- Nancy Fisher | 24th Street
Few issues in Del Mar’s history have pitted neighbors against one another as drastically as the potential regulation of short-term rentals (STRs) in our residential zones. In the Beach Colony it’s been so divisive that long-time neighbors, who often shared the same views on other hot-button issues, like how to address sea level rise, have found themselves in front of the City Council accusing their friends on either side of ruining the quality of their lives.
As we’ve heard over the last two years at City Council meetings and in the press, property owners who rent short term see regulation as a violation of their rights and a disservice to vacationers, while full-time residents see these rentals as eroding their neighborhoods, turning their formerly safe and quiet streets into commercial hotel zones.
After much discussion, including understanding the many types of STRs, the City Council recently approved an ordinance (see accompanying article) allowing rentals of no less than seven days for a total of 28 days a year, with no limit on rentals of 30 or more days. Property owners who rent are looking at their options, and although some are planning to convert their STRs to long-term rentals, others are waiting for the ordinance to be approved by the Coastal Commission as an amendment to the City’s Local Coastal Program (LCP). The Sandpiper asked property owners on both sides whether they feel the compromise goes too far, or not far enough.
Richard and Deborah Logiurato, Del Mar residents who have offered both short and long-term rentals to vacationers and students for over 30 years, do not think the compromise was fair and felt “bullied” by the City Council. “We’re fine with the minimum of seven days, but don’t agree with the 28-day maximum per year,” says Deborah. “We have strict rules for our renters, and they know that if they make noise before 9 a.m. or after 9 p.m., they won’t get their deposits back. And since we live right around the corner from both of our rentals on Coast Boulevard, we could hear them if they did otherwise.” While they agree that STRs have increased since the advent of Airbnb-type services, and they would prefer to do it “the old way,” they accept that the world is changing.
Csilla Crouch, a long-time Del Mar resident and property owner, lives with her husband and three kids in the Beach Colony. Their home, in the last few years, has been surrounded by STRs. “I feel boxed in,” she says, “because I have one STR on either side and two directly across the street. It’s a revolving door, and my children don’t know who’s who. We’re living among strangers, and it’s uncomfortable not to know who’s walking around the community.” Although she’s had to complain about noise, she says the behavior is secondary. “We used to have spontaneous block parties, and now we’ve lost half of our long-term neighbors.” When asked about the City Council’s ordinance, she replied “It’s not perfect, but I think it’s a good compromise, and I hope the Coastal Commission sees it from our perspective. We didn’t buy homes here to live in a commercial hotel zone.”
The Logiuratos and Crouches are good examples of those on each side, representing responsible renters and distraught full-time residents, but of course there are many others whose experiences have been quite different. Some, who have expressed their concerns many times during the process, described financial hardship if they were unable to rent without regulation, and others described behavior by renters that included late-night beer pong parties, amplified music, and trash left on the street.
The reality seems to fall in between, and we hope, whether the ordinance stands or is contested by the Coastal Commission, for a resolution that makes all of our residents feel that their needs were seriously considered.