Good Neighbor Short-Term Rental Ordinance FAQ

What is a short-term rental (STR)?

The occupancy of a dwelling unit or part thereof for less than one month.

What is home sharing and how is it different than whole-home rentals?

Home sharing is the short-term residential occupancy of either the host’s primary residence or a separate dwelling unit on the same premises as the host’s primary residence. Whereas, whole-home rentals are the short-term residential occupancy of the host’s entire dwelling unit while the host is not physically present and residing in the dwelling unit.  

The City Council passed new laws regulating STRs, what will they do?

The new regulations will allow a STR host to obtain a maximum of one license at a time in one of the following four license Tiers:

Tier 1 – Occasional Use
· License holder’s primary or non-primary residence  
· Home share and whole-home rentals allowed  
· No more than 20 booked nights per year  
· No limit on number of permits issued citywide

Tier 2 – Home Sharing
· License holder’s primary residence only
· Home share only  
· Allows home sharing for up to 365 nights per year  
· Duplex properties and eligible granny flats are allowed as long as the primary resident lives onsite  
· No limit on the number of permits issued citywide

Tier 3 – Vacation Rental
· License holder’s primary or non-primary residence  
· Allows whole-home rental for up to 365 nights per year  
· Total number of licenses capped at 1% of total housing units in San Diego, excluding Mission Beach  
· Two-night minimum stay required

Tier 4 – Mission Beach Vacation Rental
· License holder’s primary or non-primary residence  
· Allows whole-home rental for up to 365 nights per year
· Total number of licenses capped at 30% of total housing units in Mission Beach
· Two-night minimum stay required  

Who proposed these regulations?  

Council President Dr. Jennifer Campbell proposed the Good Neighbor STR Ordinance, which follows a compromise proposed by Unite Here Local 30 and Expedia Group.  

Why was it important to pass these regulations now?

Share San Diego believes local families and businesses who rely on STRs to make ends meet should be given certainty in knowing that their livelihoods won’t be regulated out of existence overnight.

We’ve spent years working with City leaders, local stakeholders and community groups in the hopes that eventually the City would adopt reasonable regulations. Despite our good faith efforts, some local politicians have used STRs as a scapegoat for all of the City’s problems as they’ve advocated for banning STRs. As a result, local businesses, families and property managers have suffered and frequently dealt with harassment from STR opponents. This ordinance will ensure responsible STR hosts can continue to operate without fear that their businesses being taken away.  

When will the ordinance go into effect?

To allow STR hosts and City departments time to prepare, the new rules will begin July 1, 2022, but the City Council will review administrative policies on or before October 15, 2021 and review the ordinance’s effects annually.  

I have multiple STRs, can I get multiple licenses?  

No. Licenses are limited to one per person.  

Where can I apply for a license?

You will be able to apply for a license online through the City of San Diego’s website sometime before the ordinance goes into effect on July 1, 2022.  

How will Tier 3 and Tier 4 license be distributed?

The City is currently determining a lottery system for Tier 3 and Tier 4 licenses that will give preference to responsible STR hosts who have paid their taxes and have been good actors. The City Council will review proposals for the lottery system on or before October 15, 2021.  

Are licenses transferable?

No, and STR hosts must renew their license every two years.  

Can I switch to a different license tier if my situation changes?

Yes, an STR host may hold one single license from any tier, so in order to switch to a different tier, the first license will need to be canceled first before applying for another one.

Why didn’t other communities get a higher license cap like Mission Beach?

STRs have existed in Mission Beach for more than 100 years. The community has embraced them and recognize the economic benefits they bring to the region. For that reason, the Council gave preference to Mission Beach by adopting the Mission Beach Town Council’s recommendation to allow up to 30 percent of the housing stock to be used for STRs.  

I am opposed to STRs, how will these new rules benefit me?

Council President Jennifer Campbell’s Good Neighbor STR ordinance is a compromise that creates a process by which residents can provide a service to the visitors of San Diego while at the same time protecting the integrity of existing neighborhoods. The regulations establish a mechanism to cite, suspend or revoke the license of hosts not following the City’s regulations, and will return homes to the housing market.

The City of San Diego has a permissive zoning code, so why doesn’t the City just “enforce the code” and make all STRs illegal?

Court case after court case have determined cities cannot ban STRs:  

·  City of Del Mar – The City of Del Mar agued that STRs are illegal because they are not listed in the City’s permissive zoning code, but the court rejected this argument because, similar to San Diego, the City had allowed STRs to exist for years.

·  City of Manhattan Beach – The court ruled the City of Manhattan Beach’s STR ban violated the California Coastal Act and could no longer be enforced. Furthermore, courts are questioning the liability of Manhattan Beach towards owners who were prevented from operating STRs.  

How will the new regulations limit nuisance STRs?

Hosts are required to provide guests with a Good Neighbor Code of Conduct designed to make guests familiar with trash, parking and other rules of conduct that promote neighborhood cohesion and livability. The Good Neighbor Code of Conduct shall inform guests they are expected to abide by all laws, be respectful, and maintain the residential character of the neighborhood.

What are the repercussions for guests and owners who flaunt the rules?  

Verified violations may results in fines of up to $1,000 for guests and hosts. Hosts who repeatedly break the rules may have their license revoked.  

What happens when police officers are too busy to respond to nuisances?

A critical component for enforcement of the regulations is the requirement of a local contact available to respond to neighborhood disturbances within one hour. All hosts must post a notice in a visible location containing contact information for a designated local contact who shall be responsible for actively discouraging and preventing any nuisance activity at the premises.

Additionally, license fees and fines from STRs will fully fund a robust night and weekend code enforcement program to rapidly respond to complaints instead of police officers. Other cities that have adopted similar enforcement regulations saw complaints drop by 90% or more.  

What is to stop bad actors from listing their property without a license?

The ordinance makes it illegal for hosting platforms such as Vrbo and Airbnb from processing any booking service for a STR without a valid license, and hosting platforms are required to remove listings that have had their license revoked.