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DP logoMark Zanides, Dana Point

The City Council’s adoption of the amendment, which grants the Coastal Commission the right to approve any action which “modifies, limits or prohibits” short-term rentals (STRs) in the coastal zone means that Dana Point will never be able to limit or prohibit short-term rentals, no matter how much damage or destruction to our neighborhoods they do. This is made clear in a Coastal Commission letter dated August 26, 2016, threatening action against a homeowner’s association in Oxnard which sought to ban short-term rentals. The Coastal Commission has stated:

“In all instances, short-term vacation rentals increase the range of options available to coastal visitors. Under the Coastal Act, these types of rentals constitute a high-priority visitor-serving use that provide important overnight accommodations for members of the public in coastal communities and support increased coastal access opportunities.”

The Commission claims that it “understands and appreciates that short-term vacation rentals may raise neighborhood character and operational issues, such as site management, number of occupants, special events, parking, litter and noise limits.

“Therefore, the Coastal Commission has endorsed certain regulations to require on-site management, enforcement protocols, occupancy limits, required parking and other use provisions.” Dana Point is now stuck with its current Dana Point ordinance, which does not limit the number of short-term rental licenses which can be granted. Any later effort by Dana Point to “limit,” much less prohibit, short-term rentals would be rejected by the Coastal Commission.

This amendment is not, as the city staff claimed, “minor.” Nor is it “the best deal we can get” from the Coastal Commission, as Councilman Schoeffel claimed. In fact, there appears to have been no negotiation with the Coastal Commission, but simply capitulation. This amendment is a Trojan horse which will forever give away our right to self-government on this important issue. It is a disaster. All Dana Point residents who care about the future of their city should sign the referendum to repeal 5.38 currently being circulated.

To submit a letter to the editor, email editorial@danapointtimes.com.

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About The Author Dana Point Times

comments (9)

  • Mark,

    I’ve had a ton of experience interacting with the coastal commission over the years. They’ve probably taken a few years off my life. You couldn’t be more wrong in your interpretation of the situation. This referendum is down right scary in that it will put us at odds with the Coastal Commission, in an area where they wield a great deal of power. We spent millions and couldn’t get a gate installed at Strands. What do you think a legal fight with them would cost us here? Fact of the matter, if you read through the entire letter the Coastal Commission sent out to the HOA in Oxnard on August 26, 2016, you will find that they specially use Dana Point and ordinance 5.38 as an example of how cities and HOAs can prohibit and regulate Short Term Rentals. Without this ordinance all of our HOAs would be exposed to receiving similar letters with fines of up to $10,000 per day! There is a great deal of information available that shows how our city negotiated with the Coastal Commission. In my opinion, they were masterful. Our ordinance allows to regulate and prohibit Short Term Rentals in all parts of the city, either via our City Council and/or through your HOA. Because the vast majority of our Coastal Zone communities are governed by HOAs, this was a huge coupe for us. If your referendum is successful there is a very high probability the Coastal Commission would not allow us to prohibit them in HOAs again. I think its extraordinarily important that people understand what they are signing with regards to this referendum. A repeal of our ordinance could result in 1/3 of our community being unable to prohibit or regulate Short Term Rentals. Whereas with the ordinance that we have had in place for the last 3-years almost all of our communities can regulate or prohibit.

    • Mark: The letter to the Oxnard HOA was initiated after they tried to modify their CC&R’s to prohibit STRs. Are you sure the CCC would retroactively threaten HOAs if they just left their rules in place that prohibit STRs? I’m not.

      A big problem with the referendum, if it qualifies and passes, is that apparently the lack of an ordinance dealing with STRs makes enforcement impractical. See the July 19th Council meeting for details.

  • Last comment was addressed to Alex, not Mark.

  • Jason Colaco, Dana Point Reply

    From what I understand reading our Agenda Reports and watching video from City Council meetings, I think this is indeed a very real risk. If the referendum was successful we could lose our ability to prohibit or limit short term rentals in any HOA within the Coastal Zone.. If you review page 25 of the City’s Agenda Report from July 19th the city staff state:

    “The Coastal Commission has historically been a strong advocate of short-term rentals as it believes these housing arrangements provide more affordable opportunities for the public to visit the coast. Coastal Commission Staff did not want to allow the “private” prohibition of short term rentals by homeowner association CC&Rs and were clear during LCP discussions that they believe any prohibition or limitation of short-term rentals, including geographical buffers to limit the concentration of short-term rental properties, violates the coastal act.”

    Ultimately after a 12-month negotiation between our city and the Coastal Commission they decided to allow HOAs to prohibit STRs in Dana Point, but that offer expires on October 4th, at which point we go back to the drawing board with them. If the referendum is successful, we would thus be back to the drawing board with this entire ordinance. At the City Council meeting on September 5th, our City Manager, Doug Chotkvys, stated that there was no way to guarantee this concession would still be in place should we miss their October 4th deadline. His testimony is available on the city’s website.

