Short-term rentals issue remains unresolved; San Diego City Council committee votes on home-sharing regulations for La Jolla and the City

Members of San Diego City Council Smart Growth & Land Use (SGLU) committee couldn’t reach a consensus on City staff-proposed regulations to address the short-term vacation rental issue that has divided San Diego coastal communities since home-sharing platforms became a factor in the rental market.

After a four-hour hearing Friday, March 24, committee members discussed the regulations proposed by City staff, who were charged with studying solutions to the short-term rental issue in November 2016 when then-Council president Sherri Lightner’s efforts to end the dilemma failed.

The staff report proposes two approaches to the problem with three options each — one for whole-home rentals, which committee members could not agree upon, and one for house-sharing, which obtained the required votes to pass as a recommendation to the full Council.

The committee voted to allow home-sharing (renting out parts of one’s home while the owner is on the premises) of up to two bedrooms in all single- and multi-family zones without any limitations of use. Those wanting to rent more than two bedrooms could do it in the RM-5-12 zone, commercial zones and the Mission Beach Planned District Ordinance (PDO) zone, but this option limits the number of guests to four and the surface for rent to 25 percent of the whole unit.

Home-sharing, with three to five bedrooms for rent, would need compliance with the “limited use” regulations, which include the requirement of an annual permit for homeowners, the existence of an occupancy agreement and a designated-local contact available during the use of the property as a home-share.

The whole-house rental proposal consists of three options, the strictest one requiring a 21-day minimum stay for most residential zones, and the most permissive one allowing whole-house rentals in many multi-family and commercial zones with compliance of the “limited use” regulations.

Accessory Dwelling Units

Also known as “granny flats,” companion units may be used as home-sharing rentals where the main house remains fully occupied by the owner. To rent both spare rooms in the main house and the accessory dwelling unit on the same property, owners would have to obtain a Neighborhood Use Permit.

If the whole-house rental regulations were approved by the City Council, companion units may be use as whole-house rentals where the owner resides in the main house on the premises.

The staff report includes the contents of a letter from the California Coastal Commission (CCC) addressing the short-term rental issue, which states that the CCC doesn’t support a full ban of these properties on coastal residential neighborhoods but recommends certain regulations such as limits on the number of rentals per area, types of houses allowed to be rented and maximum occupancies.

The short-term rentals will likely go back to the full Council in the fall, when the issue will be discussed by all City Council members with the recommendation of the SGLU committee to approve the proposed legislation for home sharing and with no recommendation as to the proposal for whole-home rentals.

City Attorney Mara Elliott issued a letter March 15 stating the Municipal Code doesn’t allow short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods. Read about it from a previous La Jolla Light article at