DP logoPhil Littell, Ph.D., Dana Point

I’m an owner of a unit in Niguel Beach Terrace (NBT), a condominium community of 368 units with CC&Rs that clearly prohibit short-term rentals (STRs) yet has had up to 70 to 80 units flagrantly violating the rules despite the city’s well-lauded Municipal Code 5.38. The ordinance is toothless and serves to provide political cover for the City Council to continue to usher intrusive commercial enterprises into residential areas without notice to the neighbors.

At NBT, homeowners regularly report unpermitted STRs to Dana Point Code Enforcement. Little if any enforcement takes place because the businesses of Dana Point adore the dollars STRs generate. If the city can prove an illegal STR rental (note that vacationers have to be onsite and are not required to speak to an enforcement officer), the owner will be fined a maximum of $2,750 for four annual offenses—less than one week’s revenue (currently $3,000 to $5,000). Code Enforcement sometimes has a temporary effect, but the illegal STR activity always seems to recommence. The ordinance sounds aggressive but is worthless and without consequence.

Many suspect that STR owners have worked with the city and internet STR sites to lobby Council. Code Enforcement sent emails using city mail servers to STR owners advising them of the earlier Council meeting date to ensure they were well represented.

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

About The Author Dana Point Times

comments (2)

  • Why we are focused on dividing the city and starting over rather working together as a community strengthen the ordinance that’s been 9 years in the making?
    Given it took 9 years to create an ordinance that isn’t working for some residence of our city, doesn’t it make sense to work together as a city to strengthen it so it so it works for everyone rather than starting over? I’ve heard a number of people complain to overturn the ordinance because they don’t think that HOA’s should be allowed to prohibit vacation rentals while I have also heard people complain because they don’t want vacation rentals at all. The current ordinance seems to be a compromise allowing HOA’s to prohibit vacation rentals while giving the city a mechanism of enforcement. While I have never personally dealt with an issue related to a vacation rental so I have not experience with enforcement. I believe there are some real issues given there are people complaining, despite the fact that many people have indicated that vacation rentals are not their real target. Why we are focused on divisive political maneuvers and starting over rather working together as a community strengthen the ordinance that’s been 9 years in the making?

  • The STR ordinance had to be approved by the CCC before becoming law. That may be the reason it has not been enforced to the maximum extent possible.

    Furthermore, during the July CC meeting, it was stated by the City attorney that even without the ordinance, STRs were illegal. But a City employee stated it was basically unenforceable because a lawsuit would have to be filed in order to prevail against the STR owner. He added that it would have been problematic to prove his case because of the difficulty in getting an out of state STR renter to testify.

    There’s enough uncertainty in my mind about various issues that I don’t have a strong opinion one way the other. I think the City erred in not enacting an ordinance for the non-coastal zone first,

comments (2)

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