Laguna’s Short-term Rental Rules in Jeopardy

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Rules banning short-term lodgers from Laguna Beach neighborhoods conflicts with land use policies that promote public access to the coast and should be rescinded, according to staff of the state Coastal Commission.

The staff recommendation to reject regulations that Laguna Beach enacted in October 2016 is being heard Thursday, Dec. 14, by the Coastal Commission, which is meeting in Dana Point.

City officials must seek commission approval of any changes to its land use rules, which now restrict new short-term rentals to the town’s commercial areas.

While recommending against Laguna’s residential prohibition, Deputy Director Karl Schwing does recommend approval of 14 operating conditions the city adopted to quell complaints. Nuisances can be regulated to assure neighborhood compatibility “without resorting to a drastic, all-out prohibition on STLs within residential zones,” the report says.

“We think they came to the right decision,” said local resident Jennifer Zeiter, representing 300 property owners in a 2016 lawsuit that alleges the city’s short-term rental ordinance violates the Coastal Act, which governs coastal development standards.

In a Dec. 8 letter to the commission, Zeiter urged commission members to further revise Laguna’s regulations on short term-rentals, lifting restrictions on density, parking and sunset provisions on permits. She cited “extreme anti-STL bias by the City Council” in denying four permit applications over the past year.

Resident Michael Beanan urged commission members to reverse direction and argued that staff recommendations conflict with another state policy to encourage more affordable housing. Should short-term rentals be allowed in neighborhoods, he predicted a rush by landlords to capitalize on tourists that will exacerbate the city’s inventory of affordable long-term rentals.

Bans on short-term rentals in neighborhoods by the cities of Encinitas and Pismo Beach  have all been denied, the commission’s staff report pointed out. Such bans are inconsistent with Coastal Act policies protecting public access and promoting visitor-serving accommodations along the coast, the report says.

Currently, 36 property owners in Laguna legally rent 81 units for less than 30 days at a time, and two third of those permits are located in neighborhoods, the report says. Online postings suggest another 200 more. Hotel rates averaged $292 to $350 on weekend nights last year.

The city’s restrictions on short-term rentals to commercial areas reduces their availability because it’s based on “potential units” that have yet to be developed, the report says.

 

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2 COMMENTS

  1. The “short-term rental rules in jeopardy” are more than that: they are UNLAWFUL! Adding salt to the wounds the city grandfathered those who had already placed their homes on rental sites but denied others the option to do so. Did you know that our lovely city also hired someone at nearly $100,000 a year to canvas the internet searching for those who short-term rented their homes? Yes, your tax dollars were spent to incriminate you.
    Were these rules and changes brought to us by the same group whom punctured the Laguna Beach Art Walk by ticketing gallery owners for their free libations???
    Perhaps the same city council members and city staff( our tax dollars again…) who also banned medical marijuana within city limits?
    Sheeesh…the last liberal enclave on the coast has been under the vices of “NO!” to choice and freedom.
    I hope the lawsuit succeeds. I (and others)await the apologies for impugning our liberties.
    Seriously city of Laguna…there are so many other items that should demand time and our tax dollars: helping the homeless and hungry, making our streets SAFE for pedestrians and bicyclists, a foot/bike path through the canyon to the wilderness parks and enforcing the city’s Dark Sky Policies.

  2. Short term rentals are a huge value-add to the city and I’m happy to see these rules challenged.
    Short-term vacation rental guests help Laguna Beach as a whole in terms of economic benefit as guests spend their money on LOCAL retail and restaurant business.
    Ask any local business owner.
    Lots of visitors with families prefer staying in a short term rental as opposed to a hotel for a variety of reasons and we should encourage these visitors to come rather than discourage them.
    I look forward to Laguna Beach getting the benefits of short term rentals.

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