Mission Beach business owner talks travel and the town’s century-old tourism economy

Meet Matt: Father, longtime San Diegan, and owner of popular Mission Beach recreation equipment rental shop, Cheap Rentals. The bike and surfboard rental shop has been a part of Matt’s life since his childhood, when he’d spend summers working behind the counter for his uncle. Years later when his uncle was considering retirement, Matt took over the business and has continued its history as a local Mission Beach mainstay. “Travelers from all over the world come to our store, and many times we act as their welcoming concierge to San Diego,” Matt says. “We take that responsibility very seriously — we’re not just renting a surfboard or a bike, we’re representing San Diego and Mission Beach, and are providing access for visitors to explore this city and create their own experiences.”

“Short-term vacation rentals have been a part of Mission Beach’s history for 100 years.”

As a 12-year resident of Mission Beach, Matt also understands its history as a vital San Diego travel destination. “Mission Beach is the hub of tourism in San Diego,” says Matt. “And short-term vacation rentals have been a part of our history for 100 years.”

Without short-term vacation rentals, Mission Beach and Matt’s business would both look very different. “The number one way travelers are able to enjoy Mission Beach is by staying in short-term vacation rentals,” says Matt. “99 percent of my customers said they wouldn’t visit Mission Beach without vacation rentals — they would find another city to visit instead.” Matt calculated he would lose 40 to 50 percent of his business if short-term vacation rentals were banned. “We can’t survive that,” says a dejected Matt. “I would have to let go of my 20-plus employees and I’d be out of business.” The effects would cascade to Matt personally as well. “I have a wife and 14-month-old daughter, and we just closed on a new house,” Matt adds. “My business is the income we live on. To have it swept away is completely unfair and would be devastating for us.”

“Without vacation rentals I’d be out of business.”

Matt is a fixture in the local community as a board member of the Mission Beach Town Council, and regularly talks to fellow local business owners, as well as local residents, many of whom own vacation rental properties. “They are blowing up my email,” he says. “The Mission Beach economy was built on tourism. Corporations are not buying up homes here. The vast majority of the owners are people with one extra property, and for many of them short-term rentals are their livelihood. ”

“For many owners of vacation rentals, this is their livelihood.”

Given the opportunity to speak with the Council, Matt would advocate for fair regulation. “We all agree regulation makes sense,” he says. “I would tell the council their ordinance is shortsighted, and was passed without analysis. I would present data from the business community highlighting the estimated loss of revenue, as well as feedback from customers who say they wouldn’t visit Mission Beach without short-term vacation rentals — the council needs to see how detrimental this law is to the Mission Beach economy as a whole.”

“This law is detrimental to the Mission Beach economy.”

Ultimately, Matt believes in compromise, and hopes the city will work with the residents and business owners in Mission Beach to ensure the tourism economy thrives for another 100 years. “We need balance, and I believe if we work together, we can find that and ensure Mission Beach continues to thrive for businesses, visitors and owners of short-term vacation rentals.”

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