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Deanna Slocum, Capistrano Beach
As the short-term rental (STR) discussion wages on, I believe it’s important to share a development with the public.
For once, I agreed on one point with those that pitched the referendum. While I didn’t agree with their tactics, which often resorted to berating, shoving and screaming to get those signatures, I could not argue with the message—let the people decide, or, at least, what I heard was the message. I don’t believe my hearing was that far off the mark, however.
On Sept 30, a pro-referendum supporter wrote to the Dana Point Times, to plead for a public vote saying “a vote would be warranted because the ordinance affects all Dana Point residents and will change the character of our city forever.”
For weeks leading up to the point when the referendum was turned into the OC Registrar, in front of the grocery stores, I witnessed both citizens and signature gatherers tell shoppers that signing the referendum would not be a statement for or against STRs but would simply cause the city to put the matter to a public vote—to let the people decide.
Imagine my surprise when I watched those same citizens request on Nov. 1 and Nov. 15 that our City Council not put the matter to a vote, but rather the Council should repeal the ordinances outright. They said “the people have spoken by signing the referendum so the city should save its money and not put the matter forward in an election.”
However, I would say that with only 10 percent of the city’s population having signed the referendum and with potentially a significant percentage of those having signed in reliance on the fact that there would be a public vote, the people have not spoken. Moreover, to tell people who were asked to sign the referendum that they were signing a document that would give them a say and then ask the Council to do the opposite seems deceptive and unfair. Alas, this is what I think happened.
If you signed that referendum expecting to have your say in an election, you were duped. The ordinances, which protected our neighborhoods by regulating STRs have now been repealed without any public vote. It is a disappointing development for our political process as well as for those of us who do not want a group of the few restricting the property rights of the many.
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