OCEANSIDE — City Council unanimously approved a request by Councilman Christopher Rodriguez and Deputy Mayor Jack Feller for city staff to put together a comprehensive short-term vacation rental program at its Jan. 23 meeting.
Within 120 days, staff must put together the program, which Rodriguez said should take into consideration the recommendations from the short-term vacation rental ad-hoc committee and the city’s Good Neighbor Policy, which was drafted in 2016 but hasn’t been formally implemented.
“It’s time for Oceanside to stop being the ‘Wild Wild West’ when it comes to short-term vacation rentals,” Rodriguez said.
The program will “ensure compliance and accountability that will allow for an influx of additional tax revenue and more importantly structure and relief to our local residents having issues and concerns surrounding short-term vacation rentals,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez and Feller provided guidelines for the program to council. For Rodriguez, the most important guideline he included is to negotiate a contractual agreement with the platforms that market properties within Oceanside through the City Attorney’s office.
“We could require a list of potential property addresses, we could negotiate the requirement of the property before it’s uploaded on their website that they have to be licensed in our city, we could even attempt to negotiate the booking dates of those properties for audit purposes and accountability purposes,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez’s guidelines also include having staff establish an annual fee for short-term vacation rental’s property licenses to offset processing times and license approvals, and assess the cost of additional staffing to streamline the process, which is subject to the findings of the ad-hoc committee’s recommendations.
The guidelines also state that staff is to recommend and establish a plan on the cost to hire an enforcement officer to respond to short-term vacation rental complaints and issues, also subject to the ad-hoc committee’s recommendations.
Feller said the reason he signed on to the plan is because it provides “great input” for the STVR ad-hoc committee. He said he doesn’t want to “step on the ad-hoc committee’s toes” and noted the committee’s final recommendations on such a program would come back to City Council at some point, thus allowing council to further vet the program.
Councilwoman Esther Sanchez said the ad-hoc committee was looking at implementing code enforcement as well as implementing caps on the number of short-term vacation rentals or limiting them to certain parts of the city.
Sanchez noted that although the city gets transient occupancy taxes from short-term vacation rentals, it loses housing stock from them as well.
“We need to have housing stock,” Sanchez said. “We cannot allow full-flow commercialization of housing, that’s not how our neighborhoods were built.”
Linda Walshaw, vice-chairperson of the Housing Commission and chair of the Oceanside Mobile Home Owners Advisory Committee, told council that short-term vacation rentals are “greatly impacting mobile home parks right now.”
Oceanside has a rent control ordinance that is supposed to protect residents in mobile home parks from unreasonable rental increases while also preserving a “just and reasonable return” on park owners’ investments.
“Unfortunately not only are the park owners acquiring the homes and using them as vacation rentals for profit, but they’re doing it by aggressively refusing to approve buyers for the homes or taking other means to evict people from their homes in order to acquire the homes for discounted rates,” Walshaw said. “We’ve got that going on in several parks right now.”
Walshaw said rent control on a home is only entitled to those who live there as their primary residence.
“Every space that they acquire for this use is one less space that we have for our low-income families and seniors,” she said.
The short-term vacation rental ad-hoc committee held its final hearing on Jan. 29 to finalize its recommendations. The committee’s recommendations will be shared with the Housing Commission and the Economic Development Commission before going to the Planning Commission for a possible recommendation to City Council.
Because of the 120-day time period for making the short-term vacation rental program, City Manager Michelle Skaggs Lawrence said staff will attempt to schedule the program’s approval at the May 22 City Council meeting.
Samantha Nelson covers Oceanside, Camp Pendleton and the decommissioning San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. She earned her journalism degree from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, and has previously reported for The Athens Messenger in Athens, Ohio, and USA Today in McLean, Virginia. Follow her on Twitter: @samm1son