Over 300 people debate vacation rental restrictions at council hearing

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STORY UPDATE: City council strikes down short-term vacation rental ban

SAN DIEGO – More than 300 people were expected to speak in front of City Council to voice their opinion on a proposal that would prohibit short-term vacation rental properties in San Diego neighborhoods zoned for single-family homes.

Regulating such operations has been a thorny issue in recent years as the properties have proliferated in coastal areas and neighbors complain of loud late-night parties, safety problems, overcrowding and trash.

The City Council has held several long meetings on the issue in the past, and will consider a proposal authored by council President Sherri Lightner.

"We believe the current municipal code as written does not permit short term vacation rentals in single family zones and is already enforceable today," Lightner said. "Our item merely recommends a minor edit to clarify the existing municipal code to facilitate enforcement of the zones in the city where short-term vacation rentals are not permitted."

She said short-term rentals designed to accommodate visitors would still be allowed in higher density neighborhoods. Home sharing arrangements and longer term rentals of houses or rooms would not be affected by her proposal.

Lightner, who represents La Jolla, has received support from Councilwoman Lorie Zapf, whose district covers Mission Beach and Pacific Beach.

On the opposite side, Councilman Chris Cate released his own plan Monday that would let short-term rentals stay in zones made up of houses, but with restrictions. Property owners would have to obtain permits under his plan and be subject to an escalation of fines for code violations that could lead to permit revocation.

"Basically, it's a way to allow home-sharing and whole-home rentals to exist in San Diego, and regulate those activities," Cate told City News Service.

He said he would urge his colleagues to vote "no" on Lightner's proposal and schedule a future hearing for his and other proposals.