SAN DIEGO – Short-term vacation rentals, such as those advertised on websites like Airbnb, Home Away and VRBO, are not permitted in San Diego under the city’s municipal code, as currently written, City Attorney Mara Elliott said in a memo to a city council member.
In the correspondence to city Councilwoman Barbara Bry issued Wednesday, Elliott wrote that the city has a “permissive zoning ordinance,” which means any use not explicitly laid out in the regulations is prohibited. That includes short-term vacation rentals because they are “not specifically defined, expressly permitted, or listed in any of the zone use categories, including residential or commercial.”
Vacation rentals have been a controversial issue in San Diego, with neighbors complaining about overcrowding and noise from a growing number of properties set aside for visitors — especially in beach neighborhoods.
The City Council last year rejected a proposal to ban vacation rental properties in residential neighborhoods. The council instead directed city staffers to develop a set of regulations designed to allow such operations to continue while mitigating their impacts.
Elliott noted that the municipal code “does not allow the reasonable compromise our communities seek; a compromise respectful of those who wish to enjoy the quiet enjoyment of their homes and those who wish to take advantage of the innovation economy.”
Bry, who represents Carmel Valley, La Jolla and University City, said she was pleased to read that such rentals do not fall under any permissible use in the municipal code and are therefore prohibited.
“I look forward to working with my colleagues on the council to determine the best way to allow property owners to participate in home sharing, while also enforcing existing city code to protect residential communities from the proliferation of mini-hotels,” Bry said.
The city’s planning commission is expected to present the city council’s Smart Growth and Land Use Committee with options regarding regulatory framework for short-term vacation rentals on March 24, according to Elliott.
“We are optimistic that the committee will make a recommendation that will result in the comprehensive amendments our neighborhoods seek,” Elliott said. “We look forward to assisting the department with drafting any municipal code amendments the committee recommends.”