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Del Mar to make vacation rentals legal

DEL MAR — It’s no secret that some Del Mar residents have for years rented out all or part of their homes, primarily to generate a little extra income and generally during peak tourist times such as summer or the race season.
However, operating these short-term rentals in a residence is not listed as an allowed use in any of the city’s zoning districts.
Council members set out to change that at the May 3 meeting, unanimously agreeing to amend the municipal code to specify exactly where in the city a residence can be leased for 30 days or less, the length of time used to define a short-term or vacation rental.
The move comes as part of a larger plan to apply the transient occupancy tax to short-term rentals. But to do so requires voter approval.
A measure known as Proposition J will be part of the June 8 election. It asks residents if they support the tax, which currently applies to hotel visits. It is estimated that broadening the tax to include short-term rentals could add more than $180,000 annually to the general fund to help pay for city services, including those used by visitors.
Resident Hershell Price, who opposes Proposition J, said the measure is an expansion of the business district into neighborhoods. “It is
further regulation of our homes when further regulation is not needed,” he said. “Don’t make our homes hotels.”
Council members said applying the TOT to short-term rentals is simply making legal something that has been practiced for years.
“This is correcting a deficit that I think should have been corrected long ago,” Councilman Don Mosier said. Councilwoman Crystal Crawford agreed.
“Folks who are doing this are doing so illegally right now,” she said. “They may not realize that. So we’re offering an opportunity to do this without having to be worried about that. It’s a correction of a gap in our ordinances.”
The amended law will also allow for better enforcement.
“As soon as you get the wrong renter then you need enforcement capability because things can really go bad quickly,” Mosier said.
Neighboring cities such as Solana Beach, Encinitas and Oceanside apply the TOT to short-term rentals.