Draft ordinance on short-term vacation rentals released

SAN DIEGO — Legal issues that delayed City Council consideration of proposed regulations of short-term vacation rental properties in San Diego have apparently been ironed out, prompting a councilman to release the text of a draft ordinance Monday.

The thorny issue has defied several previous attempts to regulate such vacation rentals, which some travelers use as alternatives to increasingly expensive hotels, via websites like Airbnb and HomeAway.

A hearing scheduled last month before the City Council was postponed after City Attorney Mara Elliott issued a memorandum expressing several legal concerns. The panel will now take up the issue on Dec. 12.

Councilman Scott Sherman, who released the draft ordinance, said his staff worked with lawyers in Elliott’s office and other city departments to resolve the problems in the proposed law. The basic provisions are unchanged.

“I believe this common-sense bipartisan measure is the best path forward for the regulation of short-term vacation rentals,” Sherman said.

“Like any good compromise, neither side will be completely happy with this ordinance,” he said. “I would like to thank the city attorney and Planning Department staff for working with us.”

Sherman and council colleagues David Alvarez, Mark Kersey and Chris Ward announced an outline of their proposal in September. Their plan 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.

Councilwoman Barbara Bry, whose district includes La Jolla, has issued a separate proposal that would offer tighter restrictions.

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.