San Diego City Attorney Issues Memo Stating Short Term Vacation Rentals Are Illegal in Residential Zones

by on March 16, 2017 · 3 comments

in Culture, Environment, Ocean Beach, San Diego

From Save San Diego Neighborhoods:

City Attorney: Short-term vacation rentals not permitted under City’s Municipal Code

San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott has issued a memorandum of law advising the City Council and Mayor that short-term vacation rentals (STVR) are illegal in the city’s residential zones.

“The City has a “permissive zoning ordinance.” This means that any use that is not listed in the City’s zoning ordinance is prohibited. Short-term vacation rentals are not specifically defined, expressly permitted, or listed in any of the zone use categories, including residential or commercial,” Elliott said in her memo, issued on March 15.

You can read the entire two-page memo below.

The memo is a game-changer in a struggle begun by citizens in 2007 to regulate STVR. Save San Diego Neighborhoods and others have long argued that the San Diego Municipal Code prohibits owner-unoccupied vacation rentals in residential zones. The memo confirms that view is, and has been, correct. …

The City Attorney memo comes at a time when the City’s Smart Growth and Land Use Committee is scheduled to again take up the vacation rental issue on March 24. An ordinance offered by Council Members Barbara Bry and Lorie Zapf would address home-sharing (where the owners are present and rent out rooms).

In the wake of Elliott’s memo, Bry issued the following statement:

“I was pleased to read the memo issued by City Attorney Mara Elliott confirming that short-term vacation rentals do not fall under any permissible use in the Municipal Code and are therefore prohibited in the City of San Diego. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Council to determine the best way to allow property owners to participate in home sharing, while also enforcing existing City Code to protect residential communities from the proliferation of mini-hotels.”


Here is the 2-page memo:

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

OB Mercy March 16, 2017 at 5:05 pm

If you live in OB and want to stop STVR from existing in residential areas, make sure to come to the OB Planning Board mtg, first Wed in May.

The owners next door to our property on Saratoga and Cable, want to add a garage and a unit on top of that, to an already existing STVR in the front house. We deal with new people coming in every three days or so.

The owner’s bro was at the OBPB mtg last night and wasn’t going to even reveal that iw as already an STVR, but I helped make it known by bringing their listing on the VRBO web site. BUSTED!

The memo released yesterday is going to help a LOT. But we need you all to show up the first Wed in May for the full board meeting where we will address this property at 4925 Saratoga Ave.


carlos March 17, 2017 at 12:06 pm

Is there a forum where you can report these residences, get a number of some sort to update you on the progress of the complaint?


OB Mercy March 17, 2017 at 1:37 pm

Carlos, I’m looking for this info too. I just asked at this Facebook page,

I suggest you do the same. When I posted something on there the other day, a lawyer who helps run the group actually called me.


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