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Opinion: A vacation rental compromise? What's next?

San Diego Union Tribune logo San Diego Union Tribune 2/25/2021 The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board
a group of people walking down the street: Mission Beach, shown in this Jan. 30 photo, is the hub of short-term vacation rentals in San Diego. (Nelvin C. Cepeda / U-T) © Provided by San Diego Union Tribune Mission Beach, shown in this Jan. 30 photo, is the hub of short-term vacation rentals in San Diego. (Nelvin C. Cepeda / U-T)

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After more than six years of hopeless acrimony, the fight over how to regulate and limit short-term vacation rentals in San Diego appears to have ended — thankfully — with the first of two required City Council votes Tuesday. The compromise engineered by council President Jennifer Campbell won support, almost anti-climatically, on an 8-1 vote.

The proposal limits whole-home rentals that are available for more than 20 days a year to 1,100 in Mission Beach — long the home to the most such rentals — and to 5,400 in the rest of the city. One person can only have one license. City staff says there will be about a 30 percent reduction in rentals when the rules take effect in July 2022, giving City Hall time to gear up for the licensing process — and, crucially, to prepare for strict enforcement of rules against party houses. The City Council and Mayor Todd Gloria still have some fine-tuning to do. The lottery process for awarding licenses should be amended to give priority to rental owners who have long followed rules and paid city taxes. The Coastal Commission also has to OK the rules in beach areas.

The compromise — embraced by vacation rental platforms and the local hotel workers union alike — may face legal challenges and will infuriate those who don’t get licenses to rent their homes. But it is progress. Here’s hoping the vote is a harbinger for more smart compromises on other big city issues.

This story originally appeared in San Diego Union-Tribune.

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