Diego OKs regulations that could cut number of short-term
vacation rentals by up to 30%
Weisburg, February 23, 2020
ordinance would cap Airbnb-style rentals at 1 percent of citys
housing stock, except in Mission Beach where a more generous
allocation of listings will be permitted.
years of failed attempts to regulate the proliferation of
Airbnb-style rentals, the San Diego City Council on Tuesday
endorsed a yearly cap that could cut the volume of more active
vacation rentals by as much as 30 percent.
new regulations, which still need a second vote of the council
before becoming law, grew out of a compromise plan that won
the support of Airbnb and other large home-sharing platforms,
as well as the local hotel workers union. Shepherded by Council
President Jennifer Campbell, whose district includes several
of the citys beach communities, the regulatory plan
calls for an overall cap on the number of whole-home rentals
that are available for more than 20 days in a year.
all but Mission Beach, such rentals will be capped at 1 percent
of the citys more than 540,000 housing units, or about
5,400. In Mission Beach, which has a long history of vacation
rentals that predates the rise of online home-sharing platforms,
the allocation would be much more generous, limited to 30
percent of the communitys total dwelling units, or about
one license will be allowed per individual, and the regulations
will not take effect until July 1 of 2022 to give the city
time to transition to the new licensing system that will require
the hiring of additional personnel.
Diegos past efforts to regulate short-term rentals have
ended in failure, Campbell said. Our neighborhoods
have suffered from this failure, but we have learned from
that failure and now have a compromise that is the best way
who is facing a recall campaign launched in part by critics
who believe short-term rentals should not be legalized, ticked
off the ordinances benefits, among them a cap
on uncontrolled whole-home rentals, strong regulation
and enforcement, and, she added, bad actors will
lose their licenses.
Todd Gloria, noting the milestone moment, released a statement
affirming his commitment to implementing and enforcing the
new regulations, which still need the blessing of the California
Coastal Commission as they relate to the citys beach-area
applaud the City Council for taking the first step toward
finally putting common-sense regulations of short-term vacation
rentals on the books, he said. I want to thank
Council President Campbell for her leadership and building
consensus on an issue that previous San Diego officials were
unwilling or unable to resolve.
Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott, who had previously opined
that San Diegos municipal code does not allow short-term
vacation rentals, tweeted her praise of the councils
to the City Council and the leadership of Council President
@CMJenCampbell, San Diego is finally on its way to having
enforceable short term rental regulations, her tweet
said. Its been a long time coming and its
what neighborhoods deserve.
as the contentious issue of vacation rentals has divided the
city in past public hearings, it did so again on Tuesday,
as more than 130 people addressed the council during a nearly
six-hour virtual session. While the compromise plan is notable
for its support among many longtime home-sharing operators,
a number of them characterized as unfair a lottery system
that would be used for distributing licenses. Existing, responsible
operators who have paid their transient occupancy taxes should
be favored, they argued.
support Council President Campbells good neighbor STR
ordinance, not because its a big win for local managers
or hosts but because its a fair compromise that takes
into consideration concerns of both sides of this very vigorous
debate, said Jonah Mechanic, owner of SeaBreeze Vacation
Rentals and leader of a coalition of vacation rental operators.
Also important to us is that we figure out a way to
prioritize responsible short-term rental owners who have paid
their taxes, dont have outstanding violations and are
being good actors so they can continue to operate and earn
income to provide for their families.
that end, the council agreed to return in October to consider
some kind of lottery system that would prioritize good
actor hosts who have been paying required taxes and
have operated responsibly.
council action comes 2 1/2 years after Airbnb and Expedia,
the parent company of HomeAway and VRBO, successfully mounted
a referendum drive that killed far tougher restrictions approved
by the council that would have barred the rental of second
homes for short-term stays. The citys effort to gain
control over the mushrooming growth in home-sharing has been
going on for at least five years, as proponents and critics
squared off in multiple hours-long hearings.
have argued that vacation rentals provide them much-needed
revenue to supplement their incomes, while opponents have
complained that short-term renters have overrun their once-peaceful
neighborhoods and turned homes into unruly party houses.
Campbell proposal was supported by eight of the nine council
members, with Councilman Joe LaCava the lone dissenting vote.
LaCava, who said he remained unwavering in his
stance that short-term rentals should be prohibited, offered
up suggestions for strengthening the proposed ordinance. He
failed, however, to win support for his suggested amendments,
including a provision that would have restricted licenses
to a maximum six years. He also sought approval of an affordable
housing fee that Campbell rejected as an amendment to her
a few other council members, he also pressed for stronger
wording designed to ensure accountability by the home-sharing
platforms in those instances where they continue to allow
unregulated rentals on their sites.
San Diego Neighborhoods, which has long insisted that short-term
rentals should be outlawed, did not make a presentation at
Tuesdays hearing but had sent a letter to the council
this week from its attorney who argued that the Campbell ordinance
was inconsistent with the citys General Plan and the
state Coastal Act.
how far-reaching an impact the ordinance will have on the
future volume of short-term rentals remains open to debate
given the difficulty in calculating just how many of the more
frequently listed whole-home rentals were operating before
the pandemic dramatically curbed travel.
detailed report by the citys Independent Budget Analyst
analyzed multiple sources of home-sharing data as of 2019
and concluded that the proposed cap could mean anywhere from
1,650 to nearly 2,800 fewer whole-home rental listings that
would be allowed to operate more than 20 days out of the year.
That translates to about a 20 percent to 30 percent reduction
in such rentals that would be subject to the cap, estimates
fiscal policy analyst Baku Patel, who helped draft the Independent
Budget Analysts report.
all home-sharing activity will be limited by the new regulations.
The cap would not apply to those hosts whether theyre
an owner or a tenant who rent out a home for no more
than 20 days out of the year. Similarly, there would be no
limits for individuals who rent out a room or two in their
home while they are residing there.
to the new ordinance is stepped-up enforcement aimed at weeding
out problematic hosts who violate public nuisance regulations.
Campbells office proposes hiring four code enforcement
officers whose salaries would presumably be funded through
still undetermined licensing fees.
officials expect to return to the council later this year
with a set of proposed fees. An early version of Campbells
proposal had suggested a fee range of as little as $50 for
someone renting out his or her home for less than 20 days
a year to $1,000 for hosts renting out their entire homes
for more than 20 days a year.
city treasurers office estimates an initial start-up
cost of $1.7 million, plus ongoing costs of $2.4 million to
administer the licensing effort.