OCEANSIDE — After a year of preparation by city staff and consideration of public input, the city now has regulations in place for short-term rentals.
At its June 19 meeting, City Council voted 3-1 with a fifth member recused to add Chapter 24 to the city code, establishing short-term rental permit requirements and inspection fees.
Oceanside, like many other coastal cities, has experienced what the city calls a “dramatic increase” in the number of residential properties being used as short-term rentals, with approximately 935 registered in the city to date. Prior to June 19, city code did not explicitly address short-term rentals.
The city has received complaints from residents and neighborhood groups throughout the city about “adverse impacts” caused by short-term rentals, such as excessive noise, overcrowding, reduction of street parking and trash build-up.
In January, City Council directed staff to put together a comprehensive short-term rental program and Good Neighbor Policy that would ensure short-term rentals comply with the city’s new rules.
The new regulations state that an owner of a short-term rental must have a permit from the city before they can rent out or advertise their space. A short-term rental permit is valid for 12 months from the date it was issued and must be renewed annually.
A property’s owner or an authorized agent must submit an application for a short-term rental, and a property inspection is required when the city’s receives a permit application.
Operational requirements include requiring the owner or an authorized agent identified in the permit application to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to respond to complaints concerning occupants of the short-term rental unit. Short-term rental property owners must display a notice containing a 24/7 phone number to take complaints.
Short-term rental property addresses and contact numbers also will be listed on the city’s short-term rental directory website.
Short-term rental owners are also responsible for making sure occupants don’t create “unreasonable noise or disturbances” or engage in disorderly conduct. Properties must also be kept clean without any visible trash besides on trash collection days.
Regulations limit two people per bedroom plus two people per unit in short-term rental units, and a maximum of 10 daytime guests regardless of bedroom count between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. Short-term rental agreements shall also have a minimum two-night consecutive stay requirement for guests.
Short-term rental properties are exempt from the permit requirement if they are hosted units, meaning they are dwelling units where the owner of the property or their tenant occupies the unit as a primary residence. Also exempt are short-term rentals governed by a homeowner association that contains at least 50 units and are self-contained, meaning they are gated within 24-hour security or on-site management with applicable parking requirements.
The new regulations prohibit new non-hosted short-term rentals in R1, R3, RE, RS, RM and RH residential zoning districts. Additionally, staff is required to monitor the number of corporate short-term rental units and provide a report to the Planning Commission within one year of adoption of the new regulations.
The new regulations also prohibit short-term rentals in mobile home parks and units served by panhandle access (referring to narrow streets serving small pockets of homes) that don’t meet city standards.
Council was presented with two versions of the new ordinance, one that strictly prohibited the panhandle access homes from operating short-term rentals and another that grandfathered in already existing short-term rental units on panhandle access roads.
Council ultimately decided on the version that didn’t grandfather in already existing short-term rental units on panhandle access roads.
Public safety was an issue for Deputy Mayor Jack Feller, who was concerned about first responder access on such roads.
“Liability could fall back on the city,” Feller said.
Kimberly Faust, a resident in Oceanside’s Fire Mountain neighborhood, told council about an instance during which a fire truck was unable to access her home when a tree fell on it because of cars parked in front of a residence operating as a short-term rental unit.
Councilwoman Esther Sanchez also had concerns about public safety, noting that “every second counts” when it comes to first responders being able to access homes if there is something wrong with a resident.
“It is a frightening thing if something were to happen and someone isn’t able to get assistance,” Sanchez said.
Mayor Peter Weiss was the only member to oppose the ordinance, explaining that he would prefer to start with broader regulations rather than more restrictive ones immediately.
Councilman Chris Rodriguez recused himself from the vote due to a conflict of interest. Rodriguez is the president and chief executive officer of Maximum Real Estate Services in Oceanside.
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