Round 2 of short-term rental policy discussion complete

DEL MAR — Despite continued requests during an hour of public testimony and dozens more emails to rethink their approach to short-term rentals, council members at the July 17 meeting completed the second of a two-part discussion on developing policies to allow the practice in residential areas.

In a 3-1 vote, with Mayor Terry Sinnott absent, they agreed some sort of easy permit should be required for people who want to rent their property for less than 30 days.

“I think you’re making a huge mistake,” Councilman Dave Druker said. “A lot of people don’t want to have any government intrusion in their life like this.

“I just see where this is going to bite us back if we sit around here and demand that anybody who wants to rent out their place for one week or do a home swap for one week has to come and tell the city that they’re doing that,” he added.

Councilwoman Ellie Haviland said establishing a permit process will help with compliance and enforcement.

Councilman Dwight Worden said it should be limited to asking people for their names, addresses and dates of rentals, as well as confirmation they know the rules and will abide by them.

He said if people need to change a rental date they should be able to do so by email.

Worden and his colleagues all agreed there should be no requirement to obtain a business license, and there should be some exceptions for properties surrounded by existing commercial businesses.

They said they will make a decision on how best to treat timeshares after staff reviews legal documents for those units to see what uses are allowed.

Vacation rentals will be considered on a case-by-case basis when specific plans are adopted. Short-term rentals currently operating will have until approximately May 2018 to come into compliance with the new policies.

Council members also agreed it would “probably be a good idea” to hire an outside company for enforcement.

“There’s no way our staff is going to be able to do that,” Druker said.

City staff will use that information and decisions made at the first policy discussion in June to create a draft ordinance that will be presented to the Planning Commission in September.

Last month council members determined property owners in all but one residential neighborhood will be allowed to rent out their homes for less than 30 days at a time for a maximum of 28 days per year. Each rental must be at least seven days long.

Rentals will be limited to two people per bedroom, and owners must provide off-street parking and adopt a voluntary good neighbor policy. Contact information to report problems 24/7 must be made available.

Even before Del Mar became a city, property owners rented out their homes to vacationers, usually for a week or two. Many say it helps them afford their homes and provides business for local shops and restaurants.

Opponents say frequent turnover rates are causing increased traffic, parking, trash and noise problems and, most importantly, changing the fabric of residential neighborhoods.

After years of debate about how to address short-term rentals, including a failed voter initiative to tax them, council members early this year determined they are not allowed in residential neighborhoods according to the community plan and city codes.

A lawsuit has been filed.

If all goes as planned, the draft ordinance will be submitted to the California Coastal Commission for a coastal permit amendment. There is a possibility an environmental review will be required.

Council members hope to have regulations in place before a moratorium on any new short-term rentals entering the market, adopted in April 2016, expires in early February 2018.

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