New regulations reducing short-term rentals in San Diego by 50% approved by Planning Commission

A new set of regulations that would reduce the number of Airbnb-style rentals in San Diego by 50% were approved by the city’s planning commission on Thursday, paving the way for what will likely be a contentious hearing before city council early on. next year.

The committee’s unanimous action represents a key step in the city’s long-standing struggle to reach agreement on how to legalize and regulate vacation rentals, which have mushroomed in recent years with the rise in popularity. colocation platforms like Airbnb.

“I think we have found something that is very justifiable,” said Commissioner James Whalen. “We received well over 200 written comments, and most of them were not in favor of passing short-term vacation rental ordinances. Obviously, the number of people complaining clearly shows that there is a problem that we need to address. On the other side of the coin, there are a lot of people who really depend on income from renting their homes for short term vacation rentals. The challenge has been where do we have these people doing it as a business.

“Since everyone agrees that there are no adequate regulations now, despite what some people have said, we need to act.”

Under the proposal the commission recommended for approval, the number of homes that could be fully let for short stays of less than 30 days in the absence of the owner or resident would be capped at around 6,500 citywide. , which includes a carve- to nearly 1,100 such rentals at Mission Beach.

For everyone except the community of Mission Beach, the number of annual vacation rentals allowed would be capped at 1% of the city’s more than 540,000 housing units. For Mission Beach, which has a long history of vacation rentals, the proportional allocation would be much larger, accounting for 30 percent of the total housing units in the community.

The effect of the proposed restrictions would be to reduce by 50% the number of short-term rentals of whole homes, which the city said totaled nearly 13,000 as of last summer. Individuals would be limited to one short-term rental permit each as long as they were entitled to occupy the rented accommodation, and a minimum of two nights would be required of all guests for the rental of entire accommodation.

The permits would be granted via a lottery, but the Planning Commission is asking, in the interests of fairness, that the city council consider distributing the allocation equally among the nine districts of the council. If approved by the board, the ordinance would come into effect on January 1, 2022.

“There are certain areas of the city that are more popular for Airbnb hosts, and I want to make sure that we don’t inadvertently create a situation where certain city districts that may be less wealthy economically or less politically active will lose capacity. to participate in this, ”said Commissioner Matthew Boomhower. “While I recognize that the lottery process is random in nature, I want to make sure that the board has the ability to consider how we make sure that the lottery odds are evenly distributed throughout San Diego and that we do not allow let it be swallowed up by people who are lucky enough to own property in our beach neighborhoods.

The order proposed to the commission came from City Councilor Jennifer Campbell, who represents many seaside communities and was able to garner support from Expedia, the parent company of home-sharing platforms HomeAway and VRBO, and Unite Here Local 30, the union that represents hotel workers. The 1% cap agreed to by the Commissioners is higher than the 0.75% threshold included in Campbell’s original proposal.

Campbell, who was praised by a commissioner for being brave enough to tackle the volatile issue of short-term rentals, applauded the commission’s action.

“San Diegans is ready for a plan that brings the housing stock back to market, provides licensing, regulation and enforcement in the short-term vacation rental space,” she said in a statement.

Airbnb, the leading home-sharing platform in San Diego, declined to comment following the commission’s action. During the hearing, Airbnb’s senior public policy official, John Choi, argued for a 1.2% cap, calling it a reasonable compromise.

“Our main goal is to establish clear and reasonable regulations to create clear roadmaps for our hosts to continue to open their homes to guests in San Diego,” said Choi. “We have proposed 1.2% as a reasonable and modest increase over Dr Campbell’s prescription … We believe this will still result in a reduction of over 50%, which in our opinion is a huge sacrifice that our hosts make in the effort to create stability and create clear rules of the road for our guests.

Unite Here retorted that the cap proposed by Airbnb was neither modest nor reasonable. The Expedia Group released a statement after the meeting saying it was happy with the commission’s action.

Under the proposed regulation, the governance of short-term rentals would be guided by a tiered system that would place 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. The proposal also allows these owners or permanent residents to be away from their homes for up to 90 days per year.

Much of the proposed measure relates to enforcement, a vexatious issue that has haunted the town for years and has raised complaints from landlords that the town has done little to crack down on problematic rentals with noise. and nocturnal parties.

The measure describes the steps that would be taken to enforce the new regulations, including the hiring of new code enforcement officers. Hosts who violate the rules would be subject to fines and after three violations, a license could be revoked.

San Diego has been struggling with how to regulate vacation rentals for at least five years, but has been unable to put in place any rules that would apply. More recently, the city attorney’s office cracked down on particularly problematic rentals. In late October, city attorney Mara Elliott announced she was taking action to close a short-term vacation rental at La Jolla Farms, where police reported several rowdy parties, some of which drew up 300 participants.

There remain a large number of landlords who believe short-term rentals should be banned in residential areas, based on the current city code, and some have urged commissioners to reject the Campbell plan.

“I bought my dream house here 20 years ago, and for the past four years it was next to a hotel that had an unregulated outdoor bar in front of the house, and on Saturday morning I woke up to a gunshot, ”said one Bird Rock resident. Steven Dowdy. “When are you going to support the rights of the citizens of San Diego? We bought houses in neighborhoods, we didn’t buy houses in commercial areas, and you are turning our neighborhoods into commercial areas. Shame on you.”

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