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San Diego short-term rental ordinance to go before Planning Commission on Oct. 8

Short-term vacation rentals
(File)

The latest proposal aimed at regulating short-term vacation rentals in San Diego is making its way to the city Planning Commission on Thursday, Oct. 8. Though La Jolla was not on the list of groups to which primary outreach was conducted, there’s still time to review the proposal and give feedback.

An ordinance authored by City Councilwoman Jennifer Campbell (whose District 2 includes Clairemont, Linda Vista, Pacific Beach, Midway, Mission Beach, Ocean Beach and Point Loma) aims to amend the municipal code to include short-term rental occupancy licensing and operating regulations, as well as repeal bed and breakfast and boarder and lodger uses and
regulations.

Additionally, amendments would regulate hosting platforms, booking services and hosts and include “good neighbor” policies, enforcement and limits on the number of licenses.

The proposal stems from an agreement that Campbell brokered between two private organizations — Expedia, which owns VRBO and HomeAway, two online platforms for renting STVRs; and Unite Here Local 30, a union that represents hospitality workers.

After the hearing by the Planning Commission, the draft will have two readings before the City Council — neither of which is expected this year — and at least one hearing by the California Coastal Commission.

According to a Planning Commission report, the ordinance proposes to define short-term rental occupancy as a stay of less than a month. The regulations would require a license to operate a short-term rental unit, put limits on the number of licenses a host may obtain, create caps on the total number of whole-house short-term rental units and create a process to track, manage and enforce such rentals. The regulations also would establish a mechanism to cite hosts or suspend or revoke the licenses of those who don’t follow the rules.

The ordinance groups short-term vacation rentals into a four-tier licensing system:

• Tier 1: Home-share or whole-home short-term residential occupancy for an aggregate total of 20 days or less per calendar year

• Tier 2: Home-share short-term residential occupancy for more than 20 days per calendar year

• Tier 3: Whole-home short-term residential occupancy for more than 20 days per calendar year

• Tier 4: Special tier for Mission Beach, which allows for whole-home short-term rental in a manner consistent with recommendations from the Mission Beach Town Council.

The ordinance also includes a two-night minimum for Tier 3 and 4 rentals and a “good neighbor” policy designed to “make the guest familiar with trash, parking and other rules of conduct that promote neighborhood cohesion and livability.”

During a presentation at the July 8 La Jolla Shores Association meeting, La Jollan and City Council candidate Joe LaCava said the city auditor estimated there are 16,000 STVRs in San Diego and that “the group behind this did a deep data analysis of that 16,000. They believe that between 6,000 and 9,000 are these whole-house rentals … waiting to be rented.”

The agreement states those would be capped at 3,750 units, or 0.7 percent of the city’s housing stock.

Communities such as La Jolla Shores and The Village of La Jolla have grappled with the short-term rental issue for more than five years, yet outreach to La Jolla’s planning groups regarding the proposed ordinance was limited.

The Planning Commission report states that from January 2019 to this month, “council District 2 staff convened various meetings with stakeholders and community groups on this issue, including San Diego County Lodging Association, Ocean Beach Planning Board, Ocean Beach Town Council, Mission Beach Planning Board, Mission Beach Town Council, San Diego Community STVR Working Group, Unite Here and community leaders from Pacific Beach, Point Loma, Clairemont, Mission Beach, Ocean Beach, Expedia, Airbnb, Share San Diego and the California Coastal Commission.”

Campbell’s chief of staff, Venus Molina, said staff also worked with the La Jolla Town Council’s working group on short-term rentals but kept outreach predominantly to communities in District 2.

Thus, the La Jolla Community Planning Association “was not aware of this item and is not able to formally comment due to the short notice,” according to LJCPA President Diane Kane. However, she said members may provide comments on the Planning Commission portal before the meeting or sign up for oral testimony during the meeting.

“Community planning groups have been once again omitted from the political process and are being presented with last-minute fait accomplis, Kane told the La Jolla Light. I see room for improvement in the city’s public involvement efforts.” ◆