There’s a new city attorney in town and on Wednesday, she declared that she’s taking a different view than her predecessor on short-term vacation rentals.
In a new memo, City Attorney Mara Elliott wrote that current city rules don’t allow short-term rentals (i.e., Airbnb) in neighborhoods whether they’re residential or commercial. Short-term rentals aren’t detailed in city code and thus aren’t allowed, Elliott wrote following a request from City Councilwoman Barbara Bry.
Ex-City Attorney Jan Goldsmith had previously emphasized the vagueness of the city code and said the City Council should make policy moves if it wants to regulate short-term rentals. Indeed, the City Council’s smart growth committee is set to hear new proposed regulations for short-term rentals later this month.
Airbnb agrees with the need for an update: “The portion of the code referenced was not written with the sharing economy in mind and underscores why we need thoughtful, sensible short term rental regulations,” Jasmine Mora, a spokeswoman for the company, said in a statement.
Elliott’s memo doesn’t necessarily mean a crackdown on short-term rentals is imminent. A key city permitting official has previously said city code also doesn’t give code officers tools to crack down in the first place.
Elliott acknowledged her memo doesn’t “allow the reasonable compromise our communities seek.”
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If you wonder why the city council has been screwing around with the short term rental "issue", the old adage of "follow the money" might be a clue. The amount of TOT from these rentals, regardless of real or imagined harm to neighborhoods, is growing by leaps and bounds. The council wants the money; the mayor wants the money, and whether the city attorney is right or wrong they are going to keep screwing around with short term rentals indefinitely.
@Bill Bradshaw so what's to keep residents, who may have once relished the notion of the single family residential community, throw up their hands, build an add-on or two or some other type of accessory unit and get in on the rental biz? After reading through a variety of docs submitted to city planning and Civic SD, it appears many folks (not unlike the beloved developers) simply regard SD as a tourist spot and that, ultimately, long term single family residences will be a thing of the past, the region becomes more of a series of high density, short-term people-warehousing districts with high turn rates (and far more transient voting blocks).
In that little thing called the Bill of Rights Amendments 9 and 10 state that, "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." and that, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
I read this to mean that if it isn't specifically denied by law, it oughta be permitted, not prohibited. This would appear to contradict our city attorney in the short-term rental issue.