Signs in Crown Point protest the proliferation of short-term vacation rentals. / Photo by Dustin Michelson

A bill in the state Legislature would do what vacation rental opponents in San Diego have tried but failed to accomplish: set strict limits on short-term vacation rentals in coastal neighborhoods.

AB 1731, written by Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner Horvath, who represents North County cities, bars vacation rental platforms like Airbnb and VRBO from listing San Diego County vacation rentals that fall into both residential and state coastal zones on their sites for more than 30 days a year unless a full-time resident is on site. The legislation would dramatically curtail rentals outside commercial areas in neighborhoods such as Pacific Beach and La Jolla.

Boerner Horvath’s initial goal was to curtail year-round rentals across the state. After pushback, she amended the bill to focus solely on San Diego County.

“It’s basically a test case for California,” Boerner Horvath said.

The California Hotel & Lodging Association, the state and local hotel workers union Unite Here chapters and the state teamsters’ union have rallied behind the bill. They argue vacation rentals are taking over beach communities and pushing out longtime residents.

Unsurprisingly, Airbnb, Expedia and business groups aren’t fans. They have argued the bill could restrict money-making opportunities for families who own vacation rentals and that hotel-tax collections also applied to vacation rentals in many cities could fall if Boerner Horvath’s bill passes.

More surprisingly, the city of Oceanside has also formally registered as an opponent of the bill.

Oceanside Mayor Peter Weiss said he’s concerned the bill could hamper efforts to pass regulations tailored to individual cities. Oceanside’s City Council is expected to soon vote on new vacation rental regulations that acknowledge – and allow – year-round rentals in a coastal zone in the North County city.

“If any city wants to adopt their own regulations, they should have the ability and authority to do so,” Weiss said.

Assemblyman David Chiu, a former San Francisco official who worked on vacation rental regulations in that role, echoed concerns about local control during an April 9 Assembly Judiciary Committee discussion about the bill.

“I think if this were a statewide bill I would, given the regulatory structure that we had worked so hard in our city to do, I probably wouldn’t be able to support this,” said Chiu, who has advocated for a slew of state housing reforms.

Chiu opted not to vote on the bill in the Judiciary Committee, while San Diego Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez and Assemblyman Brian Maienschein voted to advance the bill.

Boerner Horvath told Voice of San Diego she had already tweaked AB 1731 to clarify that cities can pass their own regulations following a discussion with Weiss. She suggested cities like Oceanside could pass carveout ordinances to rename residential zones that now host lots of vacation rentals.

Her bill also aims to get around the state Coastal Commission’s repeated demands that cities accommodate vacation rentals, which can serve as lower-cost alternatives to hotels in beach communities, with a note that properties listed in accordance with the state’s “Lower Cost Accommodations Program” can be offered up year-round.

It’s not clear how that would work – or how property owners would register. Boerner Horvath said she’s still working through the details.

Boerner Horvath said her bill would allow vacation rental owners to advertise their homes on multiple platforms for up to 90 days a year – thus allowing rentals for up to 90 nights a year – and wouldn’t keep them from advertising their homes on their own websites.

“My hope is that people make the choice, ‘Am I gonna rent this out as a long-term rental or create my own website?’” Boerner Horvath said.

The Assembly’s natural resources committee is now set to review the bill on April 29.

Some Lawmakers Own Multiple Homes, One Owns None

Assemblyman Todd Gloria has an interesting distinction: He’s seemingly the only member of the California Legislature who doesn’t own a home, according to a new CALmatters analysis.

Gloria’s studio can be seen in his mayoral campaign kickoff video, where he washes dishes and straightens his tie before heading out of a multi-unit apartment building.

Meanwhile, four members of San Diego’s legislative delegation are themselves landlords: Sens. Toni Atkins and Pat Bates, Assemblywoman Marie Waldron and Assemblyman Randy Voepel.

Atkins’ most recent financial disclosure form includes three properties in South Park, but notes that they’re owned by her spouse and that she is not on the title to the properties. Waldron owns a rental property in Escondido, Voepel owns one in Santee and Bates owns rental properties in Encinitas and La Quinta.

Golden State News

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...

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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