Ann Gardner | Via Latina
On a 4 to 1 vote (Mayor Sinnott voting no) the Del Mar City Council agreed to allow short term rentals of not less than 7 days and for no more than a total of 28 days a year in ALL residential areas in the City. The decision does not affect rentals of 30 or more days. The motion directed staff “to move forward” with preparation of necessary code amendments and, if needed, California Environmental Quality Act review and Local Coastal Permit amendments. The Council will discuss the question of a “soft landing” for property owners who currently operate STRs, possible exemptions for unique properties in visitor-serving areas and permits, at their July 17 meeting. That meeting will be the last before their August break. It is the Council’s desire to have a new working policy in place before the current moratorium on new short term rentals expires in February 2018.
The vote was taken after more than an hour of public input, almost exclusively from a number of STR supporters whose message continued to center on the “lack of data” on the negative consequences of short term rentals, the need for property owners to earn extra income and tourist revenue. Their attorney Cory Briggs spoke briefly to clarify that 1) the City would be served a lawsuit shortly and 2) his client the Del Mar Alliance “would be happy to be part of an effort to regulate short term rentals. ” Asked if his client supported a limit on the number of days, he responded “no limit.”
The Save Our Neighborhood Del Mar group limited its presentation to one speaker who urged the Council to “put the general STR policy in place as quickly as possible,” since it gives “residents and property owners certainty, and allows them to make plans for future use of their property that they can be confident will comply with the law. ” The group has stressed its concern about the loss of housing for residents, including long term renters, and neighborhoods becoming hotel-like environments. The speaker also stressed a new short term policy would “allow all residential properties in all residential zones to legally engage in short-term rentals within the stated limits. ”
The decision marks the end of an over two-year process of community input and many Council meetings on the contentious issue, including an interpretation on April 17, 2017 by Council that the Del Mar Municipal Code does not allow short term rentals for less than 30 days in the City’s residential neighborhoods. Del Mar has many visitor serving amenities, including current and planned hotels, time shares, ample beach access along Coast Blvd. with 2. 2 miles of beach and excellent lifeguard services for the 2 million annual beach visitors, seaside public parks and coast to crest trails. It is anticipated that the new policy allowing limited short term rentals will pass Coastal Commission review if needed. A staff report completed by the Commission acknowledged that short term rentals “have resulted in significant adverse impacts to the character of residential communities and in some cases have eliminated valuable affordable housing in coastal cities,” clearly a potential conflict with the Commission’s goal to provide lower cost visitor facilities.