San Diego City Lawyer Decides To Shut Down La Jolla Airbnb Party Mansion

San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott announced Friday she will be closing a short-term vacation rental at La Jolla Farms, where police reported several boisterous parties, some of which drew up to 300 attendees. .

Elliott filed a civil enforcement action seeking civil penalties of at least $ 1 million and a permanent injunction against the owners of the mansion, the property manager and the tenant, who rented it out on a short-term lease on a number of platforms, the most widely known as Airbnb.

Of particular concern, Elliott says, is that large gatherings were held in the seven-bedroom ocean-view mansion during the pandemic, in violation of state and county COVID-19 public health orders. A dozen complaints to the police have been filed since May, a time when public health orders banned large gatherings.

Just a week ago, police received an early morning call to investigate a loud party attended by more than 200 people, according to legal records.

The house had been listed on Airbnb, as late as Friday morning, for $ 861 a night, although the civil complaint said it had already been listed for rates as high as $ 2,821 a night. On some sites it is described as having up to eight bedrooms that can accommodate 16 people.

“Closing dangerous party houses protects public health by preventing COVID super-spread events and other illegal behavior,” said Elliott, who is running for re-election. “It’s unfortunate that San Diego hasn’t put in place short-term rental regulations. Relief for this neighborhood would have come much sooner. Instead, we must rely on time-consuming lawsuits at the expense of taxpayers. “

Airbnb confirmed on Friday afternoon that it had removed the ad from its site “while we investigate further.” In addition to Airbnb, the house has been listed on a number of much lesser-known platforms, including Planet of hotels, Reserved.net and Rentberry. Price line also has the house on its website, calling it a “Spectacular $ 12Mill Beach Mansion-Clear Ocean View”.

Elliott’s complaint is targeted by husband and wife owners Mousa Hussain Mushkor and Zahra Ali Kasim, who acquired the house in 1988; their property manager, Nital Meshkoor, and Steven S. Barbarich, who rented the house and listed it on Airbnb as a short-term rental. The Union-Tribune could not reach any of the people for comment.

Described on the Airbnb listing as an $ 8 million cliffside mansion overlooking the beach below, the house is located at 9660 Black Gold Road, just east of La Jolla Farms Road and about half a mile from the beach. ‘UC San Diego. An ad says the 1-acre property includes tennis and basketball courts, a swimming pool, koi ponds, a library, and a yoga / zen room.

Elliott’s office alleges that landlord, manager and tenant maintain a public nuisance and engage in unfair competition, including false advertising. They also failed to obtain a required professional tax license and, according to the civil complaint, were guilty of various violations of the health and safety, building and fire code, including mosquito larvae. in standing water, exposed electrical wires, excessive vegetation and missing glass. panes of an entrance window covered with plywood.

The rental drew at least 30 San Diego Police calls, forcing officers to spend more than 173 hours on-site investigating the complaints. Most of the incidents, according to Elliott’s office, involved “raucous” parties, some with up to 300 guests.

During one of those rallies gunshots were reported to police, Elliott said. Party-goers interviewed by police said shots were fired in an earlier brawl. Police found cartridge cases outside the property, and a neighbor found an additional cartridge case the next day and handed it over to the police.

In another case, San Diego firefighters received a call to rescue an injured man. When the police arrived, they could not locate the individual, but the next day he was found at a local hospital, and he said that during the party he was doing pull-ups on the clothes rack of the bathroom when he came out of the wall and bumped into him, causing him to cut an inch in the head, according to Elliott’s file.

Other complaints cited by police related to on-site guns, assault, underage alcohol use and theft, Elliott’s office said.

Defendants in the case began advertising the La Jolla home as a vacation rental in 2017, but it was not until a year later that police began to receive complaints, according to the file. legal.

The court case comes more than two months after Elliott moved to shut down a short-term Bankers Hill rental, accusing the owner, a well-known San Diego restaurateur, and his property manager of multiple violations, including the organization of loud gatherings by tenants in violation of state and county COVID-19 regulations.

This action was also rushed by neighbors who filed numerous complaints with the police about loud parties. Shortly thereafter, Airbnb announced that it was suspending the announcement of the five-bedroom rental while investigating the matter.

City attorney spokeswoman Hilary Nemchik said Elliott’s office was in talks with owner, restaurateur David Contreras Curiel, and there was no court date for the moment.

In recent months, Airbnb has highlighted its efforts to crack down on so-called party houses. While Airbnb last year instituted a global ban on homes it said had become a persistent nuisance in the neighborhood, more recently it announced it would start banning all parties and events at listed homes. on its website.

It has so far suspended or removed 17 listings in San Diego County that have received complaints or violated its party and event policies. And since he started monitoring what he calls high-risk reservations last year, more than 95 reservations in San Diego County have been canceled, Airbnb said.

In addition, in line with last-minute bookings restrictions and policies prohibiting guests under the age of 25 from booking entire homes locally, it has redirected more than 8,400 guests to private accommodations or hotel rooms across the board. the county, Airbnb reported. this month.

Short-term rentals, which have grown in popularity with the growing number of online house-sharing sites, have long been a problem for the City of San Diego. Despite multiple attempts, the city has so far been unable to pass a set of regulations governing overnight stays of less than 30 days. Elliott previously issued a notice stating that overnight stays of less than 30 days are prohibited under the municipal code, but this has never been enforced.

Earlier this month, a short-term rental compromise proposal put forward by San Diego City Councilor Jennifer Campbell, with the support of the Hospitality Workers Union and Expedia – which owns VRBO and HomeAway – has been submitted to the city planning commission. No follow-up was given to the proposal. Instead, the commission referred the matter back to city staff to address concerns primarily related to technical issues of how the bylaws would be administered and enforced.

A hearing date has been set for December 3 to review the proposed settlement.

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