San Diego short-term rental hosts get a reprieve — citywide licensing cap not likely until after summer


The San Diego City Council agreed on Tuesday to delay the start of short-term rental regulations until the end of this year, pending the outcome of a review required by the California Coastal Commission.

At stake is an already approved citywide cap on what will be coveted licenses allowing hosts to rent out their homes and apartments for short-term stays advertised on popular home-sharing platforms like Airbnb and VRBO. The city’s new regulations, approved by council last April, were due to come into force on July 1, but according to action taken on Tuesday, the new implementation date will come nine months after the Coast Commission certifies the new legislation.

The commission, which is due to weigh in on new rental rules in coastal San Diego, is due to consider the matter in March. If the commission accepted the regulations at this meeting, the effective date could not be later than December of this year.

“I want to assure citizens that this delay will actually make the short-term vacation rental ordinance a success,” said council member Jennifer Campbell, whose office revived the effort a few years ago. aimed at formally regulating short-term stays in people’s homes. . “I know that people have been waiting for many years for these regulations to become law and I understand their impatience. So I want you to know that I remain as committed as always to seeing this through to completion. This amendment will give staff the opportunity to scaling up services and will provide operators with a more realistic window of opportunity to comply with regulations.

The council vote was 8 to 1, with council member Joe La Cava opposed. He had opposed the ordinance when he appeared before council last spring, arguing that short-term rentals should not be legalized.

As well as awaiting action from the Coastal Commission, city staff had said they were concerned about launching a new program so close to the approaching summer season, when vacationers will generally have booked their rentals. months in advance.

Without that time frame, vacation rental hosts would not know in advance whether they have licenses, which will be issued through a lottery system, the city treasurer’s office explained.

San Diego’s new ordinance will cap whole-home rentals citywide at 1% of the city’s more than 540,000 homes, or about 5,400. An exception was made for Mission Beach, which has a long history of rentals vacation. In this community, the allocation is more generous, with licenses limited to 30% of the total number of housing units in the community, or approximately 1,100.

Only one permit will be authorized for individuals renting their entire residence for more than 20 days. An unlimited number of licenses will be allowed for vacation rentals of less than 20 days per year or for colocation operations where a host rents a room or two.

While short-term rental hosts have welcomed the postponement of licenses in light of the approaching summer season, critics remain skeptical that the city’s new regulations will make a difference in preserving the residential character of single-family neighborhoods. .

“This vacation rental ordinance has been doomed from the start,” said Matt Valenti, renter and Save San Diego Neighborhoods member, who argues that vacation rentals should be banned in residential neighborhoods. “Our city already can’t enforce the most basic quality of life issues, like noise complaints. He will never be able to properly enforce this overly complicated program, causing more and more affordable rental housing to be lost throughout San Diego.

Prior to the yet-unspecified effective date of the ordinance, city staff will hold a lottery to determine who will get a two-year license to legally operate vacation rentals. Under the proposed lottery system, the highest priority will be given to long-standing rental operators who have had no code violations associated with their units in the past two years. Points will be awarded on a weighted scale that would not necessarily guarantee a license for those people, but the system will improve the likelihood of “good actors” getting a license, according to the city treasurer’s office.

To fund the administration and enforcement of vacation rental regulations, a license and application fee will be levied, ranging from $100 for a two-year license for hosts who rent their properties less than 20 days per year to $1,000 for those who rent entire homes for more than 20 days per year.

Total administration and enforcement costs over a two-year period are estimated at $8.1 million, which includes over $1.2 million in one-time costs for licensing software, phone system, the purchase of three new municipal vehicles for the application and the hiring of new personnel. In all, the city is proposing to add 15 positions, including nine in the area of ​​code enforcement.


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