Toni Nelson, Capistrano Beach
The citizen referendum currently underway seeks to repeal the short-term vacation rental (STR) ordinance and bring this major change in residential zoning to a vote of the people. Public hearings nine years ago do not constitute adequate support to allow as little as two-day rentals, without restrictions or buffers, throughout the two-thirds of Dana Point not protected by CC&Rs. There have been no surveys of impacted neighbors and no comprehensive studies of the impacts of resident versus outside investor-owned STRs; the effects on long-term rental inventory; the impact on neighboring property values; nor the experiences of neighboring cities (most of whom have banned or restricted STRs). Most importantly, we need a full understanding of how and why illegal STRs are still operating and the extent to which the Coastal Commission will be allowed to regulate zoning in residential areas. Council can draft a stronger ordinance for short-term rentals that earns broad public support, or take the existing ordinance to the ballot box. Please sign the referendum and press “pause” before Dana Point as we know it is changed forever by three councilmen, two of whom leave office in December.
In response to Deanna Slocum’s Sept. 23 letter, here are the facts regarding the city’s notice to short-term rental permit holders. Noting that STR proponents seemed unusually organized, I emailed Code Enforcement Officer Ted Harris on Aug. 31 and Sept. 2 asking if he had sent them a special notice. Receiving no response, I filed a Public Records Request with the City Clerk on Sept. 2. On Sept. 9, I finally learned the letter was sent by Mr. Harris to all STR permit holders on Aug. 17 at 9:16 a.m. suggesting recipients “may wish to speak at the meeting or write a letter to City Council.” Apparently, Mr. Harris had been “inundated with calls” about the meeting date change between the close of the Aug. 16 Council meeting at 8:57 p.m. and 9:16 a.m. the next morning. No such personal notice was sent to known opponents to the ordinance. Copies of the entire email chain have been provided to the Dana Point Times.
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