By Chris Jennewein
In advance of a July 16 City Council vote, Mayor Kevin Faulconer on Thursday proposed a combination of registration, fees and enforcement to regulate short-term rentals in San Diego.
The proposal would require all homeowners who rent or share to register with the city and pay both the standard transient occupancy tax and a new $2.76 per night affordable housing fee.
Rentals where the homeowner is not present would require a $949 annual license and be limited to six months of the year. In addition, a three-night minimum stay would be required for such rentals downtown and in the coastal zone.
A website described as a “one-stop shop for taxation and regulation” would be set up to make it easier to comply. The program would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, and be administered by a new 16-person department with enforcement powers.
“This is all about a compromise to get clear rules of the road and move this issue forward,” said Faulconer, who said the plan will “protect the quality of life in our communities.”
The City Council has considered the controversial issue on numerous occasions without reaching a decision. Faulconer predicted “some give and take” but argued that “this is a framework I believe is fair and think could work.”
At a press conference, Faulconer and city officials outlined the plan to address the growth in short-term rentals spawned by Airbnb and other online services. There are an estimated 3,600 short-term units throughout the city, and some neighbors have complained about over-crowding and disruptive guests.
The mayor’s approach is based on business licensing, rather than land use, and is expected to be self-funding from the licensing fees while providing $3 million a year for affordable housing programs. The plan divides rentals into two categories: home share, where the owner is present, and whole home, where the owner is not present.
Among the other key points:
- Home shares would be allowed 365 days a year with no minimum duration, but a maximum of one month
- Home shares would only be allowed in a primary residence
- Whole home rentals would be limited to a duration of six months at an owner’s primary residence, but there would be no limit at a secondary residence
- Homeowners would be restricted to two licenses for whole home rentals
- In Mission Beach, which has a history of vacation rentals, there would be no restrictions on the number of licenses
- A “good neighbor” policy would be posted at all rentals
- Home shares over five bedrooms would require a license and neighborhood use permit
- If a license is required, it would have to be referenced in online advertisements.
Elyse Lowe, director of land use and economic development, said the plan was developed in consultation with a broad spectrum of stakeholders, including community groups, individual homeowners, Airbnb and other rental sites.
“The regulations will provide for robust enforcement for bad actors,” said she said.
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