Is San Diego’s long-standing short-term rental impasse finally coming to an end?

A broad compromise that has the potential to end San Diego’s deadlock on how to regulate short-term rentals will be presented to elected city leaders on Tuesday.

The proposal, which has won support from Airbnb and other major colocation platforms, as well as unions, calls for an overall cap on the number of whole house rentals that could be listed for more than 20 days per year.

The net effect would be to reduce the volume of these rentals by up to 30 percent city-wide, based on city officials’ best estimates of how many San Diego vacation rental listings fall into this category. .

While the compromise presented by the office of Council President Jennifer Campbell would cover all types of shared accommodation, including renting a spare room, its biggest impact would be on entire house rental listings. the most active, which operate throughout the city, most notably in the coastal municipalities.

Campbell’s office estimates that under its proposed cap, the number of units that could be fully rented out for such short stays in the absence of the owner or resident would be limited to 6,500 city-wide. which includes an exclusion of nearly 1,100 such rentals in Mission Beach.

For all but Mission Beach, short-term rentals of entire homes listed more than 20 days a year would be capped at 1% of the city’s over 540,000 housing units, or roughly 5,400. Campbell’s proposal set at l Originally the cap at 0.75%, but the San Diego Planning Commission agreed in December to support the proposed settlement, but with a cap of 1%. For Mission Beach, which has a long history of vacation rentals, the prorated allocation would be much larger, accounting for 30 percent of the community’s total housing units, or roughly 1,100.

What gets more complicated is calculating how much reduction this is from the normal short-term whole-home rental activity that was typical before the pandemic, which drastically reduced travel.

A detailed report released on Friday by the city’s independent budget analyst analyzed multiple sources of housing sharing data from 2019 and concluded that the proposed cap could mean 1,650 to nearly 2,800 fewer listings of whole house rentals that would be allowed, with more than 20 days of activity per year. With that category of rentals capped at 6,500 per year, that translates to a 20-30% reduction, said fiscal policy analyst Baku Patel, who helped write the independent budget analyst’s report.

Campbell’s chief of staff Venus Molina said she believed the reduction could be as high as 50%.

“This ordinance does the job of balancing the needs of everyone involved in the STR discussion,” City Councilor Campbell said in a statement. “San Diegans will have more houses to buy or rent, neighborhoods will see a reduction in STRs in their communities with real application to eliminate bad actors. It really represents what San Diegans wants to see: the end of the “Wild West” RTS environment that has negatively impacted so many people. “

The new regulations, however, are unlikely to appease some landlords who insist the city’s municipal code does not allow vacation rentals and that they should be treated as illegal use.

The latest move to regulate vacation rentals comes more than two years after Airbnb and Expedia, the parent company of HomeAway and VRBO, successfully staged a referendum campaign that killed much tighter board-approved restrictions that would have prohibited the rental of second homes for a short period. – term stays. The city’s efforts to take control of the skyrocketing growth in housing sharing have continued for at least five years, as supporters and critics clashed in hour-long hearings.

Airbnb, which previously argued for a short-term rental cap slightly higher than the 1% proposal, said on Friday it was now prepared to support the proposal before the board.

John Choi, the Southern California policy manager for Airbnb, pointed out in an opinion piece for the Union-Tribune that while the proposed cap represents a substantial reduction in the city’s short-term rentals, it “ would still allow more hosts to continue to share their homes, protect millions of dollars in much-needed tax revenue to help the city recover from the effects of the pandemic, preserve an important customer base for small businesses, and bring in key stakeholders to agree on the way forward. “

Airbnb, however, does not support a Planning Commission recommendation that city council consider, in the interests of fairness, to split the allocation of vacation rental licenses equally among the nine districts on the council. .

Molina said in an interview on Friday that implementing such a system would most likely require revising all regulations, in part because the city does not have reliable data to determine the number of such short-term rentals. term in each district. On top of that, she said, such a change would likely raise concerns from the California Coastal Commission, which “has been very clear about allowing low-cost accommodation in the coastal area.” Distributing licenses by municipal district would mean far fewer vacation rentals in coastal communities, she said.

Under the proposed settlement before the board, the governance of short-term rentals would be guided by a tiered system that places no limits on hosts who rent a home for no more than 20 days per year. Likewise, there would be no limit for people who rent a room or two in their house while they reside there.

It’s still unclear how much the city would charge house-sharing hosts for the required licenses. The fees could potentially range from $ 50 for someone renting their home less than 20 days a year to $ 1,000 for hosts renting their entire home more than 20 days a year, Molina said. The revenue generated would be used to administer the short-term rental program and hire additional code enforcement officers to address unauthorized property and rental issues.

City Councilor Chris Cate, who previously backed less stringent regulations in favor of tighter enforcement, said he was ready to back Campbell’s proposal, although he didn’t like the idea of a ceiling.

“I’m at a point now where we need something. I have been married and had two children since we started this journey, ”said Cate. “I would like the cap to be higher, but I want rules, I want regulations and I want certainty, which we have been defending for 6 and a half years.”

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