Ann Gardner | Via Latina
Councilmembers Terry Sinnott and Dwight Worden got strong feedback at the August 1 council meeting that Phase One of a proposed phased approach to allowing and regulating short term rentals (STRs) in Del Mar did not address the intensity of use and was “too lenient.”
Sinnott and Worden are serving as a Council subcommittee to come up with regulations that might convince the community that complaints over the increasing number of rentals of less than 30 days in the City’s residential zones could be resolved. Worden volunteered to work on the issue even though he was one of two Council votes supporting an outright ban saying he was happy to participate ”as long as it is understood I may not change my position.” In their first report they identified STR problems as:
Disrupting neighborhoods by their bad behavior; the number and frequency are changing the fabric of neighborhoods from residential to visitor-serving and the City has depended on anecdotal feedback and does not know the extent of the disruption
Phase One of the proposed phased approach specified a two-night minimum stay and 52 maximum stays per year for STRs in residential areas. The “critical success indicator” would be based on complaints from neighbors exceeding a certain number. The basic premise of the approach was to “start slow” to see if the problems could be resolved by requiring a permit, adequate parking and good neighbor rules; limiting occupancy and enforcing complaints - before going to a second level of regulations. The message from many residents and a majority of the Council was no, “ratchet it up.”
Councilmember Al Corti said the issue was one of the “more difficult” he has faced on the Council saying that he tended to “side with Dwight” but worried about enforcement. He called the first proposal “way too soft” and wanted a closer look at phases 3 and 4. Phase 3 limits short term rentals to a minimum of 13 nights; Phase 4 limits rentals to a 29-night minimum. The higher levels all include tracking the number of STRs per zone. Councilmember Mosier said Phase One “wouldn’t accomplish anything; (we can) try serious regulations and if it doesn’t work I would support banning.” Sinnott and Worden said they would look into how other coastal cities with stricter regulations were handling enforcement.
Del Mar is currently under an emergency moratorium banning any new short term rentals in order to investigate the possibility of allowing and regulating rentals of less than 30 days in our residential zones. STRs are not recognized in the City’s existing zoning code and are considered a relatively new phenomenon fueled by vacation sites such as VRBO and their investment potential. According to a City legal consultant who spoke at the meeting any phase of the regulations could be tested on existing STRs as a “pilot program” during the moratorium without changing the community plan or related zoning , then rejected or changed if the trial regulations did not meet the community’s “success criteria.” New STRs would continue to be banned during this pilot as long as it is conducted during the moratorium, which can be extended by Council for a total of almost 18 more months. The complete staff report can be found on the City website, August 1 Agenda and Staff Report (Item 6), and the Council meeting can be viewed on the website’s Watch Meetings Live and On Demand.