San Diego

Short Term Vacation Rental Regulation Debate at Standstill

The debate on how to best move forward with San Diego’s countless short term vacation rentals appears to have come to a standstill.

This time last year San Diegans were inundated with dueling short term rental news conferences, signature gathering, and accusations of wrongdoing. Last October the San Diego City Council voted to rescind regulations it had approved months.

Now in 2019, it appears little progress had been made in the regulation or deregulation of short term vacation rentals.

Some residents said they cared strongly about the issue and were frustrated with the city’s lack of action.

“A lot of our customers come from the short term property rentals," said Matt Gardner, owner of a Mission Beach business offering beachgoers rental bikes, skateboards and other beach equipment. "Where we are now, it's unfortunately at kind of a standstill.”

Gardner is also the president of the Mission Beach Town Council.

“I think both sides are willing to talk and for political reasons many people that would normally take the front line on this at the City Council have since decided to hold this in their back pocket,” Gardner told NBC 7.

The City Council doesn't appear to have any new ordinances ready to look at, and a state bill proposing some regulation locally was pulled this summer after passing the assembly.

Gardner said he believes a compromise is still possible.

“We want to build a set of rules that protect people and neighborhoods away from the bad things that short term rentals can do, while also allowing the good side of short terms rentals to thrive as well,” Gardner said.

However, Ronan Gray, President of Save San Diego Neighborhoods still wants what his organization has wanted for years: for the city to simply enforce a ban on short term rentals in residential areas.

“I don’t think a compromise is possible,” Gray said.

“We're losing neighbors, people who want to rent in our neighborhood, who have kids in our local school. I don't want to just roll over and watch my neighborhood be taken over by commercial interests,” he added.

But one thing the two men do agree on is they want action from city hall.

“It's very frustrating, because we all want regulation,” Gardner said. “This issue would be a launch pad for the general idea of the common problems we have in San Diego where we have an issue, people are divided, we don't talk we just duke it out, and nobody really wins in that case.”

For now, no long term solutions to the short term rental debate are on the horizon.

Though the beach gear rental owner, Gardner, wondered if there might be a ballot measure in 2020.

San Diego City Councilmember and mayoral candidate Barbara Bry's office said she's committed to fighting short term rentals.

Councilmember Jennifer Campbell, who represents much of the city's beach communities, said she has met with many stakeholders over the past few months and is looking to developing a plan as soon as possible.

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