Short-term rentals allowed at resort

Short-term rentals allowed at resort
The Carlsbad City Council approves short-term rentals for two buildings at the Omni La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad during their meeting on Tuesday. Photo by Steve Puterski

CARLSBAD — A hot-button issue concerning short-term rentals was approved Tuesday by the City Council.

The council passed an ordinance, 3-2, to allow the third and fourth condominiums at the La Costa Resort and Spa Master Plan Area. The council opted to allow the Balboa and Cortez buildings to enter into short-term rentals even though the structures fall outside the coastal zone.

Council members approved the coastal zone, the only legal area in the city for short-term rentals, on May 5, 2015, and went into effect June 4.

Two homeowner association’s for the buildings voted, and approved, to amend their Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&R) to allow the rentals and to request consideration from the council to be included in the zone. According to several of those residents/owners, each vote passed by a “vast majority.”

The city confirmed 80 percent voted in favor in the Balboa building and 61 percent for the Cortez building.

One reason, several owners who spoke at the meeting said, is the rest of the resort was already included in the previous legislation and approving this ordinance would allow the entire resort to be equals.

The buildings consist of 48 units each and many owners said the residences were specifically designed for rental opportunities. For example, one speaker said her unit has a small refrigerator, one similar to those of college dorm rooms, and the lack of washers and dryers on site is another factor not suitable for long-term living.

Opponents, meanwhile, said they are concerned with noise, excess vehicles, security and trash as reasons why the council should not pass the ordinance.

One woman said if the ordinance is passed, what will stop the council from continuing to amend and extend the zoning.

“These are all investors, they are people who live there,” Mary Luke, an 11-year resident, said. “I am not asking, I am begging, don’t change the law.”

Assistant to the City Manager Jason Haber, who reported to the council, said the two buildings are 1,200 feet from the nearest residential neighbor.

Assistant City Manager Gary Barberio said the situation is unique and doesn’t prevent another entity from making a similar request, but the decision ultimately lays with the council.

Mayor Matt Hall, said he is in favor of property rights, and said he would not allow for the zone to ever expand. A current HOA president, Hall said it is up to the property owners to govern themselves and supported amending the ordinance.

Councilmember Michael Schumacher, meanwhile, said banning short-term rentals is going to be effective. In addition, he said he doesn’t see a slippery slope because of such a unique situation.

Schumacher said it is already nearly impossible to enforce those residents who engage in short-term rentals.

Councilmember Mark Packard said he was swayed by the fact the initial design was not for long-term residents and the 80 percent vote amending the CC&Rs.

Councilmember Keith Blackburn said the issue is a “slippery slope” is approved. He channeled advice from the late Bud Lewis, former mayor, who told him, “whatever you do for one group of people, you better be prepared to do for all groups of people.”

Lorraine Wood, in her third year on the council, said she is also against the action as she feels the council could be swayed to allow others to follow suit.

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