Ann Gardner | Via Latina
Neighbors Scott Renner and Gay Hugo Martinez attend November 10 Planning Commission meeting on short term rentals.
Photo Ann Gardner.
Click on photo to enlarge.
At its first public review for allowing and regulating short-term rentals, the Del Mar Planning Commission leaned toward current language in the Municipal Code that does not allow rentals of less than 30 days. Commissioner Ellen Haviland, after hearing public input, reacted negatively to comments that short-term rentals were a tradition in Del Mar. She disagreed that it has always been this way. “[The situation] has absolutely changed, and we need to come together as a community to deal with it. The current code that allows residents to earn income by renting a room in their homes or by having long-term rentals is acceptable to me,” she said. “We need to protect residents from the ease of [their neighbor turning their home] into a mini-hotel by just going online, and the adverse impacts.”
Following direction from City Council, Planning Manager Adam Birnbaum took two drafts to the Planning Commission on November 10. One added short-term rentals as an allowed use, and the second provided regulations for the use. The meeting provided a briefing for the Commission, public input, and an opportunity for possible feedback to City Council. No formal action was taken and the Commission expects to take up the issue later this month pending further study.
Twenty-nine speaker slips were submitted at the November meeting. Fifteen opposed changing the Municipal Code to allow rentals of less than 30 days. Seven supported the change, and seven felt they needed more information. The most common theme from residents opposing short-term rentals was the alarming increase of in-and-out party mode visitors and the commensurate loss of long-term residents and traditional neighborhoods. “Del Mar is at a crossroads. Are we going to stay a community where we live, work and play, or a year-round commercial tourist zone. Which direction do we want to go?” Scott Renner asked. Former Planning Commissioner Hershell Price agreed, “The future of Del Mar is at stake.”
Resident Sudeepto Roy, who has a four year old, spoke of losing the “comfort and sense of security of knowing people and even their pets” in his neighborhood. Jeff Lehman said due to the “industrialization of STRs we are going from having neighbors to [ having either party-goers or ] empty houses.” He spoke of having to call the Sheriff’s Office three times in the past due to the late-night behavior of some short-term renters.
Speakers who managed short-term rentals emphasized the use of good neighbor policies and being available to work with the City to establish reasonable rules. However both Kimberly Jackson, a manager of short-term rentals for owners, and Bruce McDermont, whose family rents to a combination of short and long-term visitors, thought the regulations suggested in the draft went too far especially when dealing with thoughtful renters. “You are lumping everyone into a big business hotel category requiring permits and inspections. It becomes onerous.”
Dave Druker, former Councilmember and Mayor, pointed out the difficulty of establishing regulations. “There is a huge market to buy and manage multiple properties for short-term rentals and make more money than renting on a monthly or yearly basis. You cannot make rules for different kinds of owners; you have to treat them all the same, and due to the industrialization of the short-term rental business it means we must ban them. It is everywhere in the community and is going to get worse. The simplest way to deal with this is to leave the ordinance as it is, to not allow short-term rentals. Just clarify our current code.”
None of the speakers suggested that residential areas be treated differently, such as allowing short-term rentals in the beach area but not in the R-1-10 area east of Camino del Mar. “What’s good for one is good for all,” Commissioner Haviland echoed.