    We are currently in a position where HOAs can prohibit or limit STRs in the Coastal Zone, and our City Council can place restrictions or prohibition outside of it. If the referendum is successful there is no way to know how the Coastal Commission would react and our HOAs could be exposed to $10,000 per day fines, like at Mandalay Shores in Oxnard.

  • Alex C’s letter is full of misstatements.
    1. He says: A repeal of our ordinance could result in 1/3 of our community being unable to prohibit or regulate Short Term Rentals. Whereas with the ordinance that we have had in place for the last 3-years almost all of our communities can regulate or prohibit.

    He has it exactly backwards. The Amendment to the ordinance demanded by the Coastal Commission requires that we submit for approval any modification, limitation or prohibition of STRs in the coastal zone. So it is passage of the ordinance, not its repeal, which will result in our being unable to prohibit or limit short term rentals.

    2. He claims: “Without this ordinance all of our HOAs would be exposed to receiving similar letters with fines of up to $10,000 per day!

    This is false. Without this ordinance and the required zoning change, the Coastal Commission will have no jurisdiction whatsoever in the coastal range, and thus will not be able to levy fines. As Long Time resident correctly points out, the Oxnard situation is completely different: there the HOA tried to bar STRs. Far from supporting Alex C’s position, this demonstrates that the Coastal Commission will fiercely protect what it deems “coastal access”, and it specifically states that STRs provide coastal access. So to accept this ordinance with its giveaway of our power to regulate, there will be no limitations possible.

  • Thanks to Mark Zanides for setting the record straight. The unceasing bloviation from ordinance advocates is filled with half truths and ignorant statements about what the Coastal Commission will do. The same individuals predicted that the Commission would NOT ratify Measure H in retribution for opposition to the ordinance if it failed to pass. We saw how that worked out. Measure H is law.

    It is time to step back and reset the city’s position in a way that satisfies more constituents. One more thing to remember – the city fought the Coastal Commission on behalf of a private developer for 5 years, spending over $1 million thru 4 trials and lost. It will pay $300,000 in mitigation to the Coastal Commissions for its unlawful actions in that case. It is not unreasonable to suspect that the accommodations to the Coastal Commission made for STR regulation in the ordinance are more fruit from that poisonous situation.

  • Mark,

    It’s interesting, my statements are taken directly from City Council meetings, City Council documents and Coastal Commission publications, whereas your statements are theoretical based on no solid facts or evidence. Your points are in direct conflict of feedback provided by our city attorney, city manager and city staff. You are insinuating that these folks are lying or are simply unknowledgeable. That after years of negotiations between the Coastal Commission and our city, they don’t understand the terms they negotiated. What’s most laughable is that you are asking people to sign away their property rights, based on a hunch.

    You do understand that the Coastal Commission has complete jurisdiction in the Coastal Zone per the California Coastal Act of 1976? I’m not sure what you are referencing when you mention the “Coastal Range.” I’ve never come across that term when discussion Coastal Commission per view.

    Bottomline, without this ordinance our HOAs would find themselves in a situation where their CC&Rs could be in direct conflict with the California Coastal Act. This could create massive financial risk for our HOAs.

  • Mark,

    It’s interesting, my statements are taken directly from City Council meetings, City Council documents and Coastal Commission publications, whereas your statements are theoretical based on no solid facts or evidence. Your points are in direct conflict of feedback provided by our city attorney, city manager and city staff. You are insinuating that these folks are lying or are simply unknowledgeable. That after years of negotiations between the Coastal Commission and our city, they don’t understand the terms they negotiated directly. What’s most laughable is that you are asking people to sign away their property rights, based on a hunch.

    You do understand that the Coastal Commission has complete jurisdiction in the Coastal Zone per the California Coastal Act of 1976? I’m not sure what you are referencing when you mention the “Coastal Range.” I’ve never come across that term when discussion Coastal Commission per view.

    Bottomline, without this ordinance our HOAs would find themselves in a situation where their CC&Rs could be in direct conflict with the California Coastal Act. This could create massive financial risk for our HOAs.

  • Today I was approached by a man sitting in front of the Trader Joes who asked me to please sign his petition. He went on to tell me about hotels and alcoholics moving into Dana Point neighborhoods. I told him I wanted to learn more before I could sign, it seemed like he was in a rush to get signatures. He went on to tell me that he had two children at home and that he was getting paid to “work” on this important cause. I suspect in a few weeks, we’ll see him promoting another initiative before the election. Its very sad that this is what our country is coming to.

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