59°

San Diego
Weather

Accessibility Tools

  • Check if your spelling is correct, or try removing filters.
  • Remove quotes around phrases to match each word individually: "blue drop" will match less than blue drop.
  • You can require or exclude terms using + and -: big +blue drop will require a match on blue while big blue -drop will exclude results that contain drop.

Short-Term Residential Occupancy (STRO)

(Updated on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022)

Important:  Unless you have an ACTIVE Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) Certificate, you will be unable to complete a STRO application when the application period opens.  This includes hosts that use a hosting platform to remit TOT on their behalf. We recommend you review the Active TOT Open Data information to confirm you have a TOT certificate. If you do not have a TOT certificate, you can apply for one at the Transient Occupancy Registration Certificate website. For additional information, please visit the TOT website.

 

The application period for all STRO license tiers is now open. The Tier 3 & Tier 4 license application period will close on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, at 5 p.m. The Tier 1 and Tier 2 license application period will remain open indefinitely.  There is no priority given for hosts who submit an application early. All accurate & completed applications for Tier 3 & Tier 4 will be entered into the lottery once the application period closes on Nov. 30, 2022.

 

Additionally, the STRO Administration team created the following informational videos to help host with the application process:  

STRO Timeline

The STRO Ordinance requires a license for all STRO of a dwelling unit, or part thereof, for less than one month within the City of San Diego. To determine if your property is located within the City of San Diego, reference the City of San Diego Council District Map. If your dwelling unit falls within the nine (9) Council Districts on the map, the STRO Ordinance will apply. There are four (4) license types with varying requirements on the number of days and type of dwelling available for the STRO. A host may only hold one license and may not operate more than one dwelling unit for STRO at a time; licenses are not transferrable between ownership or location/dwelling unit.

A host may obtain a maximum of one license at a time in one of the following four (4) STRO license tiers:

Tier 1
Part-Time

Tier 2
Home Sharing
Tier 3
Whole Home
(excluding Mission Beach)
Tier 4
Mission Beach Whole Home

Rented for an aggregate of 20 days or less per year

The owner or permanent resident does not need to reside onsite during the STRO

Renting a room or rooms in the home for more than 20 days per year so long as the owner or permanent resident resides onsite

The owner or permanent resident may be absent from the permanent residence during the STRO for up to 90 days per calendar year

Home sharing includes duplex properties and eligible accessory dwelling units  when the host resides onsite

Rentals for more than 20 days per year where the owner or permanent resident does not reside onsite.   To determine your dwelling unit's Community Planning Area (CPA), reference the City of San Diego Community Plans Map.

If your dwelling unit is within the Mission Beach CPA, you would fall into Tier 4 Mission Beach Whole Home. Any other CPA would fall into Tier 3 Whole Home (excluding Mission Beach).

The number of licenses issued will not exceed 1% of San Diego's total housing units outside the Mission Beach Community Planning Area*

Guest two-night minimum stay required

The number of licenses issued will not exceed 30% of the Mission Beach Community Planning Area*

Guest two-night minimum stay required

*Based on the most recent Demographic and Socioeconomic Housing estimates issued by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) rounded up to the nearest whole number

Application Process

Application Submission and Lottery Dates

The license application period is now open.   Apply for a STRO License to create your account and submit a STRO license application. The application period for Tier 3 and Tier 4 applications will close on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022. The lottery will be conducted, and the results will be announced by Friday, Dec. 16, 2022. It is recommended for citizens to sign up to receive STRO updates by entering your email address in the "Receive Email Updates" section on the top right side of this page.   

PDF icon STRO Application Information Sheet

OpenData Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) Information

OpenData Rental Unit Business Tax (RUBT) Information

STRO License Application Video

PDF icon Rule Promulgation - Pending Enforcement Action

The Office of the City Treasurer has established a lottery application process. Prioritization will be given to "good actors" as outlined in this PDF icon Tier 3 and Tier 4 Good Actor Prioritization memo issued Jan. 7, 2022, and further clarified in the PDF icon Tier 3 and Tier 4 Good Actor Prioritization Clarification memo issued July 13, 2022, to City Council. If the total number of Tier 3 and/or Tier 4 applications received is greater than the number of licenses available, applications will be chosen via a lottery.

