Council committee fails to agree on vacation rentals policy

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SAN DIEGO -- A City Council committee failed to reach a consensus Friday on regulating short-term vacation rental properties in San Diego and moved along three proposed options without recommending a preferred alternative.

Vacation rentals have proven to be a boon to travelers and homeowners but have also caused headaches for neighbors. The issue has pitted property owners, supported by rental websites like Airbnb, against residents who complain about disruptions from overcrowding and noise.

City officials have tried unsuccessfully for several years to deal with the matter.

All three options presented to the Smart Growth and Land Use Committee would require homeowners to obtain an annual permit; designate a local contact in case of emergency or complaints; and provide renters with an occupancy agreement that includes information on city noise, trash and parking regulations and remind them to be good neighbors, according to a staff report.

From there, they ranged from more to less restrictive with provisions like requiring a 21-day minimum stay, basing permits on the number of bedrooms offered at a home and which zones vacation rentals would be allowed in.

A motion by Councilman Chris Cate to recommend a less restrictive proposal failed to gain the necessary three votes, so the choices were advanced to the full City Council without a recommendation.

Staff said they would draft ordinances based on all three options and present them in late summer or fall.

A related plan to allow home-sharing -- in which a live-in resident simply rents out one or two bedrooms -- was passed unanimously.

Jasmine Mora, a spokeswoman for Airbnb, said San Diegans deserve short- term rental regulations that are clear, fair and reasonable.

"The hearing was a productive discussion and a solid step toward rules that will preserve neighborhood quality while allowing folks to continue to make ends meet through using our platform to share their home," Mora said in a statement.

"We'll continue to engage with our policymakers and community to ensure hosts, guests and our city can continue to benefit from the sharing economy."

The hearing came five months after the council rejected a proposed outright ban on short-term vacation rentals in neighborhoods zoned for single- family homes. Instead, the council directed staff to develop the regulations that were presented at the meeting.

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