By Kristina Pritchett
After more than four hours of public comment, discussion and questions, the City Council voted three to two in favor of the short-term rental ordinance.
Councilmen Carlos Olvera and Scott Schoeffel both voted in favor of the ordinance, with councilmen Richard Viczorek and Joe Muller against it. Mayor John Tomlinson was the tie-breaking vote, pausing before he said he was in favor of it.
The meeting was moved to the Dana Point Community Center where several hundred people filled in every available space for a chance to speak on the issue.
The ordinance included a zone text amendment to allow short-term rentals in all the zoning districts where residential uses are allowed as part of a Local Coastal Program Amendment (LCPA) and a Specific Plan Amendment.
The ordinance has been in the works for years. In 2013, the city adopted an ordinance that allowed short-term rentals in the city and would require a $150 permit fee for those who wished to have a short-term rental in their home. In January 2014, the Council conducted a second reading and authorized staff to submit the LCPA to the California Coastal Commission for its approval and certification. It was deemed complete by the Commission in March 2015, and in April 2016, it conducted a hearing and approved the city’s LCPA with suggested modifications.
The modifications from the Coastal Commission include if the city makes future amendments to the ordinance that would limit or prohibit short-term rentals in the coastal zone, that it must be re-submitted to the Commission as an LCPA.
Muller told the Council he was not in favor of the ordinance because he felt it was a way for a state agency to take control.
“This is about who has control of that ordinance,” Muller said.
Tomlinson said he was concerned after the last meeting and asked a lot of questions between then and now, especially about if the Commission would have jurisdiction over areas outside of the Coastal zone. But, after hearing people speak on Tuesday night, he voted in favor of the ordinance.
“I think from what we’ve heard tonight is that these properties have been well managed, with a few exceptions, but there’s plenty of recourse there.” Tomlinson said.
During public portion, 75 people put in their names to speak about the issue. Many residents who spoke told the public and Council their experiences with the rentals.
William Mathies told Council that if they voted on the matter they would be taking away power from future Councils.
Other residents opposing the rentals told the Council they should let the next Council decide, but city staff told Council members if a decision was not sent to the Coastal Commission by Oct. 14, the city would have to start the process from the very beginning.
Many residents who have a short-term rental said they’ve had no complaints from the renters or their neighbors.
Ted Harris, Code Enforcement Officer for the city, said there was 186 permits issued, but 40-50 of those rentals are used as often as others. He also said there could be 40 rentals without an ordinance, but the city doesn’t have a definite count.
The LCPA will be sent to the California Coastal Commission and if the executive director of the Commission certifies it, it will become final.