Tier 3 and Tier 4 license issuance will be done via computer-generated randomization and will be conducted by a third party or department independent of the Office of the City Treasurer. The lottery will be conducted as follows:

  • Tier 4 license issuance will be based on simple randomization; all license recipients will be selected a random
  • Tier 3 license issuance will be performed via a stratified lottery. Stratification of the applicant pool will be completed based on the Community Planning Area (CPA) in which the STRO property is located. The license recipients will still be selected at random within each CPA. The percentage of licenses issued in each CPA will be proportionate to the percentage of applications received for STRO properties in each CPA.

Additionally, City Council has approved the following application and license fees:

  Application Fee License Fee
Tier  1 

$           25   

$           100   
Tier  2 

$           25   

$           225   
Tier  3 

$           70   

$         1000   
Tier  4 

$           70   

$         1000   

Note that application fees are non-refundable, and licenses expire two (2) years from the date of issuance and may be renewed in accordance with section 510.0106(d) of the Ordinance.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The City of San Diego Office of the City Treasurer provides this information as general guidance on the City’s Short-Term Residential Occupancy Ordinance. This information is provided as a public service and should not be construed or relied upon in any way as legal advice or a legal opinion. Although all efforts are taken to keep content timely and accurate, there may be a delay in the time it takes to correct any errors brought to our attention. Please refer directly to the full text of the PDF icon Ordinance.

General Questions

1. What is Short-term Residential Occupancy (STRO)?

STRO means the occupancy of a dwelling unit or part thereof for less than one month. The STRO ordinance defines a month as a period of consecutive days from the first calendar day of occupancy in any month to the same calendar day in the next month following, or the last day of the next month following if no corresponding calendar day exists. For example, a check-in on January 31 and check out on February 28 would be a month stay, whereas a check-in on February 1 and check out on February 28 would not be a month.

2. Does the STRO Ordinance apply to all zones?

Yes, the Ordinance applies to all dwelling units used for short-term residential occupancy in the City of San Diego regardless of base zoning designation.

3. What do I need to do to legally operate an STRO property?

If your property is located in the City of San Diego and is rented out for less than one month per guest stay, you must obtain a Transient Occupancy Tax Certificate and collect and remit Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT). This applies to STRO properties of any kind (i.e. houses, condos, rooms, or spaces) rented directly by the owner/operator, by property management companies or via internet travel services.
If you are renting property for less than a month at a time in the City of San Diego and do not have a TOT Certificate, you are not in compliance with the San Diego Municipal Code (SDMC); there are no exceptions.

Additionally, property owners who rent out all or a portion of their property for more than 6 days in a calendar year are responsible for remitting Rental Unit Business Tax to the City of San Diego. For questions regarding TOT and/or Rental Unit Business Tax, please visit the following web pages:

Effective May 1, 2023 a STRO license will be required to operate a STRO within the City of San Diego.

4. Can I rent out my Accessory Dwelling Unit (aka “granny flat”) as an STRO?

No. The San Diego Municipal Code prohibits using ADUs for short-term rental and will result in a Code violation. Only permitted companion units in existence before the September 2017 prohibition may be used as an STRO.

5. What types of units are prohibited as STRO units?

The following are prohibited for use as STRO:

  • Income-restricted affordable housing units;
  • Student housing, dormitories and Single-Room-Occupancy buildings;
  • Legally established Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs); which are a specific type of "inlaw" or "granny flat" approved by the Development Services Department;
  • Sleeping quarters in most shipping containers and outdoor areas, including tipis (teepees) and tree houses;
  • Sleeping quarters in vans or recreational vehicles (RVs). RVs are not considered residential units;
  • Non-residential areas within buildings, such as living/sleeping quarters added in garages without proper permits;
  • Commercial office/retail or industrial (warehouse) spaces; and
  • Boats or similar watercraft.

