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By Breeana Greenberg

The California Coastal Commission is set to decide whether there are “substantial issues” with a recently approved short-term rental program governing vacation rentals in Dana Point’s coastal zone following an appeal by two residents and a representative for the hotel workers union.

Bridget McConaughy, of Unite Here Local 11, and Dana Point residents Mark Zanides and Kim Tarantino appealed the STR program late last month on the basis that the City Council approved it through an incorrect avenue. They also claimed that the program will decrease affordable housing stock in the city.

The appellants argued that the program should have been passed through a zone text amendment and Local Coastal Plan amendment, rather than a Coastal Development Permit. Additionally, the appellants stated that the Coastal Development Permit (CDP) allows the city to modify STR regulations without California Coastal Commission approval.

As of this posting, city management had not responded to a request for comment on the appeal.

Dana Point City Attorney Patrick Muñoz has previously explained that the CDP gives the city flexibility to make minor changes “relatively easily,” though any changes could still be subject to an appeal. He also noted that changes to a Local Coastal Plan would take 18 months to two years for the California Coastal Commission to address through a hearing.

Because the council-approved vacation rental program only regulates STRs in the coastal zone, there will be no caps on the number of STRs outside of that area until the council passes an additional program for the rest of the city, Muñoz explained during a July 12 special meeting.

In the meantime, any permits issued outside of the coastal zone would be subject to the city’s business regulations on STRs.

“The council will be free at some point, if they wanted to give out caps of some sort or bans, whatever you want to do, for short-term rentals outside the coastal zone,” Muñoz had previously stated.

A council majority voted on July 19 to reject the program proposed to regulate short-term rentals outside of the coastal zone.

The California Coastal Commission has until Sept. 14—49 days from the date the appeal was filed—to hold a public hearing to determine whether the appeal is a “substantial issue.”

If the Coastal Commission does not determine there’s a “substantial issue,” the CDP will be implemented. Should a “substantial issue” be determined, the CCC will schedule a public hearing to discuss the permit, and it will then be under its jurisdiction.

According to the CCC’S website, the commission takes an average of six to eight months to reach a final decision if the appeal raises a “substantial issue,” though it could take longer.

Breeana Greenberg

Breeana Greenberg is the city reporter for the Dana Point Times. She graduated from Chapman University with a bachelor of arts degree in English. Before joining Picket Fence Media, she worked as a freelance reporter with the Laguna Beach Independent. Breeana can be reached by email at bgreenberg@picketfencemedia.com

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