San Diego hearing on Airbnb rental rules set for December
Long-stalled efforts to regulate San Diego’s growing volume of short-term rentals will be revived next month when the City Council will consider multiple proposals.
The council had scheduled a special hearing more than a week ago to review a number of proposed regulations governing the operation of vacation rentals but the meeting was abruptly canceled in the wake of a city attorney memo that raised numerous legal questions about some of the proposals.
The rescheduled hearing has been set for 10 a.m. Dec. 12 in Golden Hall, which has the space to accommodate the hundreds of people expected to turn out for the discussion.
Although city planning staff had drafted three different options for how to manage the explosion of whole-home rentals popularized on platforms like Airbnb, individual council members have also offered up proposals of their own.
Just days before the planned hearing, though, City Attorney Mara Elliott released an analysis that raised legal questions about some of the provisions in the council proposals.
Councilwoman Barbara Bry, whose district includes the La Jolla area, has offered up a relatively restrictive measure that would permit homeowners to only rent out only their primary residences on a short-term basis and for no more than 90 days a year.
Meanwhile, Councilmembers Scot Sherman, David Alvarez, Chris Ward and Mark Kersey put out a joint proposal that would allow owners to rent out up to three properties on a short-term basis. In addition, they recommended imposing a three-night minimum stay for rentals in San Diego’s coastal areas and historic districts.
In a memo, Elliott concluded that some of the provisions in both proposals raise questions of “equal protection” by imposing different regulations for different types of short-term rental hosts. She also noted that some of the fees recommended for generating revenues to help enforce new rental regulations could be interpreted as taxes and would require voter approval.
When the council meets Dec. 12, it is expected that some of the council members’ suggestions will be incorporated into the three options already drafted by city staff, said Christina Chadwick, a spokeswoman for Mayor Kevin Faulconer.
“We believe this will make it easier for the City Council to come to a conclusion,” she said. “Once the City Council has taken an action on the land use regulations, staff will evaluate what further actions may be necessary to begin processing permits and enforcing the regulations.”
San Diego’s elected leaders have been trying to reach agreement for more than 2½ years on a plan for regulating short-term rentals, an issue that has sharply divided the city and the council.
Elliott earlier this year released a memo concluding that short-term vacation rentals are illegal because they not defined or mentioned anywhere in the city’s municipal code. However, until new regulations are adopted, the city has been allowing short term rentals to continue.