Beach community residents are signaling victory after the San Diego City Council voted to put new regulations on short-term vacation rentals.
Residents like Liz Garcia say they were being overrun with short-term rentals that brought along disruptive and disrespectful temporary tenants.
Garcia grew up in Crown Point and she and her husband now raise their two girls there. Recently, the property next to their home became a short-term rental.
“You know, there'll be three or four families over there playing Yahtzee until midnight,” Garcia said.
Bothersome short-term neighbors are a frequent annoyance for the Garcias, leaving one to imagine how the family felt when the City Council voted 6 to 4 approve restrictions proposed by Mayor Kevin Faulconer.
Under the plan, residents may be issued a license to operate a short-term rental for their primary residence and one additional license for a dwelling unit on the same parcel as the host's primary residence, ending the practice of out-of-town property owners using the short-term rental industry to profit from homes in San Diego.
Regulations also require operators to register with the city, secure a Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) certificate, obtain a Neighborhood Use Permit for dwelling with four or more bedrooms and comply with Good Neighbor policy, including posting local contact information on the property being rented.
Anyone who operates a short-term rental must pay local tourism taxes and charge a nightly fee of $2.76 that would go towards affordable housing.
“We’re cautiously excited,” Garcia said.
Mission Beach, which has been a vacation rental area for years, was grandfathered out.
The city told NBC 7 that neighbors will have a 24-hour hotline they can call if there are problems. Property owners will get a warning, then a penalty and then could face having their permit revoked if they or tenants commit multiple violations.
Garcia and her husband think people will still try to get around the new laws, but they and their neighbors say they are used to policing these properties.
But they’re hopeful the new rules will allow more people to make Pacific Beach their home.
“Hopefully some homes will be opening up and more families will be able to move in,” Liz said.
Donald Wilson, whose family bought their home on Jewell back in 1945, said he is happy about the changes when it comes to short-term rentals near his home.
He told NBC 7 there was a stream of parties and beer bottles in the streets pointing to one former rental.
“This house was really bad before. We had many nights when people were drunk and laying on the grass. It gets out of hand.”
Wilson thinks the legislation will help restore his community.
“As more houses are grabbed by these people for the short-term rentals, there’s less houses for people to buy,” he said.
But not all beach community residents are happy about the new rules. Some say they are preparing to battle in court.
Belinda Smith of the Short Term Rental Alliance of San Diego says she’s heard from property owners who are poised to take legal action.
“I know that there are people so angry they want to sue. I've received emails from people saying ‘Where can I contribute to funding so I can fight this?” said Smith.