The city has very rarely enforced those regulations as short-term rentals have grown in popularity. The District earns tens of millions of dollars a year in taxes on those rentals — despite the fact that they are technically illegal.

In a fiscal impact statement, DeWitt said the measure would cost the city $21.7 million in fiscal 2019, and $104.1 million through fiscal 2022, mostly from lost tax revenue if those short-term rentals are eliminated. But council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D), who championed the bill, said there was no reason to believe the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs would start enforcing zoning regulations that it has largely ignored.

Mendelson recruited the other 12 council members to sign a letter asking the city zoning commission to permit short-term rentals. After receiving the letter, the five-member commission called a special meeting and asked the D.C. Office of Planning to study the issue and recommend the necessary changes.

It wasn’t clear, however, how long it would take the zoning commission to get the recommendations from the planning office and adopt the changes.

The debate over short-term rentals has become part of a broader controversy over gentrification in the District. Critics say Airbnb, HomeAway, VRBO and similar short-term-rental companies are driving up housing costs.

But Airbnb and its allies, including many hosts, argue that people living in the city need the extra income from renting their properties to afford to stay in the District.

Home-sharing companies say the hotel industry and its unionized workers are trying to eliminate competition. About 9,000 short-term rentals operate in the District, competing with about 31,000 hotel rooms.

The rental companies say that short-term rental properties represent such a small fraction of the District’s 300,000 housing units that the overall effect on rents is minimal.