Council members push for short-term vacation rental regulations

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SAN DIEGO – The San Diego City Council is expected to take up the controversial issue of short-term vacation rentals on Monday. Just days before the big debate, council members Barbara Bry and Lori Zapf are pitching their own solution.

“It’s time for Airbnb to return to its roots,” Bry said Friday.

Her plan calls for unlimited short-term rentals as long as the homeowner lives on the property. If the homeowner is off-site, she’s proposing a 90-day cap.

“When you buy a home in a residential neighborhood, you don’t sign up to live next to a mini hotel. You want to live in community with neighbors,” Bry said.

The Garcias say they have struggled living next to a vacation home for the past year.

“Not enjoyable because we live next door to a vacation rental,” Aaron Garcia said. “There’s been everything from people throwing up to louder music.”

“Our biggest frustration is the revolving door,” Liz Garcia said. “My grandma lived here and she had problems with this vacation rental.”

The issue of short-term rentals has been a long-standing problem in San Diego. In June, Mayor Kevin Faulconer proposed what he called a fair and reasonable solution: a permit-based system that limits the number of vacation rentals a property owner can hold to two. But in Mission Beach, there are no limits because Faulconer said vacation rentals are part of the fabric of that community.

Cy Pilkington owns three vacation rental homes in San Diego. He said some level of regulation is needed and is on board with the Faulconer’s plan, but calls Bry’s proposal too strict.

“I don’t think it supports the community, even from a TOT point of view,” Pilkington said. “Airbnb brought in almost $19 million into San Diego.”

Aaron said it’s not the plan that matters, but that it all just comes down to law.

“I think the biggest solution is to enforce the law and follow what the District Attorney put out, that short-term rentals are illegal,” Garcia said. “It’s been put in place for a reason and this is the reason.”

The issue goes before a full city council Monday at noon and then council members are expected to make a decision.

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