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Council to take up vacation rental rules Tuesday

vacation for rent sign
Posted at 5:01 PM, Feb 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-22 20:53:08-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- The city could be on the verge of finally tackling one of its most elusive issues - regulating short-term vacation rentals.

The San Diego City Council on Tuesday will consider a new ordinance that would cap the number of homes used primarily for vacation rentals, create a permitting program and increase nuisance enforcement.

"This ordinance does the job of balancing the needs of everyone involved in the STR (Short Term Rental) discussion,” Council President Jennifer Campbell said in a statement. “San Diegans will have more homes to buy or rent, neighborhoods will see a massive reduction in STRs in their communities with real enforcement to weed out bad actors."

The ordinance is the product of a compromise between Unite Here! Local 30 and Expedia, which owns HomeAway. The ordinance would cap the number of homes used primarily as vacation rentals to about 6,500, with the highest concentration in Mission Beach. That would account for just over one percent of the city's housing supply. The most recent estimate showed 16,000 homes used as primarily vacation rentals in San Diego.

The ordinance would also limit vacation rental hosts to one property in the city. If it passes, it could take effect Jan. 1, 2022.

"Neither side is going to be completely happy with the result, but there will be a result, there will be a clear path forward, there will be a foundation, and we'll know what the rules are moving forward," said Jonah Mechanic, president of Share San Diego, which supports the compromise.

But Gary Wonacott, part of the group Save San Diego Neighborhoods, urged the council to reject the proposal due to concerns over housing supply and a lack of infrastructure to handle the tourists.

"We should be looking for housing for residents and we're not going to lose anything, we don't think, if the folks who come to San Diego will keep coming to San Diego and stay in hotels," he said.

In 2018, the City Council approved an ordinance that would have limited vacation rentals to primary residences. But the council rescinded that ordinance after an Airbnb-led campaign gathered enough signatures to force a public vote.