6. Can a Live/Work unit be used for STRO?

You can host short-term rentals in the residential portion of a live/work unit or "artist live/work unit," if you are a permanent resident of that unit and both live in AND host short-term rental guests exclusively in the "live" area of the unit. Short-term residential occupancy (e.g. sleeping, lounging/resting, or cooking areas) is NOT allowed in the "work" portion of the live/work or artist live/work unit. Additionally, you may not reside in the "work" area and use the "live" area of the live/work or artist live/work unit for STRO.

7. Can my commercial or industrial building be used for STRO?

No, STRO may only be hosted in areas permitted for residential use. For example, short-term rentals may not be held in an institutional, commercial or industrial building unless a specific portion of the building is authorized as a residential dwelling unit.

8. Can I use my recreational vehicle, camper, or a temporary structure on my property for STRO?

No. Vehicles (including RVs and Camper Vans) and temporary structures (such as tents,
sheds, tree houses, etc.) may not be used for STRO. 

9. What if I operate my dwelling unit as an STRO and do not have a license after the implementation date?

Using a dwelling unit for STRO without a license after the implementation date is a
violation of the STRO ordinance and will likely result in regulatory actions. The actions may include the issuance of a Notice of Violation with an assessment of penalties. Operating an STRO without a license will jeopardize a host’s ability to obtain an STRO license in the future.

10. The Office of the City Treasurer may require proof that my dwelling unit is the host’s primary residence for a Tier 2 Homeshare license. What is considered acceptable proof of residence?

Proof of residence may be any of the following, provided that it shows the host name and dwelling unit address as the host mailing address: mailing label from a magazine, DMV registration, payment coupon (return portion) from any of the following SDG&E, phone, cable, water and sewer bill, etc.

11. What is my platform doing to comply with the new regulations?

It is recommended you discuss with the platform(s) you use about available assistance and requirements for continued use of their websites. 

License Tier Scenarios

1. What is the difference between home share and a whole home short-term residential occupancy?

Home share means the short-term residential occupancy occurs in either the host’s primary residence or a separate dwelling unit on the same premises as the host’s primary residence. This may include duplex, triplex, or quadplex properties as well as eligible accessory dwelling units when the host resides on-site.

Whole home means short-term residential occupancy of the host’s entire dwelling unit while the host is not physically present and residing in the dwelling unit.

2. What if I plan to home share in my permanent residence but do whole-home rentals during the summer months when I am away; what type of license should I apply for?

If you are the permanent resident, reside onsite and are absent for 90 days or less per
calendar year, you would apply for a Tier 2 license. 

3. As part of home share, can I rent out several rooms separately?

Yes, if you are renting the room(s) for more than 20 days per year and are the permanent resident that is absent no more than 90 days per calendar year, you would obtain a Tier 2 license for the dwelling unit.

4. If I were to rent my house to college students during the school year and plan to STRO my home during the summer months; what type of license should I apply for? 

Tier 3 (outside Mission Beach) or Tier 4 (within Mission Beach) license depending on where your property is located as the host does not reside onsite for at least 275 days per calendar year. 

If the college student met the requirements of a host, the college student could apply as the host. In this case, a Tier 2 license would apply if the college student resided onsite at least 275 days per year. With a Tier 2 license, the STRO could be rented as a whole home STRO for up to 90 days per calendar year when the host does not reside onsite. 

If the host was planning on operating an STRO for 20 days or less per year, a Tier 1 license would be applicable. A host does not need to reside onsite with a Tier 1 license. 

Application Process

1. When can I apply for an STRO license?

The license application period is now open.  Click Please apply for a STRO license  to create your account and submit a STRO license application.  The application period for Tier 3 and Tier 4 applications will close on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022. The lottery will be conducted, and the results will be announced by Friday, Dec. 16, 2022.   It is recommended for citizens to sign up to receive STRO updates by entering your email address in the "Receive Email Updates" section on the top right side of this page.

