San Diego County STR zoning code questions- ADU and JADU

12 Replies

Hey everyone!

How are Short Term Rental hosts (AirBNB, VRBO, etc.) with multiple dwellings on a lot able to rent out their properties for less than 30 days?

I may be reading this incorrectly (highly likely), but according to a 2018 zoning code cleanup linked below, it reads "the update will also add provisions that require owner occupancy of one of the dwelling, and prohibit renting of ADU for less than 30 days".

Does this mean investors in unincorporated areas are only renting rooms and entire homes? Would it be possible to rent the JADU or the SFD as long as the owner occupies the ADU?


Thanks for taking the time to read this and, hopefully, leaving a helpful response!

https://www.sandiegocounty.gov...

Hi @Isaiah Ortiz-Hoyle , the document you are referring to appears to be outdated. Here is the link to the most recent handout SD County revised on 9/20/2021.
https://www.sandiegocounty.gov...

The last point in the JADU section on the 3rd page addresses your question: "The JADU may be rented, but not for less than 30 days, and is not intended for sale separate from the primary residence. The owner is required to live in one of the two units."

If the property has an ADU, JADU, and SFD then the owner must live in any one of the units as their primary residence.

@Isaiah Ortiz-Hoyle

The city of San Diego, has actually passed code this year which would decimate anyone who has multiple STRs in the city, via a “1 per owner” condition, limited number of permits insufficient to cover the existing STRs, a lottery system, etc.

However, the city has paused to see if the California Coastal Commission will veto that in the coastal zone, which they have before.

This is the second time in four years where the city has passed a code designed to drastically curtail STRs. Eventually, they are going to come up with one that sticks.

I would at least wait until the Coastal Commission puts forth their will on the matter, before you invested any energy into San Diego STRs.

ADUs and JADUs are not for STRs.  They can be used for LTRs, but the JADU does require the owner to occupy the primary unit to be able to rent the JADU as an LTR.  This Owner Occupied restriction does not apply to ADUs.  

@Doug H. adequately described the potential issue with STRs in the city of San Diego. If the ordinance goes into affect, it is unlikely you can create a new STR in the city of San Diego. The ordinance was originally scheduled to go into affect in July 2022.

My view is STR in most areas of San Diego are at high risk of being impacted by anti STR regulations.

We currently have 3 STRs in the city of San Diego (2 units at mission Beach and one unit in Pt Loma). The wife and I will be limited to one each if the regulation goes into affect. the 2 mission beach units have been STR for over 20 years. We will convert one unit (the Pt Loma unit) to 30+ day furnished rental when required.

Good luck

@Isaiah Ortiz-Hoyle I'd highly recommend you check out the monthly meet up "Beers & Deals' in Little Italy.  I'm not an expert in ADUs (only have midwest small multi unit rentals right now) but I did meet a lot of people at that meet up who had invested in them locally and I'd imagine you could make some valuable connections there. It's ran by the hosts of "The Multifamily Takeoff" podcast.  

Adding on to what @Dan Heuschele and @Doug H. said (both of which I concur with)...

There's a big difference here between single family properties and multifamily properties.  

A multifamily property (and, technically a single family property that is a duplex, but ignore that bizarre technicality for a moment) has legal separate dwelling units (DUs) for which the original builder paid DIF and other fees to create. Every one of those units can potentially be an STR under current city policy.

This is different from single family properties. In this case, only the primary DU (the original home) can be legally offered as an STR.

Basically, if someone didn't pay DIF fees to create a legal DU out of the unit, you can't STR under current policy. Both types of properties, however, can have ADU units (technically called "companion units") added to them. Those ADU units cannot be STR'd.

All this is a bit wonky, but it answers your main question: it's possible to take a multifamily property and legally STR all the units. It's also possible to illegally do it. And, to underscore what was said earlier, it's VERY unlikely to be able to legally do it starting sometime next year (unless you make other changes so it's legally treated as lodging or SRO use).

@Isaiah Ortiz-Hoyle One may have multiple dwellings (that are not ADUs or JADUs).  Also, San Diego County is not doing much checking or enforcement, and that which is done appears to be entirely complaint-based.

@Doug H. the City of San Diego is an entirely different beast.

Originally posted by @Patrick Collins :

Hi @Isaiah Ortiz-Hoyle, the document you are referring to appears to be outdated. Here is the link to the most recent handout SD County revised on 9/20/2021.
https://www.sandiegocounty.gov...

The last point in the JADU section on the 3rd page addresses your question: "The JADU may be rented, but not for less than 30 days, and is not intended for sale separate from the primary residence. The owner is required to live in one of the two units."

If the property has an ADU, JADU, and SFD then the owner must live in any one of the units as their primary residence.




That makes sense. Thank you for taking the time to link the updated copy. That's greatly appreciated!

