The Council’s previously approved ordinance leaned toward more restrictive requirements favoring residents and allowing primary-residence-only rentals with a six-month maximum. Detractors in the rental industry characterized that ordinance as a “de facto ban.”
The Council’s re-vote on the contentious short-term rental ordinance was forced by a recently successful drive by a vacation-rental coalition. The coalition turned in nearly double (62,000) the number of valid signatures required to put the measure on a future election ballot.
On Oct. 22, the Council did not act on whether or not to place the measure before voters. The earliest that could be done, without calling a special election, is 2020.
In casting her no vote, Zapf, whose district includes the Peninsula and Mission and Pacific beaches, said: “There are literally thousands of these short-term rentals in the beach areas. What we finally came up with was a fair compromise that allowed home sharing and would have protected our residents. This (rescinded ordinance) takes away from home sharing.”
Noting a future compromise “might not be reached – if ever,” Zapf noted: “We’ve worked too hard. I don’t want to go backward on this issue. I will not allow out-of-town investors with a lot of money to bully me into rescinding this ordinance, which took so long for us to pass.”
Added Zapf, “In the meantime, I believe we should absolutely enforce municipal codes and the law right now.”
District 1 Councilmember Barbara Bry, of La Jolla, who, along with Zapf, pushed for passage of the July short-term rental ordinance, described the Council’s current action as, “a sad day for our city. After multi-year procedures and numerous compromises, the City had a legal, sound short-term rental ordinance that would have upheld our current zoning laws while allowing home sharing and preserving our precious housing stock. This action returns us to the permissive zoning scheme we had previously.”
District 7 councilmember Scott Sherman, an outspoken opponent of the Council’s initial short-term ordinance passed in July, described that approval as “an overreach.”
“A compromise is when you find yourself with with neither side totally happy,” said Sherman. “We had one side very happy, and one side very unhappy. There is room for finding a true compromise down the road. We’re making progress, not instituting a ban on the one side, or the wild wild west on the other. We need to come to a place in the middle.”
In public testimony prior to the Council’s vote, several beach residents spoke out on the issue, including Ann Kerr Bache of La Jolla Town Council, speaking for a working group of a dozen other town councils.
“We support the rescission of the prior action and want to start working with [City Council] on improving this ordinance and our communities,” said Kerr Bache, adding, “We have a chance to make lemonade out of lemons.”
But Kerr Bache warned, “Neighborhoods can’t wait forever.”