San Diego City Council committee can’t decide on short-term rental regulations

On Friday, committee kicked the issue back to the full City Council

The challenge of what to do about short-term rentals in San Diego is an issue that’s still in limbo.

Five months ago, the City Council ordered staff to come up with recommendations on how to regulate short-term rentals in the city. Today, those recommendations were presented to the Smart Growth and Land Use Committee.

“So we’ve got 12,854 short-term rentals in San Diego,” said one man addressing the committee at a packed meeting held at the Jacobs Center. The feeling about how those short-term rentals should be governed by the city was clearly represented by what people in the audience wore. Like in previous hearings on the issue, the folks in red were either in favor of a complete ban or very strict regulation, the people in green said short-term rentals should be allowed with sensible regulation.

“We believe that we can fix this problem with enhanced enforcement and we believe that with all the TOT taxes that we pay, the city can certainly set aside some funding for that enforcement,” said Belinda Smith who founded a group called the Short Term Rental Alliance of San Diego.

But the folks wearing red say it’s not just a problem or rowdy people renting houses and disturbing neighbors. They said the ever-growing amount of short-term rentals in San Diego is robbing the housing market of houses to sell. They said if top companies either looking to locate or to expand in San Diego can’t find housing for their employees, they’ll go elsewhere.

David Austin gave an example of what’s happened in his neighborhood. “In Pacific Beach, there’s a home that was purchased by an LLC in El Paso, Texas and it’s being operated as a short-term rental… it affects parking, it affects, these things affect neighborhoods in all kinds of negative ways, so why should that be allowed?” Austin said.

But many of the “greens” in the audience said being able to rent out their homes is the only way they stay above water. “”It’s provided a much-needed source of income that if I lost, I’m not quite sure what I would do,” said Donna Duniver.

In the end, the committee voted unanimously to allow live-in residents to rent out one or two bedrooms of their homes. But the three proposed regulations presented to the committee on renting out whole homes, they kicked that can down the road, back to the full City Council.

City staff will now present draft ordinances to the Council based on the three proposals discussed. That should happen sometime in late summer or early fall.


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