No decision yet on short-term rentals

RANCHO SANTA FE — Due to more than 60 Covenant member responses regarding the proposed draft regulations that would essentially prohibit short-term rentals in the Covenant, the Rancho Santa Fe Association Board deferred its decision to a later date. This announcement was made before the Association’s monthly meeting on Dec. 7.

The meeting was switched from a board meeting to a town hall meeting because there was a failure to post the meeting four days in advance.

More research and consideration regarding short-term rentals are still needed on the issue, so the item never appeared on the agenda.

The item was initially brought up during the November monthly board meeting. The board of directors agreed on the posting of approved rules related to short-term rentals — a way of finding accommodations highly sought after by travelers.

It’s a situation that many cities are addressing since there are no regulations on the matter. Websites like Airbnb.com list short-term rentals and many are located in residential neighborhoods.

Covenant residents were encouraged to review the proposed rules as well as submit their written comments by Dec. 2. The high response rate triggered a need to delay this discussion until a later date, which has yet to be determined.

However, board director Allen Finkelson did address the matter during the Dec. 7 town hall meeting.

“We had a larger number of comments,” Finkelson said. “We had a lot of people who opposed, a lot of in favor, and a lot asking questions.”

He added some of the negative comments addressed why the Association wasn’t leaving the matter alone. Some residents even shared that they thought the proposed short-term rental regulations was taking away property rights.

“What we want you to know is this board is in charge of enforcing our Protective Covenant — paragraph 88 defines a single-family dwelling,” said Finkelson, adding that the definition makes it quite clear that it does not provide room rental.

Finkelson said the board of directors did not make this definition — the founders made it.

It was also quite clear a Covenant resident could not rent an accessory building such as a guesthouse, which may be common in the area, he said.

“We aren’t taking away property rights — those two things are in there now,” Finkelson said. “They were not invented by us, and we have an obligation to enforce that.”

On Airbnb.com, short-term opportunity options in Rancho Santa Fe include an entire estate, guesthouses and even individual room rentals. The draft rules would essentially ban this activity since rentals were not allowed for less than 30 consecutive days. The proposed regulations also state that a lease must include an entire dwelling and not merely a portion of the residence.

Finkelson went on to say the term “enforcement” does not mean the Association will be knocking on someone’s front door wanting to know who is living in a home.

“What it (enforcement) means is if we get complaints about something we will investigate those complaints to see if there is a Covenant violation,” he said.

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