San Diego

Short-Term Vacation Rentals Provoke Conflict at La Jolla Town Hall Meeting

Both supporters and detractors of short-term rentals shared their concerns

Neighbors sparred over a potential ban on short-term vacation rentals Wednesday night, during a town hall meeting at the La Jolla Community Center.

Some residents voiced concerns the community of Pacific Beach may break down if the rentals continue to expand. Others argued banning short term rentals would exclude lots of people from visiting San Diego.

Councilwoman Barbara Bry and her staff were on-hand at the town hall, diligently jotting down notes on people's thoughts regarding short-term rentals.

One resident, Julie Richardson, spoke about her experience renting out her home. The rental allowed her to pay her family's college tuition.

“We’re using the money to save up for a college fund for our grandkids and we put one of our kids through college," said Richardson.

Currently, short-term rentals are illegal in San Diego, according to the city attorney. However, the City is awaiting regulatory guidance from the City Council before taking any action to enforce the law.

Councilwoman Bry proposed unlimited days for owner-supervised home sharing. She would also limit whole-house rentals to 90 days per year and charge a $100 annual fee for home owners renting out their space.

“Use that money to pay for 24 hour a day enforcement,” said Bry. “We need to have fines. We can also have a three strikes law.”

That's good news for residents concerned about the safety threats posed by a constantly rotating circle of vacation renters frequenting their neighborhood.

But Michael Herndon, the head of CureSTR, said the 90-day limit won't help address the estimated 14,000 short-term rental homes. This leaves fewer properties available for long-term renters.

“Housing stock is taken up in these poor areas and those people are displaced so we are seeing people pushed out in a cascading effect," said Herndon.

"This issue of affordable housing and [the] high price of real estate in Southern California has been around a long time before short-term rentals were prevalent,” said Jonah Mechanic, who rents out one of his homes and manages multiple short-term rental properties.

The 90-day rental period is a concern on both sides.

Those against short-term rentals said that could still add up to renters in their neighborhood almost every weekend of the year if a home is rented out twice a week for 45 weeks.

Supporters for short-term rentals called the 90-day number arbitrary. They said common sense regulation--not rental period restrictions--are needed.

The San Diego City Council is scheduled to vote on the rental ordinance proposals in October.

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