Frequently Asked Questions
What will be the short-term rental rules in San Diego starting May 1, 2023?
We've created a summary list.
What's the history of short-term rentals, with respect to regulation, in San Diego?
The article Airbnb and Short-Term Rentals in San Diego: The Ban that Never Was has a comprehensive timeline through the end of 2018.
Why did the city pass new regulations?
We'll defer to the city's preamble on the intent of the ordinance:
WHEREAS, the City desires to preserve its available housing stock and the quality of life in its residential neighborhoods and to alleviate the impacts to residential neighborhoods caused by STRO, which is an occupancy of less than a month; and
WHEREAS, the City has determined that most negative impacts to neighborhood communities arise from whole home STRO, and the impacts are less when the STRO occurs within the primary residence of the host, and the City desires to reduce these impacts by limiting the number of whole home STRO licenses available…
What's the enforcement plan?
Starting on May 1, 2023 any listing without a Short Term Residential Occupancy (STRO) license number will be blocked from booking on the major platforms. The City Treasurer is hiring a compliance firm to audit listings on several booking sites for the presence of a valid license.
The current plan for complaints regarding unlawful usage, lack of permits, nuisance, etc, will be submitted via Get It Done and triaged by the 5 newly hired enforcement officers within Code Enforcement Division. We offer people the option of using our map to report registered STRs, or using the "Report an STR" button for unregistered STRs.
The City also has their own official San Diego STR Map.
The city has also hired one attorney focused solely on STRO to facilitate compliance RE: egregious violations and one business intelligence specialist.
Do you have keep track of unlicensed hosts or others not following the law?
Yes, we're aware of over 1,000 whole-unit STRs which are non-compliant.
This includes properties with invalid licenses, those using duplicate licenses, unlawful ADU/grannyflat usage, unlawful guestquarters usage, and those violating 2-night minimum stay requirements, entire apartment building conversions, and general nuisance.
Unlicensed multi-unit building (apartments, -plexes), as these have the highest impact on housing availability
Unlicensed ineligible Accessory Dwelling Units and granny flats / casitas / guesthouses which also negatively impact housing availability
Unlicensed, entire unit w/ nuisance risk (high occupancy) and/or history of Code Enforcement complaints
Licensed, entire unit w/ nuisance risk, violating 2-night minimums, etc
License "sharing" on more than one advertisement and other license inconsistencies
We prioritize the largest, most active offending hosts vs "mom & pop" operators.
What's the harm in a casita, granny flat, guesthouse or ADU being used as short-term rental (STR)?
When the owner lives on-site, it's not a primary concern of our organization.
However, the existing San Diego Municipal Code (SDMC) is clear: ADUs permitted after Oct 15, 2017 are ineligible for stays under 30 days. Guesthouses / casitas / granny flats were never eligible to be rented separately (SDMC §141.0307(i)(1)). But we do not object to their use as mid- or long-term housing.
California state law does not allow any recently-constructed ADU to be rented for 30 days or less.
A local agency shall require that a rental of any unit created pursuant to this section be for a term longer than 30 days.
We're aware of hundreds of ADUs that are being improperly used as STR, despite the fact that the permissive ADU permitting process was intended to increase housing supply.
As a host, why would I support enforcement?
On Airbnb.com, the top 10 hosts operate 18% of all entire-unit STRs in San Diego as of Feb 2023. The top 3% operate 47% of all such listings.
The largest operator, Vacasa, is based out of Portland and operates nearly 500 listings after their acquisition of 710 Beach Rentals and SeaBreeze Vacation Rentals in 2021. See our list of the top 100 Airbnb operators in San Diego. Vacasa is the largest operator of vacation rental units in the US with a portfolio of 30,000 properties as of 2021. This is big business.
A host operating one listing is competing with companies that are unable to maintain quality and abate nuisance.
The reputation of all hosts is damaged by operators who cannot be "good actors". Vacasa is the lowest-rated large operator in San Diego with 4.4/5 stars by their own guests.