Opponents and supporters of vacation rentals voice their concerns at a San Diego City Council meeting. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

This week, Voice of San Diego is examining so-called San Diego Specials – a term coined by now-Mayor Todd Gloria to refer to long-running civic conundrums that have festered without resolution as a result of a lack of leadership and vision. Often, these are relatively small-scale challenges that other cities (or even other San Diego communities) have long since solved.

Apart from this series, we’re taking the week to reset and work on long-term projects. The Morning Report will resume its normal form next week.


San Diego’s city government tried and failed to regulate vacation rentals for years – and now there could be an end in sight.

The city’s vacation rental regulatory debacle has long been one of the foremost San Diego Specials, as Lisa Halverstadt writes in the latest chapter of our week-long series, and there are still hurdles to clear before the city can (finally) move on.

Earlier this year, the City Council approved a regulatory compromise pushed by City Council President Jennifer Campbell and agreed to enact new rules next July.

But as with anything related to vacation rentals and City Hall, there are some complications.

State Coastal Commission staffers have some questions about the City Council-approved regulations and the Commission itself will need to eventually sign off before the rules can go into effect in coastal areas where residents have been most frustrated with vacation rentals. City officials also still need to settle on a lottery system that will determine who gets vacation rental permits – and the City Council needs to vote this fall on fees to cover implementation and enforcement efforts. Meanwhile, advocates who have long criticized the city for not cracking down on vacation rentals aren’t ruling out legal actions.

Halverstadt describes how the city got here – and what it faces next – in its years-long quest to get vacation rental regulations on the books.

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