Bird Rock residents get concessions from MTV show in their neighborhood

By Dave Schwab

Staff Writer

Producers of the MTV show “The Real World” being filmed in Bird Rock agreed Friday to concessions demanded by neighbors to compensate them for problems associated with traffic, noise, lighting, security and safety caused by the show.

“At the recommendation of the police department, the producers will be funding one uniformed Police Officer with a patrol car who will be stationed at the roundabout entrance to the neighborhood each night until 4 a.m.,” said First District Councilwoman Sherri Lightner following negotiations between her staff, the show’s producers, the Film Commission and the police. “The officer will begin his first shift tonight at 6 p.m.”

Lightner said she also relayed to the producers neighbors’ specific requests to shield the lights on the roof of the Real World house and to turn those lights off by 10 p.m. each night. She said Bob Vacchi, director of the Neighborhood Code Compliance Department, reported that his department conducted a nighttime inspection of the lights on the Real World house Thursday night.

“The inspector found one light on the southeast corner of the property that needs to be better shielded,” she said. “Mr. Vacchi has spoken with the show’s producers about addressing this issue.”

The Code Compliance Inspector will also be conducting a follow-up daytime inspection of the roof and the interior of the home within the next week, Lightner added,  noting her office will provide an update after that inspection occurs.

About 30 residents turned out earlier this week on Tuesday night at a private community meeting hosted by Lighter  to discuss issues they have with “The Real World” which is filming now until about Labor Day. They insisted their neighborhood be compensated by MTV's hiring round-the-clocksecurity, and that bright lights on homes rooftop be dimmed  or elminated completely.

Summarizing neighbors' serious concerns with noise- , traffic- and security-related problems with MTV’s filming at the La Jolla oceanfront residence, Milan Dimich said, "We’ll take whatever steps we feel are necessary to stop the intrusion to the neighborhood.”

Rob Dunson, president and head of production for the San Diego Film Commission and Ed Quinn, a San Diego Film Commission Boardmember and a La Jollan who is a resident of Lower Hermosa, were present to answer questions about the film industry in San Diego and MTV’s current shoot. MTV was invited to send a representative but did not show.

Now in its 28


season, The Real World focuses on the lives of groups of strangers who audition to live together in a house for extended periods while cameras record their often-conflicting interpersonal relationships.

Several neighbors at the July 5 meeting at Bird Rock Coffee Roasters expressed a preference for not seeking a compromise with show producers, but rather wanted to seek a way to shut down filming immediately. They allege show producers are violating city municipal zoning codes in running a business out of a single-family home in a residential neighborhood.

“There’s (vehicular) activity going on on the street day and night and surly characters at all times,” complained neighbor Brandon Wander. “My wife, my 10-year-old daughter and I have concerns about safety issues.”

Wander said the question to be answered shouldn’t be what to do about the MTV show’s filming, but rather “why they’re here in the first place.”

“It appears they’re operating in violation of city municipal codes operating a business in a single-family residence and having employees sleeping overnight at the location, like a mini-dorm, which is not allowed,” he said.

Another neighbor, who requested anonymity after the meeting, noted he no longer allows his children to play outside because he fears for their safety from increased traffic caused by the MTV house.

“I want to know, can we shut this down or not?” the neighbor asked.

“Very doubtful,” replied Councilwoman Lightner adding, “I am disappointed in the process and lack of notification to our community. … I know this single-family residence neighborhood doesn’t seem like a real good place for this type of filming and that there are a lot of small children in the immediate area … but we cannot remove them from the house and, going forward, we need to determine how to increase the transparency and the public participation in this process.”

“What are they contributing back to the neighborhood?” queried neighbor Robert Asaro.

“I understand you’re upset and we’re trying to make this better for all of you,” said Dunson of the film commission adding, “We did not recruit Real World. And even if we did recruit them, we couldn’t stop them from renting a house.”

Lightner urged neighbors not to engage in any confrontations with the cast or crew of the production.  If problems arise, she requests that people call Film Commission representatives Rob Dunson at 619-234-3456  or Kimberly Hale at 619-417-3665.

Lightner can be contacted at 619-236-6611 or e-mailed at



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