Toni Nelson, Dana Point
There they go again. This time, instead of creating a competing ballot measure to block Measure H, Dana Point City Council disenfranchised voters entirely, approving Ordinance 5.38 to allow vacation rentals as short as two days anywhere in Dana Point. Worse, they ceded authority to the California Coastal Commission for approval of any future amendments affecting proliferation.
In a last minute move, after residents voiced concerns at the August 16 meeting, Council moved the meeting to Sept. 6 (the day after Labor Day) instead of Sept. 20, as previously posted. Opponents learned, too late, that the city sent email notices to all STR permit holders on August 17 to advise them of the meeting change and suggest they write letters and attend the meeting. No such personal notice was sent to known opponents.
Ignoring impassioned pleas from citizens wanting to preserve the quiet enjoyment of their homes, Council bowed to four hours of rosy portrayals of short-term vacation rentals (STRs) by owners, their customers, agents and even their kids. Councilmen Schoeffel and Olvera, who leave Council in November, and Mayor Tomlinson of severely impacted Capistrano Beach, voted to favor special interests (including non-resident investors) representing less than 1 percent of property owners.
Unless you have an HOA or CC&Rs prohibiting STRs, your formerly residential neighborhood is now open to revolving vacation rentals as short as two days. There are no restrictions on the number of businesses on a given street, no buffers between them, and no protections for long term renters. While proponents cited an unbelievable “five nuisance reports in five years”, one resident from Beach Road told of 600 documented calls to security in one year, for 40 rentals. Police admitted that data on nuisance calls is not tracked separately for STR properties.
Time will tell whether investors will crowd to Dana Point, now the only local coastal town that has allowed unrestricted STRs. One sure thing is that the Coastal Commission is thrilled with Dana Point’s “model ordinance.” They should be. Council put them in charge.
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