San Diego was 4th-most popular US city for Airbnb this summer

SAN DIEGO — San Diego was the fourth-busiest market for online vacation rental agency Airbnb this summer, the firm reported Thursday.

San Diego only ranked behind New York, Los Angeles and Seattle.

According to Airbnb, 33,800 residences were booked during the summer, bringing more than 187,700 guests to town. The company estimated they spent $72 million.

The prevalence of vacation home rentals has stirred significant controversy in San Diego in recent years, particularly in beach areas. Residents contend that many vacation rental properties bring extra noise, overcrowding and trash to their neighborhoods.

However, attempts to regulate such businesses have failed because of concerns over the rights of property owners and prospective visitors who would otherwise face stiff hotel rates. An attempt to ban short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods was rejected by the City Council last year.

An attempt at a compromise, brought forth by Councilwoman Barbara Bry, is scheduled to go before city lawmakers next month.

The proposal by Bry, who represents Carmel Valley, La Jolla and University City — communities heavily impacted by vacation rentals — would allow short-term rentals in owner-occupied residences, but not in houses with absentee owners.

Among the provisions in Bry’s proposal:

— homeowners who want to rent would have to apply to the city for a permit;

— rentals when the primary occupant is absent would be limited to 90 days a year;

— the number of renters would be limited to two per guest room plus one other visitor per residence; and

— the primary occupant would be required to provide written notice reminding renters they are in a residential neighborhood and should conduct themselves accordingly, and giving information about parking rules and trash pickups.

Homeowners would not be allowed to advertise a business on their premises.

City Attorney Mara Elliott has opined that short-term vacation rentals are illegal in San Diego under current regulations, but she’s been waiting for City Council direction before beginning enforcement.