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Phil 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.
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