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The city’s plan to regulate vacation rentals after years of disagreement about how to do so faces the prospect of being delayed once again.
The City Council on Monday got updates on what they can control for now — and how the California Coastal Commission could throw a wrench into their plans.
Councilmembers heard city officials’ proposals on an application process for vacation rental licenses, fees for licenses and the lottery process the city will use to decide which operators get licenses for whole-home rentals that host guests more than 20 nights a year. The City Council ultimately signed off on most of what staff proposed, but directed city staff and Mayor Todd Gloria’s office to pitch a way for longtime-responsible hosts to be prioritized rather than go with the largely random lottery process staff had proposed for whole-home operations. City officials said Monday they didn’t have data available to make that work and that city attorneys warned there could be legal pitfalls with that approach.
But city officials are now expected to provide a memo on plans they have decided are legally permissible to prioritize good actors within the next month.
City Councilman Raul Campillo, who in February pushed to give hosts who already pay hotel taxes and rent out their homes more than 20 days a year prioritization among other criteria, was one of multiple councilmembers calling for city officials to act on that direction.
“A lot of individuals have compromised a lot to get us to a point and to not have a lottery system that prioritizes good actors puts communities at risk and ultimately leaves us open to lawsuits,” Campillo said.
Councilmembers also heard about a major uncertainty facing the regulations the city hopes to implement next July: The city can’t implement long-elusive regulations until the state Coastal Commission gives its stamp of approval — and it’s unclear when that will happen.
The Coastal Commission in July deemed the initial package the city submitted on the policy incomplete and requested more details on multiple aspects of the proposal.
Now commission staff are reviewing the city’s latest response and will have additional information to assess after Monday’s City Council discussion.
If the commission proposes any changes or extends the timeline it has to certify the city rules, city officials will need to return to the City Council to make changes — and then, potentially, back to the Coastal Commission again for a final approval, Development Services Director Elyse Lowe said Monday.
Lowe warned that the Coastal Commission could wait until as long as April 2023 to certify the city’s vacation rental rules.
Officials are now counting on the Coastal Commission to take up the city’s vacation rental regulations at its meeting in San Diego next June, less than a month before the new regulations are set to go into effect. That’s also the next meeting the commission has planned in San Diego County.
Of the nearly 27,000 people in San Diego who work in the energy industry, about a third work in natural gas, the Earth-warming fossil fuel that local officials are trying to phase out of the region. The city of San Diego has already committed to shifting to using all renewable energy by 2035, but it and other cities in the county are also trying to electrify our homes and businesses that still rely on natural gas for their stoves and water heaters, which accounts for about 20 percent of our emissions.
In this week’s Environment Report, MacKenzie Elmer endeavored to understand more clearly where the jobs in the region’s energy industry come from. Why? Well, one issue facing environmentalists’ efforts to ban natural gas comes from the many labor union workers tied to the industry.
It turns out, electrical workers currently outnumber natural gas workers, Elmer found. But not everyone working in electrical contracting is working in renewable energy, because nearly half of the electricity generation coming from the state’s power plants come from natural gas.
Click here to read the rest of this week’s Environment Report.
This Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt, Maya Srikrishnan and Andrew Keatts. It was edited by Megan Wood.