Jen Campbell celebrates her San Diego City Council win on Election Night. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

After years of City Hall paralysis over how to police vacation rentals, the City Council on Tuesday voted 8-1 to approve City Council President Jen Campbell’s regulatory compromise.

The new rules, now set to go into effect in July 2022, cap whole-home rentals at 1 percent of the city’s housing stock, and create a licensing process and a bolstered enforcement system that will allow the city to issue fines and revoke permits. The proposal includes a carveout for Mission Beach, allowing whole-home rental licenses for the equivalent of 30 percent of the neighborhood’s housing. It would also provide an unlimited number of licenses for home-sharing operations, where the homeowner remains on site, and for both whole-home and home-sharing hosts who welcome guests fewer than 20 days a year. Permitting costs are yet to be determined.

Campbell’s proposal follows an agreement last July with labor groups and a vacation rental platform on opposite sides of the issue after years of failed regulatory attempts, including 2018 regulations the City Council later voted to rescind after rental platforms gathered enough signatures to refer them to the ballot. More than two years after that tortured 2018 vote, Campbell is also facing a recall in large part over the vacation rental issue long considered one of the most divisive in city politics.

The work on the city’s new vacation rental regulations doesn’t end Tuesday. At City Councilman Raul Campillo’s request, the City Council directed city officials to provide an update on the lottery system for vacation rental licenses and how it might give preference to existing rental hosts who have followed existing city rules by mid-October. City staff are also set to seek a contractor to help with its digital licensing application that will also need to be approved by the City Council, and to assess the license fees that will be necessary to cover the city’s costs. All those steps will be necessary to move forward with the new regulations.

Multiple City Council members, including Councilman Joe LaCava, who was the sole vote against the regulations, also urged Campbell and city officials to explore in coming months how the city might hold rental platforms like Airbnb more accountable for problem hosts or failing to remove them from their platforms.

Campbell, Mayor Todd Gloria’s office and city officials pledged to ensure the vacation rental regulations are reviewed annually and tweaked as needed to address lessons the city learns after they are approved.

As Lisa Halverstadt wrote earlier this week, the city isn’t even sure how many vacation rentals it has, a conundrum that officials hope to address with regulations in place.

Schools Might Sorta Open

San Diego Unified officials, for the first time since last summer, now have a plan for a wide scale return to campus

Officials say students will be allowed to return to campus on April 12, as long as San Diego County has moved into the red tier by that time. 

If the district reopens, students will be allowed to come to campus under a hybrid model that involves some online learning and some in-person instruction. 

School staff will have access to COVID vaccines as soon as March 1, county officials have said. The new deal with the San Diego Unified teachers union to return to campus is contingent on teachers having both vaccines before being asked to return, the Union-Tribune reported. 

Vaccine Trial: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

While the federal government has approved two vaccines for COVID-19, drug-makers are testing to see if they can come up with better alternatives with fewer limitations, such as requirements for multiple doses and extreme refrigeration.

But now that vaccines are becoming more widely available, vaccine trial participants have a big decision to make: stay in a trial for months, not knowing if they received the real vaccine, or drop out and get an authorized shot as soon as possible.

VOSD contributor Randy Dotinga is taking part in a local study into the experimental Novavax COVID-19 vaccine and shares his experience so far in a new story.

“Getting all this right isn’t a minor matter,” he writes. “The fate of ongoing vaccine research could play a major role in determining whether the world can get the pandemic under control.”

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt, Andrew Keatts and Megan Wood, and edited by Sara Libby.

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