New vacation rental proposal would require minimum 3-night stays

SAN DIEGO – Four City Council members Tuesday released a new proposal for regulating short-term vacation rental properties in San Diego, in an attempt to solve an issue that has vexed city officials and neighbors alike over the last few years.

The plan — by David Alvarez, Mark Kersey, Scott Sherman and Chris Ward – – would require three-night minimum stays, follow a state standard for occupancy, set up a system for permitting and enforcement, and provide renters with a code of conduct that covers issues like noise, trash and parking.

Vacation rental properties are favored because they provide owners with a revenue stream in a high-cost city and give visitors an alternative to expensive coastal hotels. However, neighbors have complained in recent years about over-crowding and loud parties that last well into the night.

A proposal that would have virtually banished rental properties in residential neighborhoods was rejected last year by the council.

More recently, Councilwoman Barbara Bry proposed a set of regulations that would, among other things, allow short-term rentals in owner-occupied residences, but not in houses with absentee owners. It would also limit rentals when the primary occupant is absent to 90 days a year and keep the number of renters to two per guest room plus one other visitor per residence.

Officials of Airbnb, the vacation rental website, contend that Bry’s proposal is nearly as restrictive as the one rejected last year.

In a statement on the latest plan, the company said, “We are reviewing this proposal and are glad to see that Councilmembers Ward, Alvarez, Sherman and Kersey are working toward comprehensive regulations that better define short-term rentals in San Diego. Vacation rentals and home sharing are a time- honored tradition in San Diego, and we agree that strong policies need to be enacted. We believe regulations should define short-term rentals, establish good neighbor standards, provide funding for real enforcement and create a registration and permitting process.”

The topic of short-term rentals is scheduled to come before the City Council next month.