Regulating short-term vacation rentals sparks heated debate

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SAN DIEGO – The debate over how to regulate short-term vacation rentals in San Diego is heating up.

The city wants new rules for property owners of rentals like those listed on sites like Airbnb, but the City Council postponed making a decision Wednesday and will take up the issue again next month.

“At the high point its $2,200 a week and at low point $195 a night,” said Roland Stroebel. He said the only way he could afford to buy his La Jolla property was from the money he collects from a vacation rental unit in the back.

“I would lose not only this property, my house, but I would have to leave the area,” he said.

He was one of hundreds who showed up at Wednesday’s City Council committee meeting to voice concern as the City Council works to draft new regulations for short-term rental property. Stroebel is afraid some disgruntled residents who are fed up with problems associated vacationers will pressure the city council to ban the practice all together.

Tom Caut, who also addressed the committee members, said he is tired of the loud noise.

“My neighbor last year rented his house -- he’s an absentee owner -- for 200 nights at more than $625 a night,” Caut said. “Of those 200 nights, my family was not able to sleep 150 nights! We can’t continue living like that.”

Stroebel said he is operating up to code, pays the transient occupancy tax (TOT) tax and is all for more transparent regulations, because he said, he’s had first-hand experience of bad vacation renters right next door.

“Some of the times, there are 18 people on this property with as many as eight cars!” said Stroebel. “So I understand the opposition and their issue with all the noise from cars coming and going.”

The Council committee will meet again May 29 to continue hearing from the public before they make their final decision.

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