Oceanside tackles short-term rentals, regulations

Oceanside tackles short-term rentals, regulations
Portions of the city function as vacation areas, such as the Residential Tourist Zone, which is permitted for summer rentals and tourist cottages. Courtesy photo

OCEANSIDE — The city continued its discussion over how to regulate short-term rentals during the second of three community meetings on Nov. 27 at Oceanside City Hall.

Earlier this year, the city’s Planning Commission appointed an ad hoc committee to provide recommendations on possible STR regulations during these meetings, an issue that has been popping up in coastal towns and other cities popular with tourists.

The recent meeting recapped discussions from Aug. 21 and included revisions on potential regulations as well as additional information, such as how other cities like Santa Cruz and Carlsbad are regulating STRs.

Oceanside is no stranger to STRs. Portions of the city function as vacation areas, such as the Residential Tourist Zone, which is permitted for summer rentals and tourist cottages.

Shannon Vitale, a planner with the city of Oceanside, reviews potential regulations for short-term rentals (STRs) that were discussed at a previous meeting with the Planning Commission. Dozens of residents showed up to the meeting to listen and voice their growing concerns over STRs in the city. Photo by Samantha Taylor

The only regulations Oceanside currently has in place for STRs include registering with the city to pay a 10 percent Transient Occupancy Tax and a 1.5 percent Oceanside Tourism Marketing District assessment, and requiring STRs with five or more units on one property to obtain a city business license.

According to a staff report from the city’s Development Services Department Planning Division, there are currently 812 registered STR operators in the city that pay Transient Occupancy Tax and Oceanside Tourism Marketing District assessment. About 75 percent of those are in the Coastal Zone.

The actual number of STRs in the city is higher, according to Shannon Vitale, a planner with the city, who estimated that number to be somewhere around 1,200. The city-registered STRs generated about $2.74 million during the last fiscal year, Vitale said.

Concerns voiced by the public regarding STRs include diminished parking, property value and general peace in neighborhoods. At the Nov. 27 meeting, many residents described feeling overwhelmed or pushed out by the amount of STRs popping up in their neighborhoods.

According to the staff report, the city has received few complaints regarding STRs considering the number that are currently operating in the city. Several residents took issue with that, explaining that many don’t complain because they don’t know who to contact or have been previously frustrated by the city’s response.

According to Vitale, STRs make up approximately 1.1 percent of the total housing stock in Oceanside. Approximately 4.86 percent of the housing stock in the Townsite neighborhood is STRs, followed by 2.64 percent in South Oceanside and 1.25 percent in Fire Mountain.

In 2016, the city drafted a Good Neighbor Policy for STRs, but no formal regulations have been put in place. The regulative policies currently being considered for STRs would require following such a policy.

In her presentation to the Planning Commission, Vitale provided a list of “key components” of what a Good Neighbor Policy could include:

  • Parking for all vehicles on-site to the greatest extent possible
  • Number of occupants limited to two adults per bedroom plus two people per unit, excluding children
  • Defining what a bedroom is
  • A three-strike policy
  • Prohibiting commercial activities and special events

General STR regulations as recommended by the ad hoc committee included the two people per bedroom plus two per unit maximum occupancy, a three- to five-night minimum length stay, prohibiting special events as defined by the Parks and Recreation Division, not restricting STRs to a primary residence and not requiring an STR to be owner-occupied. The committee also recommended potential STR business license and permit fees.

Possible exemptions to certain STR regulations would include Homeowner Associations if the properties are self-contained, have a 24-hour on-site manager and have obtained a business license, with each STR operating under one license. Owner-occupied STRs could also be exempt.

Vitale said only about 7 percent of all registered STRs are owner-occupied. The complaints the city has received about STRs are generally not about owner-occupied STRs.

Planning Commissioner Tom Rosales agreed there should be certain exemptions for owner-occupied STRs, but Commissioner Colleen Balch thought differently.

“I think if you treat them all the same, then it’s simpler for staff,” Balch said.

Balch disagreed with excluding children from the occupancy count, noting in cases of emergency when evacuation is necessary.

“Children have to evacuate just like an adult. There is no difference between whether they’re 2 months old or 20 years old or 40 years old,” she said. “You have to start looking at these as small hotels … The city has a ton of liability right now if we have a major incident in one of these homes.”

Commissioners also discussed limiting the amount of STRs per neighborhood.

“We have certain areas like my neighborhood (South Oceanside) that are being inundated,” Balch said. “Our school’s population is dropping because of it, so that’s something else the city needs to be cognizant of.”

Balch said her neighborhood is being “purchased by investors” for STRs. Commissioner Curtis Busk said that point is the “key to this whole discussion.”

“How do you break the cycle of investor-owned, non-hosted short-term rentals, because that to me is what’s happening to our housing stock,” Busk said.

“That’s what zoning is for,” Balch responded.

Rosales said he’s leaning toward capping the amount of STRs per neighborhood, though he isn’t sure what that would look like yet.

In terms of prohibiting STRs in certain areas of the city, Balch said mobile home housing should be off limits.

The final ad hoc committee meeting on STR regulations will be held on Jan. 29, 2019. During that meeting, the committee and staff will present their final recommendations for STRs to the Planning Commission. From there, the commission will offer their recommendations to City Council.

3 Comments
  1. Sean Padilla 2 weeks ago

    I’m really glad you had posted this. My wife and I, along with many others had been asking the city whom we may speak to regarding STR’s taking over multifamily homes. The STR’s had increased the amount if drunks on our street, vagrants, prostitutes, breaking and entering, stolen packages, and cars being broken into. These STR’s are a problem and must be regulated.

    • Omar 1 week ago

      I’m with you on this topic, I live just west of coast hwy, I thought with all these town homes popping up it would attract more families and crime would
      be reduced but it’s totally the opposite. Then there’s the homelessness problem City needs to address.

  2. Pamela 7 days ago

    I have personally been an owner and a Rental Agent at North Coast Village in North Oceanside over the pat 18 yrs, we are a completely self contained complex with 24 hr security, off street parking, regulations etc. We have never had any problem until the investors in these neighborhoods starting buying property to do STR’s which has in turn jeopardized our vacation rental business and investments at North Coast Village when we have ZERO problems with neighbors or the city for more than 20 yrs. We have been attending every ad hoc meeting to date to discuss being excluded from the new regulations that will be put in place.
    We owners and agents truly sympathize with owners that are suffering because of the investors using the property for STR’s and not being monitored or regulated.I would personally be furious and hope that the city does regulate this for neighborhoods such at this.
    We are all praying that it does not affect NCV and we are excluded as we are the least of anyone’s problems and bringing in a lot of TOT revenue as well as spending $$’s for the city of Oceanside. Punish the offenders not the people who have invested their life savings in “STR” rental property such as NCV.

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