South San Francisco officials have established policies regulating short-term rentals in an attempt to track and manage business on Airbnb and other popular rental websites.

The South San Francisco City Council approved a set of rules during a meeting Wednesday, June 12, intended to allow homeowners to rent their properties online while still preserving the broader community’s quality of life.

Similar discussions have swept across the Peninsula recently, as communities grapple with the rentals which are simultaneously becoming more popular for users and troublesome for officials, according to video of the meeting.

Following substantial previous discussions by councilmembers as well as the Planning Commission, South San Francisco officials finally landed on a set of policies determined to address the interests of all parties.

“I think these regulations are appropriate, they are timely, and I think the city really should have something in place,” said Principal Planner Tony Rozzi, who presented the regulation proposal to officials.

Under terms of the approval, property owners can list rooms for an unlimited amount of time if the landlord lives on the premises, or up to 90 days per year if the owner isn’t present. Rented apartments are not allowed to be listed on the online platforms.

Rozzi said the policy was developed in an effort to minimize disruptions for neighbors living in an apartment building, while preserving the available housing stock in South San Francisco and also allowing property owners to determine the most appropriate use of their land.

“The idea is we don’t want to see our housing stock become permanent rental units on short-term rental platforms,” he said.

Those who wish to rent their properties online will be required to file for a permit and business license and also pay transient occupancy tax, which will be collected by the rental website.

Renters must also assure trash, noise and parking do not cause headaches for the surrounding neighborhood, but additional parking spaces will not need to be provided on a rented property.

The terms approved in South San Francisco are similar to regulations considered in Millbrae, Half Moon Bay, San Bruno and other local jurisdictions.

Resident Mina Richardson, who is also on the school board, said she appreciated South San Francisco officials taking action.

“I’m happy to see this action by council and this contributes to our quality of life,” she said.

John Pierce, who regularly rents one of the units on the property where he lives, said he appreciated the ability to continue listing on Airbnb which he considers a useful source of additional income while accommodating those who need a temporary place to stay.

Pierce said he also is careful to assure he is not upsetting those living nearby, which has paid great dividends in effectively operating a rental property.

“My own personal experience is that there hasn’t been any complaints from neighbors, or any difficulty,” he said.

As officials were able to hash out most terms of the regulations with relative ease, a question still lingers over whether the rentals should be allowed in condominiums, duplexes or other privately-owned units with shared walls.

While most of the rentals would need to comply with the regulations in a homeowners association or condominium ownership agreement, officials determined ultimately to establish the policy disallowing rentals in such units with an opportunity to further revise the regulation later if necessary.

Councilmembers agreed further discussion is in order to decide whether condominiums or other similar units will be eventually allowed on the platform, and the approved policy will be reviewed for effectiveness after one year.

In the immediate term though, Councilwoman Flor Nicolas said she thinks the new regulations will help officials get a handle on the industry.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” she said.

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