Should San Diego approve limits on the number of short-term vacation rentals?
The San Diego Planning Commission this week approved a plan to reduce short-term rentals by 50%.
It has yet to be approved by city council, but the plan marked a major milestone in the city’s efforts to reach a deal on Airbnb-style rentals.
The decision was based on residents who for years complained about noisy vacation rentals next to their homes. However, vacation rentals are also an important source of income for the city through public transport occupancy taxes.
Q: Should San Diego City Council approve proposed regulations that would reduce the number of short-term vacation rentals by 50%?
Reginald Jones, Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation
YES: Residential zoning should be limited to permanent housing, instead of allowing vacation rentals. Beyond the disruption that short-term rentals bring with a revolving door of foreigners, they destabilize neighborhoods and reduce the supply of necessary permanent housing. San Diego hotels offer a range of accommodations – from single rooms to mini residential suites – all located in desired vacation spots across the city. Limiting vacation rentals is a good first step. They should eventually be banned from residential areas.
Lynn Reaser, Point Loma Nazarene University
YES: The proposal appears to be a reasonable compromise, balancing the benefits of landlords receiving vacation rental income against the harms that can be imposed on landlords with disruptive behavior. These homeowners also argue that vacation rentals convert residential zoning to commercial zoning, compromising their investments in the home. While the city may lose taxes on vacation rentals, these losses should be offset by higher hotel bookings. Resolution, rather than continued uncertainty, on this issue would be clearly positive.
Kelly Cunningham, San Diego Institute for Economic Research
NO: Balancing the needs of homeowners and residents is a difficult task. The Planning Commission proposal appears to be a reasonable compromise for both sides of the contentious issue, although reducing the number of short-term rentals by 50 percent and their lottery allocation is fraught with pitfalls. Regardless of the city council’s decision, the by-law will likely be challenged in court. San Diego citizens will have to vote to explicitly change the city charter.
Gary London, London Moeder Advisors
NO: This is a simple problem looking for a complicated solution. Why not just add a user fee to cover the costs of a dedicated policy, which would allow the city to respond to noise and parking offenses? These are the fundamental issues. Conversely, such a regulation would shoot us economically in the foot: short-term rentals have no negative impact on hotels. They attract more tourists. They provide income to owners. And reintroducing these homes into the full-time inventory would not put the brakes on solving our housing crisis.
Phil Blair, Workforce
YES: This seems like a reasonable compromise that will prevent family residential neighborhoods from turning into party places. It must also be reviewed annually. However, I care less about the number of homes open at Airbnb than the minimum duration. One or two nights minimum is an invitation to party. A five- to seven-day pledge is for families who want to vacation with the kids near the beach.
Alan Gin, University of San Diego
YES: Reducing the number of seasonal rentals would have two positive effects. Firstly, it would reduce some of the negative aspects of these rentals, like noise, less stable communities, etc. Second, it would make it possible to provide more long-term housing, which would help in terms of housing affordability. Any revenue that the city could lose from the public transport occupancy tax would be offset by revenue from the increased hotel occupancy rate when this is allowed again.
Bob Rauch, RA Rauch & Associates
YES: Short-term rentals have “negative effects”, in particular on the housing market, livability, social cohesion, security and equal opportunities for other providers of such housing. Fifty percent is a fair and reasonable number to authorize some short-term rentals since some property owners use this income to support themselves. This new approach would not allow for multiple units, which would create a hotel business model without any regulations.
Austin Neudecker, Weave Growth
YES: There is a difficult balance to find between not disrupting the neighborhoods and encouraging tourism and hosting large events. Tourism is one of the main economic engines of the city, funding our local restaurants, our activities, etc. The proposed regulation appears to be measured and appropriately targeted at full-time rental properties (although it does offer a random allocation). If they operate like hotels, it makes sense to be regulated in the same way. The existence of many full-time rentals also drives up housing and rental costs.
James Hamilton, UC San Diego
NOQ .: Where does this 50 percent quota come from, and who does it use to use a lottery to allocate it? If parties and noise are the problem, I say deal with them directly. Temporary rentals should require a license prohibiting parties of more than eight people or excessive noise from guests. Any violation of these conditions should result in a heavy fine for the owner and possible revocation of the license.
Chris Van Gorder, Scripps Health
YES: I believe the board should approve. Vacation rentals should be limited to certain areas so that buyers of a property in that same area know what they are getting into when they buy. Most neighborhoods want more continuity with their neighbors and most likely less parties and less noise. Both can work with a good plan, proper zoning bylaws, and their enforcement. The right of one owner to rent his property should not come at the expense of the right of another owner to enjoy his own.
Norm Miller, University of San Diego
NO: Property and free markets maven in me cringe at arbitrary supply constraints. This will certainly create inequalities and affect the legitimate real estate values of investors, retrospectively and unfairly. At the same time, I understand and sympathize with the negative externalities affecting permanent resident neighborhoods. It seems what’s fair is to limit short-term rentals of any kind to established tourist areas and tolerate certain rental time minimums in established neighborhoods, but without arbitrary percentage limits.
Jamie Moraga, IntelliSolutions
NO: This has been a controversial issue for several years. On the one hand, you understand that there must be regulations, especially for rentals that are constantly loud, have loud parties, or are destructive. But on the other hand, the city should not encroach on a landlord’s ability to rent out their property long or short term. Instead of restricting the number of rentals available, the city should focus more on law enforcement, as noted in the measure. This puts more emphasis on bad actors by fining them or revoking their licenses.
David Ely, San Diego State University
Do not participate this week.
Ray Major, SANDAG
NO: Not as currently written, but yes short term rentals should be regulated. San Diego residents who depend on rental income to make their mortgage payments should be allowed to rent under a reasonable set of guidelines. Foreign firms and investment firms that care little about the character of a community should be banned or severely limited in the number of units they can operate. Any allowance cap the city might impose would have to go to residents of San Diego first.
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