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The City Council this week is poised to make a decision — perhaps final, perhaps anything but — regarding the fate of Airbnb-style short-term vacation rentals.
It’s been a complicated debate, but one thing seems clear: Whatever happens, these rentals won’t be banned, our Scott Lewis reports in a new guide to the vote Tuesday. But they could be allowed with plenty of leeway for property owners to rent out their homes all year (according to one bipartisan plan) or only for 90 days (according to another plan).
Some fans of renting their homes think the latter plan is Armageddon. Then there are those who want to punt the issue because they can’t stand Airbnb-style rentals and don’t want the law to change to accommodate them yet. After all, the city attorney has said they’re technically illegal as it stands. And the City Council is in the middle, surely hoping for… a short-term vacation.
• In a VOSD commentary, Dennis and Julie Richardson write that the debate over Airbnb-style rentals is leaving behind two groups: “no one seems to be thinking about the real people behind the rentals or their guests.”
“Our family has been enriched by the depth and breadth of people who have come into our homes — visitors from Canada, China, Japan, Australia, Mexico and across the U.S…,” they write. “Renting our home has never been about taking any housing unit off the market; it’s been about keeping in our family something that was handed down to us without worrying about how we can afford it.”
They support the most lenient City Council plan.
• A couple who had bad experiences with Airbnb in Europe have posted their analysis of 1,000+ Airbnb complaints. They claim that “Airbnb has multiple dangerous loopholes and scams that are going unchecked. This affects everyone using Airbnb including guests staying in the USA.” They also posted an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit (www.asherfergusson.com)
Notorious Medi-Pot Case Almost All Undone
James Slatic, a local medical marijuana pioneer who became a national célèbre when local prosecutors targeted him and confiscated hundreds of thousands of dollars, has won a moral victory, if not an entire victory.
The new district attorney, Summer Stephan, is giving nearly $300,000 back to Slatic and his company, plus interest. He had personally earlier gotten more than $100,000 returned. He’s forfeiting $35,000.
The DA dropped seven felony chargers and Slatic pleaded guilty to a couple misdemeanors, was fined and is going on probation. “So ends a nearly two-year case with sudden and suspenseful turns,” reports our new newsroom staffer Jesse Marx in his first VOSD story.
Slatic was one of the first local entrepreneurs we profiled in our series I Made It in San Diego. The felony charges hit during production and just as quickly, they’re gone.
Lilac Fire Update: Good News
The Lilac Fire is mostly contained, the U-T reports, and evacuations and road closures are lifted. The total of destroyed structures stands at 182.
• “We’re going to rebuild. I believe something good will come out of this,” one fire survivor tells the U-T.
• The New York Times checked in on Scripps Ranch and the lessons residents learned about how to rebuild from these disasters.
“Nearly 15 years after a wildfire incinerated more than 300 homes in this suburban neighborhood north of downtown San Diego, the vivid and often bitter memories of destruction and rebuilding come flooding back every time they hear about a fire in California,” the Times’s Jennifer Medina wrote.
• Some North County schools planned to stay closed today because of the fires, although some are opening after shutting for a couple days last week. NBC 7 has updated info here.
• “The county’s much-vaunted emergency communications system was unavailable for a multitude of callers as a runaway wildfire raced across north San Diego County most of Thursday,” the U-T reports in a story about the 211 system. “Caller after caller could not connect with a live person for fire information or directions about where to evacuate the Lilac Fire.”
• The county’s two Republican congressmen, one who voted for tax reform and one who didn’t, are “supporting a bill by Rep. Mimi Walters, R-Irvine, that allows California property owners to deduct wildfire damages from their taxes and to draw funds from 401(k) retirement accounts to rebuild without paying a penalty.” (U-T)
• The new normal, it seems, is to talk about “the new normal” a lot. Case in point: Governor Jerry Brown. “ This is the new normal,” he said of the state’s wildfires.
Pointing at climate change, he said “this could be something that happens every year or every few years. We’re about to have a firefighting Christmas.” (L.A. Times)
Quick News Hits: (Not) Makin’ Bacon
• Christmas lights on overpasses make it especially nice to drive on I-805 through Normal Heights and North Park during the holiday season. City Heights isn’t so fortunate, the Reader reports, and a resident says he can’t get Caltrans to return his calls.
• If you’re a weather geek, you know about the Julian area’s Sill Hill, which keeps being hit by hurricane-force Santa Ana winds. Two guys went out there for some reason, and here’s video of them getting blown around. Goggles, guys, goggles!
Also, this brings up a Very Important question: How many hills would a Sill Hill sill if a Sill Hill would sill hills?
“Earlier reports that the pig weighs 1,000 pounds,” tweeted the U-T’s Phillip Molnar. “are hogwash.”
What a ham.
Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. He is also immediate past president of the 1,200-member American Society of Journalists and Authors (asja.org). Please contact him directly at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.