DEL MAR — As city officials work to find the best way to address short-term rentals, which some say are changing community character and causing noise, trash and parking problems, property owners who rent their homes for less than 30 days often want to know how bad the situation is.
If links on the city’s webpage that allow residents to submit a complaint are any indication, it would appear the problems are minimal.
No one has called a hotline and there have been 11 written complaints submitted by six different people via email or an online form in the six months since those complaint submittal options became available.
Three complaints were about public nuisance issues such as parking and noise and all have been resolved, Planning Manager Tracy Elliot Yawn said.
The other eight allege violations to a moratorium initially adopted in April 2016 that bars any new vacation rentals from entering the market. All but three have been resolved. Some were found to be in compliance with the moratorium, Yawn said.
The others are being investigated and the property owners have been notified, she added.
Residents have always been able to contact city officials to file complaints about short-term rentals. The website links were established Sept. 1, 2016, to make the process easier and give the city a way to better track information, Yawn stated in an email.
“Once a complaint is received, staff will perform an investigation and report back to the complainant on the status of the investigation,” she added.
The website states the links should be used to register a complaint “that is potentially in violation of the (moratorium) ordinance,” but Yawn said they can be used to report other issues as well.
People began renting out their homes, especially during the summer, San Diego County Fair and horse racing seasons, long before Del Mar became a city more than 50 years ago. But the practice has become more commonplace with the advent of online booking sites such as Airbnb and Vacation Rental by Owner.
Many vacation rental owners say they depend on the additional income but would welcome commonsense regulations. They say banning them in residential neighborhoods, as has been suggested, violates their property rights.
Such a prohibition would likely also be challenged by the California Coastal Commission, which sees short-term rentals as an affordable option to beach access, especially in cities such as Del Mar, where hotel rates are often expensive.
City Council recently asked the Planning Commission to determine whether the zoning code or community plan allow short-term rentals in residential areas. Last month, after three hours of discussion and public testimony, the panel determined they could not weigh in because short-term rentals are not defined in either document.
The issue will likely return to council for some sort of a decision in the near future because some council members have said they do not favoring continuing the moratorium.
It is worth noting the online links were created after the peak summer seasons. Yawn said the complaints received to date are not about properties isolated in one area. They were about short-term rentals throughout the city.
Before the online links were established, people submitted complaints about parking and noise but they didn’t always indicate they were associated with short-term rentals, which made tracking the issues difficult, Yawn said.