Community activists sent a resounding message to city officials this year: The city’s approach to short-term vacation rentals isn’t working.

Two camps quickly emerged in a battle that has particular significance in San Diego, which draws in tens of millions of tourists each year.

Voice of the Year

Save San Diego Neighborhoods called for a city crackdown on vacation rentals and argued the city should enforce its current regulations, which it believes bar whole-home vacation rentals in residential areas. The group complained about unruly visitors and what they dubbed mini-hotels operating in neighborhoods. They made countless calls to their City Council representatives, demanding a crackdown.

The other side wasn’t quiet, either. Attorney Omar Passons, who represented a Burlingame Airbnb host cited by code enforcement, and others now associated with the Short Term Rental Alliance of San Diego took to social media and voiced concerns over private property rights and income losses they’d face if the city banned or put significant limits on rentals. They, too, made their concerns clear to City Council members.

The groups’ public arguments played out in a series of hours-long hearings.

Now the conversation is on hold. After yet another packed, hours-long meeting this month, the city Planning Commission decided to punt regulations that included a controversial 21-day minimum restriction on overnight stays back to Councilwoman Lorie Zapf’s office for more work. Zapf’s office is now mulling next steps.

Neither side is thrilled with that outcome or the continued uncertainty. One certainty: They’ll both be speaking up again in 2016.

This is part of our Voice of the Year package, profiling the people who drove the biggest conversations in San Diego this year.

Lisa is a senior investigative reporter who digs into some of San Diego's biggest challenges including homelessness, city real estate debacles, the region's...

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