San Diego

Short Term Rental Rules Still a Long Term Battle

Update: Council President Myrtle Cole has since postponed the hearing to an unspecified later date. 

A showdown over short-term vacation rentals is headed for San Diego's City Council.

City planners will offer a range of three ordinances – with legal questions surrounding another one proposed by four of nine Council members.

Community activists say the practice is detrimental to quiet, clean and even safe neighborhoods.

Market studies are showing it's quite an economic engine for renters and businesses.

"In total, short-term rentals generate more than $500 million a year in economic activity in the city," said market analyst Alan Nevin. "And this is money that stays here in the city and supports local jobs."

But the battle – which has been underway for more than two years -- raises issues of property rights versus concerns about "mini-hotels."

The proposal that observers think is most likely to reach a consensus has been questioned on several fronts by City Attorney Mara Elliott.

Examples include fees for enforcing affordable rental regulations, and capping rentals to keep investors from driving the market with so-called "mini-hotels".

One Council member would limit rentals to entire primary residences, for up to 90 days a year.

Four Council members suggest allowing short-term rentals of up to three properties, with a three-night minimum stay in coastal areas.

Rental activists say it's essential that police or city enforcement officers be delegated to handle noise, trash, and parking problems.

"There's nothing out there that's ever proven that a short-term renter is a bad neighbor and a long-term renter or owner is a bad neighbor," said La Jolla resident Jonah Mechanic. "In fact, on the contrary, I'm sure all of us have had experiences of living next to bad neighbors that are owners or long-term renters."

The regulations go before the City Council for review on Monday. A final decision is not expected.

Meantime, the Del Mar City Council has approved rental rules with a seven-day minimum stay for up to 28 days a year in residentially zoned areas.

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