The following is a July 17 update of story posted yesterday evening, July 16
After almost five hours of public testimony, the mayor's proposal was voted down 6-3 with councilmember's Mark Kersey, Chris Cate, and Scott Sherman voting in favor. After the vote, Councilmember Barbara Bry called out former city attorney Jan Goldsmith by asking who he was there representing. Goldsmith told the room he represented "Airbnb and HomeAway."
After some discussion and a recess, Bry's proposal, which left some rules proposed by the mayor intact (fees, a good neighbor policy, registration), was voted on. It passed 6-3, with councilmember's Cate, Sherman and David Alvarez voting against.
Bry's proposal, co-submitted with councilmember Lorie Zapf, allows licenses to be issued to a host's primary residence only. One additional license for another dwelling unit will be allowed as long as it's on the same parcel. Bry cited that primary residence only regulations have made progress in other California cities such as San Francisco, Pasadena, Hermosa Beach, and Santa Monica.
Same parcel units could include apartment buildings where a tenant could feasibly rent an additional unit to rent out as a vacation rental. Though, it's a mystery what landlord would sign off on this.
"The rational basis for primary residence only is that removing existing housing stock from the market negatively effects the already plunging San Diego vacancy rate and exacerbates the housing emergency that this council and councils before us have voted to declare on a monthly basis since 2002," said Bry.
Before the hearing on Monday, Faulconer amended his proposal that allowed unlimited vacation rentals in Mission Beach. After some pressure from the Mission Beach community, the mayor agreed that there should be limits but would allow any rentals registered with the city before July 1, 2018 to be grandfathered in.
Zapf whose district has been hardest hit with vacation rentals (Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach) followed Bry by saying, "This is by no means the ideal solution, however having worked on this for nearly four years, this is as close as we've gotten to getting some relief for the residents living in my beach and bay communities."
She then asked that Faulconer's grandfathering provision for Mission Beach be removed. She requested a one-year review to make any necessary changes and to schedule outreach at that time to the top ten impacted areas (Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, downtown San Diego, La Jolla, Uptown, North Park, Ocean Beach, Point Loma, Clairemont, and Golden Hill).
Councilmember Chris Ward requested that the issue of accessory units (granny flats) come back to the city council to ensure that older units are okay for vacation rentals, but not newer ones that are getting expedited permitting and reduced fees.
Some residents at the hearing said they have been asking for relief for up to eleven years, some having started the conversation with Faulconer when he had Zapf's District 2 seat.
Several residents I spoke with in the days before the vote said Bry's primary residence proposal was the only sane solution but few held out much hope it could pass.
Some expect lawsuits or an Airbnb-funded referendum. Others expect some will find ways to work around the new rules. One University City resident said in Santa Monica, some avoid detection from code compliance by removing their vacation rental ads during the day and putting them back up at night when code enforcement is off-duty. One resident suggested a landlord could force a long-term renter to sign a vacation host document which would evict the tenant for three to six months out of the year.
As far as enforcement, some residents expect they will still be on the frontlines of having to police their own neighborhoods and report illegal vacation rentals and nuisances from legal rentals.
Belinda Smith, co-founder of the Short Term Rental Alliance of San Diego (advocate for vacation rentals), said after the vote, "I see today's vote as a huge win for the hotel lobby and a huge loss for property rights."