San Diego

Councilmembers Detail Counter-Proposal to Regulate Short Term Vacation Rentals

Both of the current proposals will be considered by the San Diego City Council next Monday

As San Diego continues to debate how to handle short-term vacation rentals, two city councilmembers offered a counter-solution Friday to a plan proposed by the mayor last month.

Councilmembers Barbary Bry and Lorie Zapf, who represents coastal communities from Point Loma to Pacific Beach, held a press conference Friday to announce their proposal's details. 

Unlike Mayor Kevin Faulconer's proposal, the council members' proposal would not limit the number of days a homeowner could "house share," or rent out their home while remaining on the property. 

"My proposal is simple, I believe in unlimited home sharing in your primary residence as long as you are on site to supervise," Bry said.

Faulconer's plan would set a cap of six months for house share renters. 

The goal of both proposals is to regulate rentals from companies like Airbnb and VRBO that some opponents say cause headaches to neighbors and take away homes that could be used as affordable housing.

Bry specifically attacked Airbnb for "allowing investors to snap up homes in beautiful neighborhoods and turning them into mini-hotels."

In Pacific Beach and Mission Bay alone, there are 3,100 short-term vacation homes available for lease. 

Denise Freedman, a Crown Point resident, said there are now six short-term rentals in a row on her street, and it came at quite a cost to the community.

"In every one of those homes, there have been families that have been part of our community evicted to make room for a short-term vacation rental," she said.

Cy Pilkington rents out his home in the beach area, however, said the concerns are overblown. 

"Less than one percent of the populations of STVRs are abusers," he said. "And it's a shame that we have to develop all these rules and guidelines to curtail something that so positive to a community just because we have one percent that are creating issues."

In December 2017, 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.

Both of the current proposals will be considered by the San Diego City Council next Monday. If either passes, the regulations would not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2020. 

The mayor's proposal, which was detailed on June 14, would use a licensed-based system.

It would define 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.

Anyone who operates a short-term rental would need to register with the city, pay local tourism taxes and charge a nightly fee of $2.76 that would go towards affordable housing. 

Bry said the mayor's plan is not enforceable. 

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."

Airbnb said it will continue to work with the city on reasonable regulations and said many residents don't have a problem with short-term rentals.

"The vast majority of San Diegans don't see any issue with short-term rentals, so it's no surprise that there aren't any complaints," the company said in a statement.

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