City Council Limits Short-Term Rentals to Owner’s Primary Residence

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Residents, for and against short-term rentals, speak at a marathon City Council meeting session Monday, July 16, 2018. Photo by Alexander Nguyen

The San Diego City Council on Monday voted down a proposal by Mayor Kevin Faulconer to regulate short-term rentals and passed a compromise measure championed by councilwomen Barbara Bry and Lorie Zapf.

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The new ordinance will limit short-term rentals by Airbnb, HomeAway and other services to an owner’s primary residence and one additional dwelling unit on the same parcel. The council also removed the exception for Mission Beach so the same rules apply across the city.

The votes were 6-3 against the mayor’s proposal and 6-3 for Bry and Zapf’s compromise measure.

Councilmen Mark Kersey, Chris Cate and Scott Sherman voted in favor of the mayor’s proposal while councilmembers Georgette Gómez, David Alvarez, Myrtle Cole, Chris Ward, Bry and Zapf voted against. Cate, Sherman and Alvarez voted against the compromise.

“I wasn’t elected to serve the interests of out-of-town investors, I was elected to serve the needs of my constituents, so I am pleased to support the mayor’s proposal with the Bry-Zapf amendments,” said Zapf. “This is not the perfect solution, but I have been working on this for the last four years and the City Council must provide some relief for the residents in my district.”

Short-term vacation rentals have vexed residents and city officials alike for several years. Until now, the City Council has been unable to pass a regulatory framework for home-sharing.

“I introduced my compromise proposal to help the City Council find enough common ground so they could pass comprehensive short-term rental laws, and with the additional amendments made today we’ve finally achieved that goal,” Faulconer said after the vote. “As I’ve said repeatedly, the most important thing is that we have an established set of rules that protects neighborhood quality of life through increased oversight and enforcement.”

Hundreds of residents, both for and against short-term rentals, packed the council chamber to voice their concerns.

Some argued that they need the added money from short-term rentals to supplement their income. Others said valuable homes are being gobbled up by investors and pushing out families who would otherwise live there and contribute to the community.

“Council’s decision today demonstrates a clear commitment to prioritizing the needs of our neighborhoods while maintaining opportunities for San Diegans to participate in — and benefit from — home-sharing and limited whole-home rentals,” said Councilman Chris Ward.

But HomeAway quickly criticized the vote as a limitation of private property rights and promised to “evaluate next steps” in reaction.

“HomeAway is extremely disappointed in the City Council’s decision to ignore the mayor’s compromise and effectively ban short-term rentals in the city of San Diego,” the company said in a statement. “This outcome will not only negatively impact the local economy but will deny many San Diegans of their private property rights.”

The City Council left rules proposed by Faulconer related to registration, good neighbor policy, enforcement and an affordable housing fee largely unchanged.

Under the rules, all short-term rental hosts will be required to:

  • Register with or be licensed annually by the city
  • Secure a Transient Occupancy Tax certificate
  • Pay the tax and an affordable housing impact fee monthly
  • Obtain a Neighborhood Use Permit for dwellings with four or more bedrooms
  • Advertise a short-term residential occupancy license number on all advertisements
  • Comply with a “good neighbor” policy, including posting local contact information on property
  • Collect and maintain detailed records on each rental for a period of three years

The rules would be enforced by the city’s Code Enforcement Division, Treasurer’s Office, City Attorney and San Diego Police.

From Staff and Wire Reports

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