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Regulations Ban Homeowners From Renting Out Secondary Residences As Short-Term Rentals

Residents listen to a public discussion about the potential effects of a proposed ordinance regarding short-term rentals in the San Diego City Council chambers, July 16, 2018.
Andrew Bowen
Residents listen to a public discussion about the potential effects of a proposed ordinance regarding short-term rentals in the San Diego City Council chambers, July 16, 2018.
Regulations Ban Homeowners From Renting Out Secondary Residences As Short-Term Rentals
Regulations Ban Home Owners From Renting Out Secondary Residences As Short-Term Rentals GUEST: Andrew Bowen, metro reporter, KPBS News

After several years of trying last night the San Diego City Council approved new regulations on Airbnb rentals. The new rules will substantially change the latitude homeowners have in renting out their properties for short term stays. When the changes go into effect secondary homes will not be allowed to be used as vacation rentals. The council also voted that short term rentals of primary residences be limited to less than six months a year. Joining me is Kate PBS metro reporter Andrew Boe and Hi Andrew timesharing the City Council has been trying to come up with new regulations for the past three years. What made it happen this time. A couple of things. One is that the mayor stepped in and made clear what he wanted. His proposal ultimately did not pass. It was amended in some pretty substantial ways. He did do some ground work and some just very basic administrative work on how these regulations would look. And I think that that sort of laid a foundation that ultimately became an alternative proposal that did win the majority on the city council. Another thing that changed is a couple of council members actually changed their minds. Mark Kersee and Chris Ward both ultimately voted for this proposal. Earlier they had both supported a much more permissive approach to short term rentals. And another thing that happened and this was true back in December as well is that unions got involved namely the hotel workers union also the construction workers union. And they do have an influence over the Democrats on the city council it's hard to know exactly how much influence but they certainly played a role in this. Can you give us an overview of the plan the council passed. Sure the biggest change from the status quo as you mentioned is that if you want to read about an entire home you can only do so for your primary residence so if you're a homeowner and you have a second home that you rent out on a short term basis you won't be able to do that anymore and primary residence is defined kind of by default as you have to live there for most of the year so six months or more of the year and you can only rent out that home when you're away for less than six months. That will make a lot of current Airbnb Listings illegal because you can't rent out the second home on a short term basis. Also some of them probably won't pencil out so you'll need a license that will cost about nine hundred forty nine dollars. And that may not be worth it for some current hosts who might only rent out their homes when they're away for one month of the year let's say. I spoke with one Airbnb host whose name was Jeff Macker and he rents out a second home full time. Here's what he said about the vote. Well let's call it for what it is. It's a band. They passed a ban today. And you're right they wouldn't allow us to continue to rent out our place. It would also deprive thousands of other San Diego was the same opportunity to rent out their places without going underwater. And it's also worth noting Maureen that home sharing under this proposal will be pretty easy and not too restrictive so you won't need one of these expensive licenses. This is where you'll be just renting out a spare bedroom or a couple of bedrooms in your house and you will however need to comply with some of the other basic regulations like posting a good neighbor policy and ensuring that your guests are behaving. One big aspect to this agreement last night is that there is no mission beach exception. That's an area where there are a very large number of short term rentals. Yeah so a huge number in fact. And this is an area where this issue is most contentious. The mayor had originally proposed unlimited numbers of licenses for short term rentals in Mission Beach. The morning of yesterday's meaning he had put out a memo revising that to allowing only two licenses per person the one for your primary residence plus another one for a secondary home. But he would have grandfathered in a certain number of rentals who had been paying hotel taxes to the city. Laurie after the councilwoman who represents this district said that the same rules should apply to Mission beaches everywhere else in the city and ultimately that argument went out when this debate began three years ago it was more about how the short term rentals impacted local communities in terms of loud noise party houses that kind of thing. But yesterday's debate was largely around the impact on the city's housing stock. Tell us about that. We still did hear many of those complaints about noisy parties next door and everything but but something that certainly is relatively new in this debate is the impact on housing supplies. Starting last year a lot of opponents of Airbnb started arguing that short term rentals were depleting the city's housing stock and that's contributing to these low vacancy rates and rising rents that we're seeing across San Diego that we talk so much about. The data is hard to pin down on this honestly hosts say that the impacts on the housing stock is pretty negligible. Barbara Barrie the city councilwoman who came up with a compromise plan that ultimately passed last night has played a pretty big role in directing this discourse toward the issue of housing supply. And here's what she said after the meeting. I'm excited that we are able to do something that's the right policy for our city and that we talked about housing which was the right thing to be talking about. Now many people have pointed out the irony of wealthy homeowners in coastal neighborhoods that have many of whom have resisted new housing supply density in their neighborhoods. Suddenly they're all concerned about housing affordability in San Diego. The question is whether brie and other policymakers can carry this sort of argument this momentum of of the people being concerned about housing supply in San Diego toward other policies like denser development along the coast and in single family neighborhoods. Several people pointed out the possibility that this new these new regulations could face legal challenges if they survive these legal challenges when the new regulations go into effect. The current timeline is for July 2019. They also have to pass through the Coastal Commission which regulates a lot of the land use policies and local cities along the coast. They've previously rejected all out bans on short term rentals saying that they can be seen as lower cost accommodations for visitors. So we'll see how they take this San Diego approach and whether or not they approve it. That was KPBS Metro reporter Andrew Bowen.

San Diego's years-long debate over how to regulate short-term home rentals, like Airbnb and HomeAway, came to a close Monday.

The San Diego City Council voted 6-3 on short-term rental regulations proposed by San Diego Councilwoman Barbara Bry. Homeowners who want to rent out their entire homes will be required to pay $949 each year for a license and may only rent out their primary residence for up to six months of the year.

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Chris Cate, Scott Sherman and David Alvarez voted against the plan.

The new rules are set to go into effect in July 2019. The regulations affecting coastal neighborhoods must also be approved by the California Coastal Commission.

Councilwoman Bry said short-term rentals deplete the housing supply, thus exacerbating the housing crisis.

"I'm excited that we were able to do something that's the right policy for our city, and that we talked about housing, which was the right thing to be talking about," Bry said after the vote.

AirBnb host Jeff MacGurn was not happy with the outcome.

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"Well let's call it for what it is. It's a ban. They passed a ban today," he said. "It wouldn't allow us to rent out our place. It would also deprive thousands of other San Diegans the opportunity to rent out their places without going underwater."

Ordinances similar to the one passed by the San Diego City Council have ended up in court or on the ballot via a referendum.

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