Should San Diego approve limits on the number of short-term vacation rentals?
The San Diego Planning Commission this week approved a plan to cut short-term rentals by 50%.
It still needs to be approved by city council, but the plan marked an important step in the city’s efforts to reach an agreement on Airbnb-style rentals.
The decision was based on residents complaining for years about noisy vacation rentals next to their homes. However, vacation rentals are also a major source of revenue for the city through transit occupancy taxes.
Q: Should the 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 dwellings, instead of allowing vacation rentals. Beyond the disruption that short-term rentals bring with a revolving door of strangers, they destabilize neighborhoods and reduce the supply of needed permanent housing. San Diego hotels offer a range of accommodations – from single rooms to residential mini suites – all located in the city’s most desirable resort locations. 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 damages that may be imposed on landlords with disruptive behavior. These landlords also claim that vacation rentals are converting residential zoning to commercial zoning, which jeopardizes their real estate investments. While the city may lose vacation rental taxes, those losses are expected to be offset by an increase in hotel bookings. A 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 owners and residents is a difficult task. The Planning Commission’s proposal appears to be a reasonable compromise for both sides of the contentious issue, although reducing the number of short-term rentals by 50% and allocating them by lottery is fraught with pitfalls. Whatever city council decides, the bylaw 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 in search of a complicated solution. Why not just add user fees to cover the costs of dedicated policing, which would allow the city to respond to noise and parking violations? These are the fundamental problems. Conversely, such regulations would economically be a bullet in the foot: short-term rentals do not negatively impact hotels. They attract more tourists. They provide income to the owners. And bringing those homes back into full-time inventory wouldn’t prevent our housing crisis from being solved.
Phil Blair, Manpower
YES: This seems like a reasonable compromise that will prevent residential family quarters from turning into party spots. It must also be reviewed annually. I care less about the number of houses open to Airbnb, however, than about the minimum length. A minimum of one or two nights is an invitation to party. A five- to seven-day engagement is for families who want to vacation with the kids near the beach.
Alan Gin, University of San Diego
YES: Reducing the number of short-term vacation rentals would have two positive results. First, it would reduce some of the negative aspects of these rentals, such as noise, less stable communities, etc. Second, it would make more long-term housing available, which would help make housing affordable. Any revenue the city may lose from the transit occupancy tax would be offset by revenue from increased hotel occupancy when this is permitted again.
Bob Rauch, RA Rauch & Associates
YES: Short-term rentals have “negative effects”, notably on the housing market, livability, social cohesion, security and a level playing field for other providers of such accommodation. Fifty percent is a fair and reasonable number to allow for some short-term rentals since some property owners use this income to support themselves. This new approach would not allow multiple units, which would create a hotel business model without any regulation.
Austin Neudecker, Weave Growth
YES: There is a difficult balance to strike between not disrupting neighborhoods and encouraging tourism and hosting large events. Tourism is one of the city’s biggest economic drivers, funding our local restaurants, activities, and more. The proposed regulations appear appropriately measured and targeted to full-time rental properties (although they propose random distribution). If they operate like hotels, it makes sense to be regulated the same way. The existence of many full-time rentals also drives up housing and rental costs.
James Hamilton, UC San Diego
NO: Where does this 50% quota come from, and who is using a lottery to allocate it? If parties and noise are the problem, I say address them directly. Temporary rentals must require a license that prohibits parties of more than eight people or excessive noise from guests. Any violation of these conditions should result in a large fine for the owner and possible revocation of the license.
Chris Van Gorder, Scripps Health
YES: I think the board should approve. Vacation rentals should be restricted to certain areas so that buyers of property in that same area understand what they are getting into when they buy. Most neighborhoods want more continuity with their neighbors and most likely fewer parties and less noise. Both can work with a good plan, proper zoning regulations and enforcement. One owner’s right to rent his property should not come at the expense of another owner’s right to enjoy his own in peace.
Norm Miller, University of San Diego
NO: The real estate and free market expert in me cringes at arbitrary supply constraints. This will certainly create inequalities and affect the real estate values of legitimate investors retrospectively and unfairly. At the same time, I understand and sympathize with the negative externalities affecting permanent resident neighborhoods. It seems that what is fair is to limit short-term rentals of any kind to established tourist areas and to tolerate certain rental time minimums in established neighborhoods, but without arbitrary percentage limits.
Jamie Moraga, IntelliSolutions
NO: This has been a contentious 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 impinge on a landlord’s ability to rent their property long-term or short-term. Instead of restricting the number of rentals available, the city should focus more on enforcement, as stated in the measure. This places 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 within a reasonable set of guidelines. Businesses and out-of-state investment firms that care little for the character of a community should be banned or severely limited in the number of units they can operate. Any allowance caps the city might impose should first go to San Diego residents.
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