2. Who can apply for an STRO license?

A host is defined as a natural person with the legal right to occupy the dwelling unit and allow short-term residential occupancy. A host may include the owner or a lessee if the lease allows for subleasing for less than one month. A host may only hold one license at a time, and a host may not operate more than one dwelling unit for STRO at a time within the City of San Diego.

3. What are the license application requirements?

All hosts must have a Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) certificate, a Rental Unit Business Tax account, if applicable, and must be in current compliance with the City’s TOT requirements (i.e., not owing back taxes for unpaid TOT).

License applications will not be processed for dwelling units with pending enforcement actions issued by the City for violations of any provision of the San Diego Municipal Code.    PDF icon See Regulation Defining a Pending Enforcement Action

4. What is the cost to obtain a Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) Certificate?

There is no cost to obtain a TOT Certificate. Please visit the TOT webpage for additional
information about TOT compliance.

5. The Operator's name on my TOT Certificate is an LLC; however, per the STRO Ordinance, a Host cannot be an LLC. Do I need to change the Operator name on my TOT Certificate to match the Host name on my STRO application/license? If the names differ, how will I receive priority points for TOT payments I have remitted in the past?

No; Operator has a different definition than a Host. For purposes of TOT, an Operator is defined as the Person who is the proprietor of the Hotel, Recreational Vehicle Park, or Campground, whether in the capacity of owner, lessee, sublessee, mortgagee in possession, licensee, or any other capacity. “Operator” includes a managing agent, a resident manager, or a resident agent, of any type or character, other than an employee without management responsibility. (PDF icon SDMC §35.0102).

For purposes of STRO, a Host is defined as a natural person with the legal right to occupy the dwelling unit and allow short-term residential occupancy. (PDF icon SDMC §510.0102) A Host and Operator may be the same but are not required to be under the TOT or STRO requirements.

Under the TOT requirements, an Operator is required to maintain their records; this includes records of TOT remittance to the City. During the STRO license application process, Hosts/applicants will be required to upload these records to support the issuance of priority points for TOT past payments – only the Operator would have these records. Additionally, all Hosts/applicants will be required to certify under penalty of perjury that the information included in their STRO license application is accurate.

6. How much is the Rental Unit Business Tax?

Rental Unit Business Tax comprises a base fee and a per unit fee. The total Rental Unit
Business Tax for your property depends on the number of units. View the Rental Unit Business Tax fees table.

7. I am a property manager that manages multiple STROs in the City of San Diego. Can I be the host of them all or how would they need to be licensed?

No, a host may only hold one license at a time and may not operate more than one dwelling unit for short-term residential occupancy at a time within the City of San Diego. A host is defined as a natural person who has the legal right to occupy the dwelling unit and to allow short-term residential occupancy. A host could be the owner of the property or a lessee that has the legal right to occupy the dwelling unit and to allow subleasing for less than a month. Each dwelling unit used as an STRO requires its own license and its own host. 

The property manager can be designated the local contact who shall be responsible for actively discouraging and preventing any nuisance activity at the premises. The local contact shall respond to a complainant in person or by telephone within one hour for all reported complaints and shall take action to resolve the matter. 

8. If I own multiple dwelling units that I use as STROs, will one license be sufficient for all the properties, or does each dwelling unit require its own license?

No. One license will not be sufficient for all owned properties operated as an STRO. An STRO license is required for each dwelling unit used for short-term residential occupancy. If an owner has multiple dwelling units used as STROs, the owner will need to designate a lessee as a host who has the legal right to occupy the dwelling unit and to allow subleasing for less than a month. This lessee will have to apply to be the host of an STRO. The owner can be the designated local contact who shall be responsible for actively discouraging and preventing any nuisance activity at the premises. The local contact shall respond to a complainant in person or by telephone within one hour for all reported complaints and shall take action to resolve the matter.