Originally posted by @Doug H. :

@Isaiah Ortiz-Hoyle

The city of San Diego, has actually passed code this year which would decimate anyone who has multiple STRs in the city, via a “1 per owner” condition, limited number of permits insufficient to cover the existing STRs, a lottery system, etc.

However, the city has paused to see if the California Coastal Commission will veto that in the coastal zone, which they have before.

This is the second time in four years where the city has passed a code designed to drastically curtail STRs. Eventually, they are going to come up with one that sticks.

I would at least wait until the Coastal Commission puts forth their will on the matter, before you invested any energy into San Diego STRs.

 



Interesting to note, thank you.

Would this mean City of San Diego could mandate owners of STR's unfortunate enough to lose the permit lottery to cease hosting immediately, full-stop?

From your perspective, why did the CCC veto this code in the coastal zones previously?


@Isaiah Ortiz-Hoyle

That’s essentially it, yes. If CCC doesn’t veto it, then the City would come up with process for the permits, etc.

If they learn from Santa Monica and similar situations, they will hire 4 researchers and 2 dedicated code compliance officers. Enforcement would become, at least, self-funding, if not profitable.

I’m the past, San Diego has employed extra code compliance to pro-actively seek out opportunities to fine owners, so it’s not outside of precedent.

There is also likely to be a lot of neighbor / NIMBY reporting.

When CCC killed it in the past, their reasoning was along the lines of “STRs are essential for lower and moderate income Californians to be able to utilize the beaches held in the public trust for their use in this area.” There are very few coastal hotels in SD.

The worry is that the past bill was a total outlaw, but on the face of it, this new legislation seems less drastic. Estimates are that some 2000 existing STRs would not receive permits. Airbnb / VRBO and CCC may think “ok, 5000 STRs stay and 2000 go… that seems reasonable.”

Also, note VRBO is now part of a holding group which is much more aligned with the hotel industry’s interests….

Anyway, where this new legislation is brutal, is for investors at scale. The thirty five I have in San Diego would have to be reduced to one, if I am lucky enough to get a permit in the lottery.

Again, the city of San Diego will probably be smart enough to follow the other cities which have figured it out. On the permit app, I'll have to declare ‘everyone with a financial interest' in the LLCs, and once a permit is issued, all those people will no longer be eligible. So, there won't be an LLC dodge.

Originally posted by @Dan Heuschele :

ADUs and JADUs are not for STRs.  They can be used for LTRs, but the JADU does require the owner to occupy the primary unit to be able to rent the JADU as an LTR.  This Owner Occupied restriction does not apply to ADUs.  

@Doug H. adequately described the potential issue with STRs in the city of San Diego. If the ordinance goes into affect, it is unlikely you can create a new STR in the city of San Diego. The ordinance was originally scheduled to go into affect in July 2022.

My view is STR in most areas of San Diego are at high risk of being impacted by anti STR regulations.

We currently have 3 STRs in the city of San Diego (2 units at mission Beach and one unit in Pt Loma). The wife and I will be limited to one each if the regulation goes into affect. the 2 mission beach units have been STR for over 20 years. We will convert one unit (the Pt Loma unit) to 30+ day furnished rental when required.

Good luck


I see. I've read that certain areas are relatively more STR friendly, such as La Mesa. In your opinion, is it on the horizon where the county passes some form of STR regulation which impacts all cities?


Thank you for taking the time!

Originally posted by @Alex Bekeza :

@Isaiah Ortiz-Hoyle I'd highly recommend you check out the monthly meet up "Beers & Deals' in Little Italy.  I'm not an expert in ADUs (only have midwest small multi unit rentals right now) but I did meet a lot of people at that meet up who had invested in them locally and I'd imagine you could make some valuable connections there. It's ran by the hosts of "The Multifamily Takeoff" podcast.  

 Thanks for the suggestion! I'd love to check it out on the next meet day. 

Originally posted by @Justin R. :

Adding on to what @Dan Heuschele and @Doug H. said (both of which I concur with)...

There's a big difference here between single family properties and multifamily properties.  

A multifamily property (and, technically a single family property that is a duplex, but ignore that bizarre technicality for a moment) has legal separate dwelling units (DUs) for which the original builder paid DIF and other fees to create. Every one of those units can potentially be an STR under current city policy.

This is different from single family properties. In this case, only the primary DU (the original home) can be legally offered as an STR.

Basically, if someone didn't pay DIF fees to create a legal DU out of the unit, you can't STR under current policy. Both types of properties, however, can have ADU units (technically called "companion units") added to them. Those ADU units cannot be STR'd.

All this is a bit wonky, but it answers your main question: it's possible to take a multifamily property and legally STR all the units. It's also possible to illegally do it. And, to underscore what was said earlier, it's VERY unlikely to be able to legally do it starting sometime next year (unless you make other changes so it's legally treated as lodging or SRO use).

Thank you for such a concise response. I understand this isn't legal advice btw haha. I appreciate your time.