The city of San Diego hopes to use a licensed-based system to regulate short-term vacation rentals like Airbnb and VRBO, according to a proposal outlined by the mayor Thursday.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer's proposal would limit the number of nights a home could be rented out, put a cap on the number of licenses homeowners can acquire and charge rental companies taxes and fees for each rental, the mayor said during a news conference.
The goal is to regulate rentals that some opponents say cause headaches to neighbors and take away homes that could be used as affordable housing.
If passed by the city council on July 16, it would not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2020.
"This plan is fair, it is balanced and just as importantly it establishes a framework for clear rules of the road and will be backed up by considerable resources," Faulconer said.
It's a heated issue that has divided neighbors and at San Diego's City Hall.
In December, members of the San Diego City Council failed to adopt new rules following a marathon 10-hour meeting where more than 100 members of the public shared their opinions.
The key difference between the mayor's proposal and past proposals the city council has considered is that because it is a license, it will not be regulated by the land development code, said Elyse Lowe, Director of Land Use and Economic Development.
Under Mayor Kevin Faulconer's proposal, there are two types of hosts --"home share" hosts who stay with the guest during their visit and "whole home" hosts who are not at the residence during the visit.
A "whole home" host would only be allowed to request two short-term occupancy licenses for a fee of $949 each annually, except for in Mission Beach where there will be no cap. There will be no cap for "home share" hosts.
Guests must stay a minimum of three-nights in coastal communities and in downtown San Diego.
Proponents have said short-term rentals help support business in neighborhoods that have few, if any hotels, including South Park, Golden Hill, North Park, Clairemont and Mission Hills.
Critics of short-term rentals say they take away units that could be leased or owned while the region is in the middle of a housing crisis.
Local families are priced out of homes because landlords can sell their properties for more to investors who convert those homes to short-term rentals.
As a solution, the mayor's proposal would charge rental companies an affordable housing impact fee of $2.76 a night.
The city estimates that these fees combined with licensing fees will generate the city $3 million a year for affordable housing projects.
Critics also say the transient residency removes any sense of community in the neighborhoods where the rentals are located.
The Mayor's proposal would establish a "good-neighbor" policy and homeowners would be required to be available within one hour, either over the phone or in person, if any problem should arise.
A "Proactive Team" made up of San Diego Police Department officers and Code Compliance officers will respond to issues that arrive, said San Diego Police Department Assistant Chief Albert Guaderrama.
In Pacific Beach and Mission Bay alone, there are 3,100 short-term vacation homes available for lease.
In March 2015, Pacific Beach Planning Group voted 10-1 to recommend a permit process for short-term vacation rentals in San Diego.
In March 2017, City Attorney Mara Elliott said short-term rentals are not legal in single-family residential zones under the city’s current codes.
The city was awaiting regulatory guidance from the city council before taking any action to enforce the law.
The company that owns the vacation rental platforms VRBO and HomeAway said its officials look forward to reviewing the mayor's proposal.
"For generations, whole-home vacation rentals have played an important role for San Diego homeowners and for families visiting the city," Expedia Group said in a written statement. "We applaud Mayor Faulconer and city staff on their efforts to craft a fair and effective policy that addresses community concerns and recognizes San Diego’s vibrant vacation rental community."