10. What is the fee to obtain an STRO license?

Application and License fees were approved by City Council in October 2021 and are as follows:

  Application Fee License Fee
Tier 1 $25.00 $100.00
Tier 2 $25.00 $225.00
Tier 3 $70.00 $1,000.00
Tier 4 $70.00 $1,000.00

Lottery

1. Does the lottery apply to all license tiers?

No, the lottery applies only to hosts that submit applications for a Whole Home Tier 3 or Tier 4 license.

2. I want to obtain a Tier 3 or a Tier 4 license, but a limited number of licenses will be issued. What is the process to determine who will get a Tier 3 or Tier 4 license?

If the total number of Tier 3 and/or Tier 4 applications received exceeds the number of licenses available, applications will be chosen via a random lottery. Tier 3 and Tier 4 license issuance will be done via computer-generated randomization and will be conducted by a third party or departments independent of the Office of the City Treasurer. The lottery will be conducted as follows:

  • Tier 4 license issuance will be based on simple randomization; all license recipients will be selected a random

     

  • Tier 3 license issuance will be performed via a stratified lottery. Stratification of the applicant pool will be completed based on the Community Planning Area (CPA) in which the STRO property is located. The license recipients will still be selected at random within each CPA. The percentage of licenses issued in each CPA will be proportionate to the percentage of applications received for STRO properties in each CPA.

     

3. How will the lottery process work?

The application period for all STRO license is now open. The Tier 3 & Tier 4 application period will close on November 30th. If the total number of Tier 3 or Tier 4 applications received are greater than the number of licenses available, completed applications will be weighted for "good actor" priority as outlined in this PDF icon memo.    The lottery will be conducted by December 16th 2022.  

Tier 3 and Tier 4 license issuance will be done via a computer-generated randomization and will be conducted by a third-party or a departments independent of the Office of the City Treasurer. The lottery will be conducted as follows:

  • Tier 4 license issuance will be based on a simple randomization; all license recipients will be selected at random
  • Tier 3 issuance will be performed via a stratified lottery.   Stratification of the applicant pool will be completed based on the Community Planning Area (CPA) in which the STRO property is located.   The license recipients will still be selected at random within each CPA.   The percentage of licenses issued in each CPA will be proportionate to the percentage of applications received for STRO properties in each CPA.  

4. If a hosting platform remits Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) on my behalf, how do I obtain proof of TOT payment?

For those hosts that use Airbnb:

Airbnb Hosts have access to payout information related to bookings conducted on the Airbnb platform, including the gross earnings received and occupancy taxes collected for every transaction. For information on how to access this information, please visit Airbnb's help page.

For those hosts that use Vacation Rentals By Owner (Vrbo): 

The host will have to adjust their check-in/check-out dates for each report to whatever date range is determined to be used for the application information per year. These reports are exported as an Excel spreadsheet, so hosts will need to save them as a PDF in order to upload them for the application process. 

5. If I utilize a property management company to remit TOT on my behalf, what documentation will be required as proof of TOT payment and booking activity?

The TOT code requires all Operators to maintain records of tax collection and payment. Summary records of gross rent, deductions, taxable rent and TOT collected and remitted to the City by month would be acceptable documentation for proof of TOT payment. Documentation to support booking activity would include any documentation that shows room nights booked by date.

6. If I apply for a Tier 3 or Tier 4 license and am not selected via the lottery, can I apply for a Tier 1 or Tier 2 license?

A host can only hold one license at a time. However, if a Tier 3 or Tier 4 host is not selected in the lottery, they can reapply for a Tier 1 or Tier 2 license pending their business model changes and meets the requirements of the Tier they are applying for. A new application will need to be submitted, including payment of the Tier 1 or Tier 2 application and license fee. The Tier 3 or Tier 4 application fee is non-refundable.

7. To meet the criteria for lottery priority points as outlined in the Tier 3 or Tier 4 Good Actor Prioritization memo, does the proof of booking activity and proof of TOT payment need to be in the host’s name or just for the dwelling unit itself?

Proof of TOT and booking activity should be provided for the specific dwelling unit listed on the STRO application; it does not need to list the host’s/applicant’s name. Additionally, the Operator's name on the TOT certificate also does not need to match the Host’s name on the STRO application.