, he’s “quieter than a California field mouse.” (We’re not quite sure how quiet that actually is, but perhaps a biologist can give us some insight.)

Lopez writes: “Brown must be fine with a trend in which several commissioners, including his appointees, often seem as if they’re placing development lobby interests over the public interest, even if that means aggressively challenging the recommendations of their own expert staff.”

There’s a local angle of note, one involving a San Diego county supervisor who serves on the commission: “Ask Commissioner Greg Cox about that $3,000 conflict-of-interest fine he paid for voting on a Sea World permit when his wife owned stock in the company,” Lopez writes.

 KPBS has a story analyzing the opinions of candidates in the 52nd Congressional District, where incumbent Rep. Scott Peters, a Democrat, is expected to win.

 The San Francisco Chronicle examines the effect of stunning legislation proposed by the governor that would make it much easier for housing projects with affordable housing to be built. Under the proposal, cities and counties wouldn’t be able to kill certain kinds of projects as they do now through zoning. In other words, many NIMBYs would find themselves crippled.

This Is Your State on Pot

This fall, California voters may make marijuana legal for users who don’t have permission because they have medical problems. L.A. Times columnist Robin Abcarian digs into what that may mean: “we could see a tenfold increase in what is already a billion-dollar-plus industry.”

As we’ve seen here in San Diego, the law makes life difficult for marijuana sellers even when they’re allowed to exist. But what if the law has to step back even further? The prospect actually makes some weed advocates nervous. So says an author of a book about marijuana: “Prohibition, for all its evils, acted in a way to protect this underground economy from capitalism.”

Abcarian herself shares a perspective that may be quite common outside the extremes of marijuana haters and pot enthusiasts: “Personally, I am not a weedinista. I hate feeling stoned. I don’t think pot will save the world, and dependence, especially with younger users, can be a problem. But I do think, in some settings, it can work miracles.”

In fact, she finds, certain marijuana helps ease cancer pain without making people feel stoned.

North County Report: O’Side Fire Chief Quits Amid Storm

The candidates for county supervisor in District 3 have been put through the fact-check wringer quite a bit this week, and VOSD’s weekly North County Report breaks down the various verdicts — and some backlash from the politicians.

Also in the North County Report this week: Oceanside’s fire chief has resigned after annoying the City Council with requests for more personnel, Del Martians (yes, that’s what they’re called) are worried about Highway 101 and residents are still rebuilding after the 2014 fires.

Quick News Hits: Zoo Redux

It seems like we hear warnings about dire wildfire conditions every spring whether the winter’s been rainy, dry or in between. Now, the cycle begins anew with another round of warnings, this time from the feds, about the potential for a dangerous fire season, especially in Southern California, where the drought hasn’t lessened much. (NBC 7)

Oh, California bullet train. Must you be so elusive? (Politico)

Not everyone loves a clown at the airport. (The Comeback)

U-T columnist Logan Jenkins visits the local repository of San Diego’s gay history and asks about how far chronicling the past should go: “Do you include well-known bars like Hillcrest’s Brass Rail or The Flame? Downtown bathhouses? Cruising areas like Balboa Park’s Queen’s Circle and Marston Point (called ‘Fruit Loop’)? The short answer: Maybe.”

In honor of Throwback Thursday, let’s take a look at the cover of a famous album that turns 50 this week. The cover shows a bunch of guys feeding what look like goats. Trees, maybe eucalyptus, are in the background.

The album? “Pet Sounds,” by the Beach Boys. The location? The San Diego Zoo’s petting zoo for kids.

You can head to a post on a blog called PopSpots for details about the classic album, which includes songs like “God Only Knows” and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and inspired The Beatles. The blog also has 1960s-era photos of the petting zoo, and the blogger even obsessively investigates exactly where the Beach Boys stood for their picture. There are also outtakes featuring the singers getting up-close-and-personal with a giraffe and a camel.

Who knew they were this serious about going on a surfin’ safari?

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and national president of the 1,200-member American Society of Journalists and Authors (asja.org). Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

Randy Dotinga

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com...

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