Laguna Beach OKs short-term lodging limits after Coastal Commission deal

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The California Coastal Commission has allowed Laguna Beach to restrict new short-term rentals in residential zones. Photo by Daniel Langhorne

Laguna Beach inched toward banning new short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods and capping them at 300 units citywide at the city council meeting on Tuesday.

The Laguna Beach City Council unanimously voted to accept the modifications approved by the California Coastal Commission in October. The state agency appeared to back away from its long-held stance that short-term rentals are critical for coastal access and cities shouldn’t curtail them at all.

A compromise between Laguna Beach and the Coastal Commission allows for issuing new permits for short-term rentals in the commercial and mixed-use zoned districts. The 300-unit cap includes 117 short-term rentals that are already permitted including, 79 in residential zones and 38 in commercial zones.

The deal also carves out an additional 165 home-share units, owner-occupied residences that rent out one or more bedrooms, at a single-family, duplex, or triplex property in the commercial and mixed-use districts. The City Council approved waiving the $347 permit fee to help homeowners take advantage of this program.

Some residents have expressed concern that the new measure would allow landlords to convert apartments into higher-yield rentals on Airbnb and VRBO, reducing the housing stock for year-round residents. The City Council sought to address these concerns by limiting buildings with five residential units or fewer to only covert one unit into a short-term rental. Buildings with more than five dwelling units could covert up to 20% of them into short-term rentals.

The City’s amendment has to return for a second procedural vote, likely in December, before heading back to the Coastal Commission for final approval.

Councilmember Toni Iseman asked if the city can revoke permits if short-term rental operators chronically violating city law.

City staff can yank the permit if the operator violates the terms, Community Development Director Marc Wiener said. If the revoked permit is for a residential property, the short-term rental slot would still be limited to a commercial district, he added.

Laguna Beach resident Karen Dennis, who lives next-door to a short-term rental, urged the City Council to move forward with the new rules, which are the result of countless public meetings that started as early as 2016.

“It is a compromise and it’s taken years and numerous meetings to accomplish this,” Dennis said. “My thing is lets move forward. Without an effective ordinance, illegal short-term rentals continue to operate and expand in residential neighborhoods, like next to me.”

The revised ordinance is the product of a lot of thought and hard work on the part of city staff, the coastal commission staff, and the community, said Charlotte Masarik, a member of Village Laguna’s Board of Directors.

“We appreciate the coastal staff’s recognition of our issues … which are the effects of the proliferation of short-term lodging on the availability and affordability of the city’s rental housing stock, on the unique character of our community, and on the quiet enjoyment of our homes envisioned by our general plan,” Masarik said.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Airbnb and Vrbo are not doing enough to control the party problem. They should do better guest screening and require some monitoring. I require at least 60% of the price as a deposit, make my no-party house rules clear at the beginning, and use something called Party Squasher to monitor occupancy at my properties.

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