Short-Term Vacation Rentals Stir Up Controversy

It was a packed house Wednesday morning as a San Diego City Council committee met to discuss potential regulation of short-term vacation rentals.

The City Council’s Smart Growth and Land Use Committee started its meeting at 8:30 a.m. The meeting – headed by Councilwoman Lorie Zapf, Councilman Todd Gloria and Councilman Scott Sherman – was expected to include extensive public comment from residents regarding regulations on vacation rental properties. The meeting would go on until noon, with the possibility of being continued.

One side argues short-term vacation rentals are destroying communities with rowdy temporary tenants. The other side argues that vacation rentals bring new business to different neighborhoods in San Diego and give homeowners another source of income.

Ultimately, the discussion on the topic will lead City staff to develop an ordinance that will outline a future for short-term vacation rentals within city limits.

Many vacation rentals – especially in San Diego’s beach communities – are on streets where permanent residents live too. Some neighbors complain that the rentals are filled above capacity, leading to noise and parking issues.

"We're at a tipping point, in Pacific Beach, where neighborhoods are being dotted with these short-term rentals and people are leaving, and this is exactly what we want to prevent," said Larry Emlaw, speaking against vacation rentals.

"For me, it's about people who don't want to stay at a hotel, who want to stay at a community in San Diego. It brings money and people and connects them to communities that otherwise wouldn't have that," said Jeffrey McGurn, speaking in favor of rentals.

Currently, if a homeowner wants to rent out a property as a vacation rental, the homeowner needs to obtain a certificate to pay a monthly room tax and an annual rental business fee.

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At a meeting Tuesday night, the Carlsbad City Council's effort to license, tax and restrict short-term vacation rentals in the community got a thumb’s down from many residents.

The Carlsbad council's plan is to identify and standardize the more than 400 short-term vacation rentals already illegally operating in the community.

The city council members were moved to change the proposed ordinance to prohibit rentals
east of Interstate 5. Visitors still have some 6,000 hotel rooms and time shares to choose from.

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