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Commentary:
Neighborhood Business?
Joel Holliday | Crest Road

How Del Mar deals with Short Term Rentals (STRs) is a major issue that is impacting residents throughout our city and will determine whether we retain the residential nature of the community that drew us here, or if commercial interests will prevail to convert our town to one of mini-hotels.

The city council has addressed this problem and approved a reasonable compromise ordinance that limits STRs at any one location in a residential zone to a minimum stay of 7 days and a total of 28 days per year. However, this ordinance is opposed by parties with a commercial interest in having a shorter minimum stay and unlimited days per year. The Coastal Commission has proposed that a shorter minimum stay and 100 days per year should be allowed. Our council, to its credit, has challenged that position.

STRs are rentals for less than 30 days. There are no limits on the amount of time each year that houses may be rented for 30 days or more. Extended house swaps and rentals for the summer or the racing season would not be limited under the City’s ordinance.

The proliferation of STRs has been stunning, due to companies such as VRBO and Airbnb using recent internet technology to make it easy for landlords and vacationers to connect. But this is just the beginning...companies have now formed to purchase houses as investments to be rented out as full time STRs.
Cities virtually everywhere are struggling to limit this surge of STRs in response to residents’ complaints of the negative impacts STRs are having on their neighborhoods.

Why should Del Mar residents be concerned about STRs?

• Del Mar is uniquely vulnerable to the explosion of STRs, because we are a small beach city facing a virtually unlimited demand for vacation rentals. What might be a nuisance to a larger city is an existential threat to our community as we know it, because most of our housing is close to a beach that is comparable to the world’s best.

• Imagine the impact of having an active STR next door. The constant turnover of renters enjoying their few days on vacation creates a level of noise, music and celebratory activity that violates the quiet enjoyment of your home and neighborhood.

• Many residents in the beach area are particularly affected by this problem, but so are residents in the hills. A 5 or 10 minute walk or drive to the beach is not a barrier to a renter.

• This threat will not be solved immediately by the passage of an ordinance. The STR industry is big business and it views STR regulations as limiting its growth and profits. It is spending huge amounts of money to lobby municipalities and states, fund initiatives and referenda, and file lawsuits all to fight STR restrictions. This is an issue that our community will have to deal with for years and will require the involvement of an active citizenry.

• As residences are purchased and turned into STRs, our city will be hollowed out as the active volunteer force of full-time residents that has created our unique community is displaced by commercially-driven absentee owners, content to have Del Mar be a city of mini-hotels.

Our homes provide us peace and comfort, and our community of friends and neighbors who volunteer to maintain and improve our city are important parts of the fabric of our lives. Please keep informed and be vigilant to protect our residential life from the corrosive effect of outside commercial interests.

 

 

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