State Bill Banning Airbnb Rental of Second Homes in San Diego County Coastal Communities Dropped

In a stunning move on Wednesday, a state bill that would have sharply curtailed short-term home rentals in San Diego County’s coastal communities was held up for a year by its sponsor, even as the legislation had authorized the California Assembly and several Senate committees.

The decision by Rep. Tasha Boerner Horvath, D-Encinitas, came amid intense lobbying in Sacramento by short-term rental heavyweights Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO, who claimed that The legislation would have had a devastating impact on the region’s tourism economy and would have unfairly barred second home owners from renting out their properties for short stays.

The bill had just received approval from the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee on Tuesday and was on Wednesday’s agenda of the Government and Finance Committee when it was abruptly withdrawn by Boerner Horvath.

“I made the decision to take the time to work on this throughout next year,” Boerner Horvath said on Wednesday. “This is not the end of the process but the beginning. We were nearing the end of the session and still making changes to the bill, so are you rushing those changes or is it better to take more time? It’s not about a quick win, it’s about having a strong policy.

Boerner Horvath, who had begun to be pushed back by some lawmakers in recent days, had already agreed to cut the duration of his bill from five to three years, after which a study would be undertaken to determine whether the stricter controls had an impact. real on stemming the loss of coastal housing.

While the proliferation of short-term rentals has drawn heavy criticism from landlords in single-family neighborhoods for years, Boerner Horvath said his primary motivation for drafting the bill was to preserve long-term housing, which , she said, was eroding as the number of homes are converted to short-term rentals.

By converting Assembly Bill 1731 into what is known as a two-year bill, Boerner Horvath is able to revive it next year with possible amendments without having to start the entire process over again. process.

Airbnb, which has fought the bill and encouraged its hosts and others to speak out against AB 1731, applauded the bill’s delay this year.

“Clearly the bill did not pass because it is an issue that needs to be addressed at the local level and impacts the people of San Diegan, their ability to earn an income, the city’s economy and access to the coast for guests,” Airbnb said in a statement Wednesday. “If the bill resurfaces, we will address it at that time.”

The bill specifically targeted short-term rental platforms by not allowing them to book residential properties for more than 30 days a year each, unless the full-time resident is present. Year-round rentals would have been allowed for traditional flatshare in which residents rent a spare bedroom or granny’s apartment on their property. The effect of the legislation was to ban short-term rentals of second homes and investor properties listed on home-sharing platforms, a provision that would have had a huge impact on coastal communities like Mission Beach, which has long been a magnet for vacation rentals.

The bill, if successful, would have had the greatest impact in the city of San Diego, where there are no regulations in place specifically governing home rentals for stays of less than 30 days at a time.

“This is disappointing news, and I don’t see it coming back next year for the same reasons it didn’t this year,” said longtime Mission Beach resident Gary Wonacott, who has is pushing for stricter regulation and enforcement in beaches, where the highest number of rentals is concentrated. “I believe Airbnb pressed the table. I think this bill was a win-win for the people of San Diego because it would have restored housing – although we don’t know how much – and I think it would have had a chilling effect on investors.

Last year, the San Diego City Council came close to regulating vacation rentals when it agreed to limit short-term stays to the primary residence only and no more than six months per year. The council, however, had to reverse its action following a successful effort led by Airbnb to hold a referendum on the ballot.

While AB 1731 was originally designed to apply to all coastal areas of California, Boerner Horvath later changed the legislation to cover only the coastal area of ​​San Diego County, where the cities of Coronado in Carlsbad have a wide variety of regulations, ranging from outright prohibitions to more permissive rules. The bill would have allowed cities to adopt or retain regulations that were more restrictive than his bill.

Opponents of the legislation had hoped to enlist the California Coastal Commission in the fight against the bill given the agency’s strong support for vacation rentals as a way to provide affordable access to the coast. The commission has in fact warned local jurisdictions on several occasions against too much restriction in the regulation of these rentals. But in the face of calls from the public to take a stand against AB 1731, the commission made it clear that it would remain neutral.

“Cities and counties across the state of California are grappling with the short-term rental phenomenon in a variety of ways and this is not a one-size-fits-all solution,” said Coastal Commissioner Aaron Peskin, a member of the Board of Supervisors. from San Francisco. said last month at a hearing where dozens of vacation rental hosts showed up to protest the bill. “I’m aware that Airbnb has encouraged people to come here asking us to vote against this bill. We can’t do that because we’re not in the State Assembly. It should play out in the halls of the Capitol Building in Sacramento and not at Coastal Commission meetings.

State Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, during Tuesday’s Natural Resources Committee hearing raised questions about the bill’s potential conflicts with Coast Commission policy favoring short-term rentals. term. He also questioned whether the legislation would really make a significant difference to long-term housing supply.

“Are you really solving a problem?” he asked Boerner Horvath. “Would these (rentals) be available to people if they weren’t short-term rentals?” We all talk about housing, but what are you really affecting, how many lives are affected in the county? It seems to me that you have to demonstrate convincingly that your policy translates into better housing policies. »

In coastal cities in San Diego County, there have been as many as 14,000 homes listed as short-term rentals on the Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO platforms.

Boerner Horvath’s bill included what she called an “opt-out” mechanism that would have allowed cities to escape stricter short-term rental regulations by creating a “residential tourist” zone where such rentals would be permitted. Critics of the legislation, however, complained that creating a new zone would have been a cumbersome and time-consuming process.

Boerner Horvath said on Wednesday that a potential amendment to his bill would further clarify the special tourist area.

Meanwhile, this fall, the San Diego City Council will again attempt to get rules on the books to bring order to the local home-sharing market. Council members Barbara Bry and Jennifer Campbell, whose districts include many coastal communities, will likely lead the effort.

“We need a San Diego-friendly solution when it comes to short-term vacation rentals,” said Campbell, whose district includes Mission and Pacific Beach. “We are continuing our conversations with stakeholders on this issue and hopefully we can finally reach a real resolution this fall.”

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