Signs protest short-term rentals. Courtesy Save San Diego Neighborhoods

The San Diego City Council will tackle the hot-button issue of short-term rentals at its meeting Tuesday morning when it discusses City Council President Jennifer Campbell‘s compromise ordinance between rental companies and local property owners.

Campbell has received feedback from residents, community groups, organized labor and vacation rental platforms — not all of it positive.

“This ordinance is about two things: increasing the amount of homes available for San Diegans and decreasing quality-of-life problems for residents who live in neighborhoods with short-term rentals,” she said. “For the first time, San Diego is poised to pass regulations that will put a limit on the number of whole-home short-term rentals — reducing their number by two thirds – – while creating meaningful enforcement that will ensure the STRs that remain are good actors who follow the rules and regulations.”

Highlights of the compromise include:

  • Capping whole-home STRs at 1% of the city’s housing stock per the San Diego Planning Commission, which would equate to 5,400 Tuesday
  • Reducing whole-home STRs by 66% or more based on the City Auditor’s estimation that 16,000 STRs exist
  • Not limiting home-sharing STRs
  • Allowing part-time STR operators to obtain a license at lower annual fees to accommodate high visitor events such as Comic-Con, Pride or December Nights
  • Allowing STR owners a maximum of one license, per person
  • Creating a detailed Good Neighbor Policy along with strict enforcement guidelines, a fine structure for violations, and a license revocation standard

However, organizations such as Save San Diego Neighborhoods are far from pleased with the plan, which it calls a “multibillion dollar theft of San Diego housing, by legalizing short-term vacation rentals in residential neighborhoods citywide.”

That organization claims the ordinance is illegal on the basis of not being consistent with the city’s general plan and local coastal program. Save San Diego Neighborhoods has threatened litigation if the city council passes the ordinance Tuesday.

A campaign to recall Campbell became official Feb. 3 when a notice of intent to recall her was published in a legal newspaper. The crux of the petitioners’ argument against Campbell comes down largely to what they describe as a lenient attitude toward vacation rentals and being subservient to short- term rental platforms Expedia and Airbnb.

Recall backers have until June 3 to collect 14,421 signatures from registered voters in District 2, 15% of its 96,140 registered voters. The district consists of Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach, Point Loma, Mission Beach and part of Clairemont.

Campbell described the campaign as a waste of time and money.

“At a time when the city is facing a budget deficit, a small group of individuals are trying to force San Diego residents to spend a million dollars for a recall that might be held a few months before a regular election in 2022,” she said. “It is selfish and irresponsible.”

She said her proposed ordinance will increase the housing supply.

“San Diegans will have more homes to buy or rent, neighborhoods will see a massive reduction in STRs in their communities with real enforcement to weed out bad actors,” Campbell said. “This truly represents what San Diegans want to see: an end to the `wild west’ STR environment that has negatively impacted so many. I look forward to a spirited discussion about this ordinance at City Council.”

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