No lottery for short-term rental licenses needed, applications below city cap

Licenses are still requiredbut a lottery for the majority of short-term vacation rentals in San Diego will no longer take place.

Indeed, by Wednesday’s 5 p.m. deadline, the city received fewer than the maximum number of licenses allowed — 5,416, which represents 1% of the city’s housing.

“As of 5 p.m. Nov. 29, the number of Level 3 applications received was less than half of (5,416),” city spokesman Scott Robinson said in a statement.

Paul Becker, President of Bluewater Vacation Homesa San Diego company that manages vacation rentals said all of its owners have applied.

“If this is something you’ve been doing for years, which most of my owners have been – and it’s a way for them to keep their home and use it when they need it… why wouldn’t you apply?” Becker said.

Mission Beach, which has a separate cap for licenses, received more applications than its individual limit of 1,100 licenses. Candidates from this community will learn the result of their lottery no later than December 16.

Matt Valenti from Saving San Diego Neighborhoodsan organization that opposes short-term rentals in residential areas, suspects the low number of applicants means some people may not be complying with the new regulations.

“If all these other vacation rentals that continue to operate illegally without a permit, if they’re not shut down, that will send a pretty clear message that the order isn’t enforceable,” Valenti said.

Some estimates suggest the city of San Diego had as many as 16,000 short-term vacation rentals, so the relative lack of apps is a stark contrast, Becker said.

He said the estimates may have been miscalculated or exaggerated, but he still expects more nominations to come.

“The reason you wouldn’t apply is because you were afraid you wouldn’t get a permit, or if you were going back to the house – or you decided to rent it long-term, or you didn’t want to pay the $1,000 fee,” Becker said.

The city said within the next two weeks it will reopen the application process until the cap of just over 5,400 citywide short-term rentals is reached.

“Because short-term rentals had never been regulated in San Diego, there was limited data available on the actual number of hosts operating in the city. As we get closer to the effective date of the STRO May 1, 2023, the city anticipates that hosts will continue to submit applications for Tiers 1, 2 and 3,” Robinson said in a statement on behalf of the city.

Starting May 1, 2023, all short-term rental property owners will need a license to legally operate in San Diego.

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