Scott Renner | Via Alta
No introduction, no attention getter, no beating around the bush. Ban short-term rentals in the city of Del Mar. That’s what my emotions want me to write. However, I believe in property rights, balance, and the rights of others who think differently from me. Consequently, I know this is not a reasonable stance and will relinquish it. But what got me to make such a one sided statement. Answer: living next door to a short-term rental.
Approximately three years ago the home next to us sold. Nothing in the time since calling Del Mar my home, from increased community traffic, busier beaches, and longer work commute times, all of which are typical changes expected from living in an area as popular as North County, have negatively altered my quality of life in this town. Del Mar has always been an oasis, a place I could return to and relax after a busy day at work and enjoy quiet weekends with family and friends. However, for the past three years, I never really know to what I’m returning.
Each new family or multiple families renting the home next door are on “vacation mode.” Since the home has a pool, it is often in use from early to midmorning throughout the day into early evening or beyond. I cannot count the number of times I’ve asked the families staying there to turn down the outdoor music (this last Christmas morning is my most memorable). Since dogs are allowed, our dogs have to regularly get used to the new dogs when they have arrived. Still in the process of raising two children and with a pool in our backyard as well, I get making noise - we have done so and will continue to do so from time-to-time. However, a family actually living there, while they certainly would be using that pool, entertaining, and living their daily lives far from silently, would do so in a manner quite different from one or more families paying good money on vacation mode and getting the most out of their time. I understand and respect this. However, this is not consistent within a long-term single family neighborhood. The use of this home has absolutely changed the vibe of my neighborhood from one of tranquil living to a fast-paced, 3-bedroom “hotel” planted next door to our home.
I am not an expert on local zoning laws or the legalities of short-term rentals, but to my knowledge the single family zoning of the hillside of our city certainly does not encourage short-term rental use. The Del Mar hillside has always been primarily families living in homes on a long-term basis, whether or not they were renting or owners.
The key difference between an occupying-owner and absentee-owner looking to rent their home on a short-term basis is that while an owner looks at his or her home as an investment, this investment revolves around living in the home, establishing a community connection, respecting one’s neighbors and the surrounding community. Having families using a home on a short-term basis (5 to 10 days or less) completely violates the quality of life I have had an opportunity to experience in Del Mar.
Living in Del Mar for 45 of my 52 years has been a blessing. Anyone living in an area long enough will experience change, and in order to be happy one must accept this change. I have accepted, and in many cases been very happy about all the changes I’ve seen in my time here. However, this change, this subtle movement in the direction of our community I find great difficulty in supporting; so much so I’m moved to write this article. I hope that there are others in my community feeling as I do. If not, I certainly accept that we may be moving in the direction where many homes on the hillside turn into short-term rentals creating a completely different community than I have come to understand Del Mar to be. The question for me (and possibly other residents) becomes do we want to be part of a community emphasizing short-term occupancy over the rights of the residents calling Del Mar their year-around home, or do we take steps to stop short term rentals from happening in our community? I look forward to the communities’ response.