Barbara Wilson, Dana Point

The referendum was submitted to the Dana Point City Clerk with 3,956 signatures of Dana Point registered voters, who were against the short-term rental (STR) ordinance passed by Councilmen Schoeffel, Olvera and Mayor Tomlinson. The City Clerk has submitted the referendum to the Orange County Registrar of Voters to validate the signatures. It will take approximately 2,100 qualified signatures to pass the referendum.

The strong support for the referendum should send the City Council a clear message that an ordinance needs to consider the interests of all the residents of Dana Point and not just a few STR operators. The provisions of the city’s ordinance intended to protect residents are virtually unenforceable, especially with the California Coastal Commission prohibiting limits on number of STRs, changes to minimum night stays and reduction in number of vehicles allowed at STRs.

Recent documentation suggests that misleading information was presented at the City Council meeting regarding the efficacy of the city’s STR program. Enforcement is highly questionable since illegal rentals are still allowed to operate in the city. It is also disconcerting that hundreds of violations are being reported to the police or the district without finding out if they are attributable to short-term renters. And many people who signed the referendum do not call the police but are disturbed by STRs.

The Council saw fit to change the scheduled date to vote on the ordinance. Letters were sent to notify the STR owners of the change, but why was no written notice sent to the citizens of the city? This issue is one of the most critical ever to be considered by the City Council. They should have fully informed residents and encouraged their participation before making such an important decision.

With the passage of the referendum by such a significant margin, hopefully the City Council will choose not to have a special election and bring the citizens of Dana Point together to forge a new STR ordinance that protects our neighborhoods.

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