Del Mar council divided over five-year mandate for existing short-term rentals to comply with new ordinance – Del Mar Times

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A proposal to put Del Mar’s current short-term rental properties on a five-year probationary period to comply with a new citywide STR ordinance, which is still being drafted, received a lot of backlash and was ultimately rejected by the City Council in a split vote on Jan. 22.

For years, council members have been trying to craft a short-term rental ordinance for Del Mar, the only city in coastal North County that doesn’t have one. For the last several years, the city has been following a “forbearance” policy that allows short-term rentals only if they can prove they were in operation before April 2016.

An ordinance is tentatively scheduled to be approved by June.

Some of the parameters under consideration include capping STRs at 5% of the total housing units in the city, including limits that are specific to certain sections of the city and multi-unit residences, as well as requiring a minimum three-night stay.

The idea to give owners of short-term rentals five years to come into compliance with a local ordinance, if it’s eventually approved, highlighted one of the main sticking points throughout the process: Many of those owners say they have been renting out their units for a long time in ways that are consistent with the city’s history and tradition, and wouldn’t support a local law that could eliminate them.

“You’re going to base all this and wipe away all the grandfathering rights, generations of history,” Del Mar resident Laura DeMarco said during public comment, “because you want to make sure that Bill Gates and every other billionaire who buys on the oceanfront and spends $40 million doesn’t have any tacky touristas tropping down with their welcome wagons of children and beach crap to go to the beach.”

Several other speakers during public comment, some of them owners of short-term rentals, expressed similar feelings to the council.

Short-term rentals in Del Mar have long been used for summer vacations, horseracing seasons at the Del Mar Fairgrounds and student housing. But council members have also pointed out that sites like Airbnb have literally changed the landscape,

In a 3-2 vote, the council agreed that current short-term rentals should be accommodated in the city ordinance, without a five-year deadline that could potentially put them out of business if they have any “nonconformities” included in the draft terms of the ordinance – such as owning more than one STR or operating an STR that isn’t a primary residence.

Instead, those existing short-term rentals would have their legal standing revoked due to a change in ownership or any “misconduct” reported to the city.

Del Mar City Councilmembers Dwight Worden and Dave Druker were the no votes.

“If you’re operating a short-term rental and you don’t want to come into compliance, I’m sorry but I think we should shut you down,” Worden said.

Councilmember Dan Quirk said he preferred to avoid a longer, bureaucratic process that would require the city to reevaluate existing STRs in five years.

“This isn’t rocket science that we’re trying to do, this is pretty basic, standard stuff and there is a well-established playbook throughout the county and the state,” Quirk said.

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