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MARK ZANIDES, Dana Point

The city’s draft STR program will expose Dana Point to hundreds of new STRs. 

1) It adds about 70 STRs in single-family homes (69% owned by out-of-town investors). 

2) There are scores of unregistered STRs, which are probably also owned by outsiders.

3) There will be no caps on STRs in condos.

4) One STR per unit will be allowed in any other multi-unit building (about 2,000 in the city), including duplexes, again with no caps.

The enormous impact of this on residential neighborhoods has never been studied by the council, the staff or the Planning Commission; not surprising—don’t want to know if the new STRs will do damage, because they are set on pleasing real estate investors.

The city’s justification is that we must “(respect) the private property rights of all property owners (both those who favor and those who oppose short-term rentals).”

This ignores that the zoning regulations in Dana Point, which do not permit businesses to operate in residential areas, already balance the property rights of residents. Make no mistake, Airbnb, Vrbo and STR investors are businesses.

In effect, the council has directed the Planning Commission to alter fundamentally the zoning code in Dana Point, burdening residents (primarily in Lantern District and Capo Beach) with unsupervised mini-hotels in their neighborhoods.  

Some claim that “enhanced regulations” will somehow address objections to a steady stream of tourists next door. They will not. STRs will fundamentally alter the character of our neighborhoods. 

A well-run tattoo parlor is still a tattoo parlor. And a well-run hotel is still a hotel. Moreover, calling the new regulations “enhanced” is laughable in a city where staff don’t even enforce the required liability insurance for existing STRs, let alone audit TOT taxes.

I love my Lantern District community.  I want to preserve it for our neighbors, not transient visitors. Tourists are not neighbors. 

In 2016, over 4,000 residents signed a referendum to overturn the city’s last attempt to authorize the proliferation of STRs. This latest attempt is worse and will likely suffer the same fate. Will our council ever put residents first? Sadly, the answer is no.

For more on this topic, read my entire letter to the Planning Commission on pages 6-10 at danapoint.org/home/showpublisheddocument/34158/637853628417100000.

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