Another offer to regulate short-term vacation rentals in San Diego

A new proposal is circulating among city, labor and industry officials to curb short-term vacation rentals in San Diego – a long-running, often emotional debate that has polarized the city for years.

The latest effort stems from a recent agreement between Expedia Group, owner of online vacation rental platforms VRBO and HomeAway, and the San Diego hospitality union Unite HERE Local 30.

The Memorandum of Understanding between Expedia and Unite HERE, negotiated by City Councilor Jennifer Campbell, creates a framework to regulate vacation rentals that could potentially reduce the number of vacation rentals citywide by 70% within the city limits. city.

“San Diegans deserves short-term rental rules that protect our neighborhoods, preserve valuable housing and will stand the test of time,” said Campbell, who represents coastal communities including Mission Beach, Pacific Beach and Ocean Beach .

The city attorney’s office agreed to draft an order based on the Expedia / Unite HERE framework, according to participants. The new rules would remove some of the more controversial elements of previous attempts to regulate short-term rentals in the city.

City council is expected to agree to accept the proposal, which would likely be reviewed by the Office of the Independent Budget Analyst for financial impacts. Expedia and Unite HERE “hope” that the board will pass legislation that could come into effect in 2021.

For nearly five years, the thorny vacation rental debate has pitted the rights of landlords to rent their homes against residents who have seen their once-quiet neighborhoods disrupted by hordes of tourists.

“I’ve worked on it for what seems like my entire life now,” said Brigette Browning, president of Unite HERE. “It’s certainly not perfect. I feel like both sides have given up on things they didn’t want. But I think having something in place will be better than having this Wild West mentality that we had in San Diego, and this proliferation of bad actors.

While VRBO / HomeAway have agreed on a regulatory framework, market leader Airbnb is not a party to the deal.

With over 60% market share in San Diego, Airbnb has opposed past regulatory efforts. He backed a successful referendum petition campaign in 2018 that forced city council to drop the strict vacation rental rules passed earlier that year.

Expedia Group estimates that short-term rentals contribute $ 32 million per year to the city’s general fund through local taxes. He decided to support the new framework in part to end “regulatory limbo,” said Amanda Pedigo, vice president of government and corporate affairs.

“We believe this will bring certainty to our partners who have operated responsibly for generations,” she said. “It will set responsible boundaries that will address community concerns. “

The key element of the deal is to cap short-term rentals of entire homes at 0.7% of the city’s housing stock, which would represent 3,750 permits.

The exact number of entire house vacation rentals listed in the city is currently unclear. But the city auditor estimated the total short-term rentals – both for the whole house and for shared accommodation – at 16,000.

“We heard from an organization that monitors short-term rentals statewide that 80 to 90 percent are entire home rentals in San Diego,” Campbell said, “sharing the house is not so not much of it. “

Vacation rental critics claim that platforms such as Airbnb and HomeAway are creating financial incentives for renting properties for short-term stays instead of long-term residential use, reducing the supply of housing and driving up prices.

“This will free up several thousand apartments, condos, and homes on the market for long-term rental, or if owners want to sell them, they can sell them on the market,” Campbell said.

The proposal would make house sharing legal, where the permanent resident rents a room or apartment from grandma for a short period. Previous municipal bylaws sought to limit the sharing of the house.

The framework also allows residents to obtain permits at a lower cost to rent their accommodation at popular events such as Comic-Con. And that creates a good neighbor policy and enforcement guidelines.

Mission Beach is treated differently. It can have up to 30% of its housing stock, or 1,086 units, in the form of short-term rentals of whole houses in addition to the city ceiling. This proposal is consistent with the recommendations of the Mission Beach City Council.

“Mission Beach has a unique history of almost 100 years of short-term rental,” said Matt Gardner, chairman of the city council. “The whole community is kind of built around this. Many businesses and residents depend on short-term rentals to survive.

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