Council committee fails to agree on vacation rentals policy

SAN DIEGO — A City Council committee failed to reach a consensus Friday on the thorny issue of regulating short-term vacation rental properties in San Diego and moved along three proposed options without recommending a preferred alternative.

Vacation rentals have proven a to be a boon to travelers and homeowners but have also caused headaches for neighbors. The issue has pitted property owners, supported by rental websites like Airbnb, against residents who complain about disruptions from overcrowding and noise.

City officials have tried unsuccessfully for several years to deal with the controversy, and the proposals presented to the Smart Growth and Land Use Committee were just the latest attempt.

All three options would require homeowners to obtain an annual permit; designate a local contact in case of emergency or complaints; and provide renters with an occupancy agreement that includes information on city noise, trash and parking regulations and remind them to be good neighbors, according to a staff report.

From there, they ranged from more to less restrictive with provisions like requiring a 21-day minimum stay, basing permits on the number of bedrooms offered at a home and which zones vacation rentals would be allowed in.

A motion by Councilman Chris Cate to recommend a less restrictive proposal failed to gain the necessary three votes, so the choices were passed up to the full City Council without a recommendation.

Staff said they would draft ordinances based on all three options and present them in late summer or fall.

A related plan to allow home-sharing — in which a live-in resident simply rents out one or two bedrooms — was passed unanimously.

The hearing came five months after the council rejected a proposed outright ban on short-term vacation rentals in neighborhoods zoned for single- family homes. Instead, the council directed staff to develop the regulations that were presented at the meeting.

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