ROGER J. MALCOLM, Capistrano Beach
I attended the Dana Point City Council meeting on Oct. 1, 2019 and spoke against short-term vacation rentals (STRs). I have firsthand experience living next to an illegal STR and feel strongly that no one should be forced to deal with the nuisances of an ever-revolving door of tourists as next-door “neighbors.”
Councilmember Debra Lewis aptly stated that the city, through its zoning code, promised homeowners they would live in exclusively residential areas and their communities would not be opened up for commercial purposes. We all purchased our homes based on that promise. Now, three Councilmen, all of them supported by significant real estate PAC money in their elections, appear ready to break that promise. Apparently, the council majority neither believes in nor supports existing residents’ property rights or “equal protection under the law.” Instead, they will fight to support the new “rights” of investors to open mini-hotels in our neighborhoods.
Councilmember Lewis proposed that any STR ordinance, including later revisions, must be voted on by Dana Point residents. The motion could not even get a second and failed. Even Mr. Jamey Federico refused to second the motion, although during the election, he had agreed that an STR ordinance should go to the ballot box.
There was discussion of an online survey conducted regarding STRs, based on voluntary respondents. The sample size was too small to be statistically meaningful, did not mirror the demographics of Dana Point, and there were no safeguards to ensure that respondents were even city residents. A proposal was made to conduct a new survey and acquire meaningful data. Mayor Joe Muller and Councilman Richard Viczorek voted against a new survey despite knowing that in 2016, 4,000 residents signed a referendum to strike down the last STR ordinance.
The council majority seems to want to stack the deck in favor of STR investors. Councilmember Lewis was the sole defender of residents’ interests. Her pleas to preserve residential zoning for ALL residents, treating HOA and non-HOA residents equally, fell on deaf ears.
The public has a right to know about the maneuvers and motivations of a city council that wants to rezone our community to serve the greed of real estate investors. I’m disgusted that the sanctity of our homes and neighborhoods is neither respected nor defended by those elected to serve us.