The seven-year battle over regulating short-term vacation rentals is finally over after the California Coastal Commission voted unanimously Wednesday night to approve the city of San Diego’s new rules.
The regulations are expected to cut the number of short-term rentals across the city by 48%, and 27% in Mission Beach alone.
While residents and rental owners say the ordinance is far from perfect, they say it's nice to finally have regulations, especially people looking for affordable housing like Gretchen Newsom, who’s called Ocean Beach home for more than 10 years. “I have seen over the years our town, lovely town, just become decimated by short-term vacation rentals, and the availability of housing for long-term renters is just no longer available,” Newsom said. The mother of one knows that problem intimately now that she says her landlord gave notice he’s selling the house she lives in. “I scoured Zillow, I scoured Craigslist. I scour everything there is and there are so few homes available. But when I go to the short-term vacation sites like Airbnb, there’s literally over 100 of them available. And so where have all of the long-term renting possibilities gone? They’ve gone into transition over to short-term rentals, placing profits above people in this case," Newsom said.
The California Coastal Commissions vote is expected to slash the number of whole-home short-term rentals citywide by about half -- from about 12,300 to 6,500 --potentially helping families like Newsom's, according to Venus Molina, chief of staff for Councilmember Jennifer Campbell, who helped lead the push for the new set of regulations. “A lot of those units will be back into the market. Like I said, for long-term renters or for sale,” said Molina. “And so I think it does help with costs."
The regulation could come at a cost for short-term rental owners like Julian's Nancy Kramer, who has two rental properties. They will have to enter a lottery to get a license if they plan on renting out their homes for more than 20 days a year. “I sold one in the residential area and bought this one so I wouldn’t have to deal with short-term rental restrictions. I purposely bought and spent a lot of money and bought in the commercial zone, thinking I’m safe, and now I’m not safe,” Kramer said.
Airbnb public policy manager John Choi issued the following statement: “On behalf of the thousands of local San Diegans that are members of the short-term rental community, we applaud the doastal commission’s decision to unanimously adopt the city’s short-term rental law. Thanks to today’s decision, the city of San Diego will have clear, fair rules in place to not only empower residents to supplement their income by responsibly sharing their homes but also support the return of the local tourism economy. We look forward to continuing our work with the city on the implementation of their regulations.”
The new regulations are expected to take effect in October. The California Coastal Commission will review their impact in seven years.