Single Biggest Problem for a Neighbor of an STR in Monterey County:
Is there anyone to complain to who can take effective action when an STR is operating illegally or a nuisance?
In Monterey County, no.
Single Biggest Problem for Citizens of Monterey where STRs and Home Stays have created a range of problems from the local – to the County as a whole – traffic, air pollution, damage to sensitive coastal parks, conversion of houses and apartments to STR/HS resulting in higher housing costs that squeeze workers, homelessness, longer commutes for workers that cost them time, gas and maintenance costs, and hurting employee retention and recruiting by businesses, use water allocated for other purposes, and threaten the stability of residential areas.
Is there anyone to complain to who can take effective action when an STR damages the County as a Whole?
In Monterey County, no.
Lack of enforcement has led to more than XXX rooms illegally for rent in Monterey County. They advertise publicly on sites like AirBnB and VRBO (and 50 others). Only 400 pay taxes. Despite a permitting that is much, much simpler than building a hotel, only 20 have sought and received permits – a 98% cheating rate.
And with no barriers to entry, weak or nonexistent enforcement, and free advertising, the number of homes that might be involved goes way up.
The Planning Commission has publicly announced it has neither the resources nor the desire to enforce the law. If they did, the fines are low – much less than a single months profits.
Neighbors are frustrated as thre is a constant stream of visitors in to residential areas not designed to accommodate them. All of the Land Use and Local Coastal Plans are being violated with impunity, severely limiting coastal access for visitors and residents alike. Our water shortage is being ifgnored in this process, and single family leach fields adjacent to natural jewls like Pt. Lobos and Big Sur are not beibng required to upgrade to commecial standards.
People who come to work here can’t afford housing because so many places have been converted to short-term rentals. Companies are having an increasingly hard time recruiting, even as tourism is going up.
The Planning Commission’s Draft Ordinance legalizes this behavior while proposing very meager enforcement resources to police the excesses, leaving enforcement up to the neighbors. County Counsel would also need to staff up. After six years of this, we want the County to do their job.
And despite the County’s view that making STR’s cheap and easy to permit will somehow solve the problem, in every cith that has tried that approach cheating has stayed rampant. Why would people renting whole house stop just because it is illegal under some future Draft Ordinance? They are renting illegally now. They have developed forms of ownership that eliminate personal liability and techniques to avoid detection, and if detected, to make enforcement much more difficult.
Anonymous Owner, L.L.C.: Why It Has Become So Easy to Hide in the Housing Market – The New York Times
Things that work:
Fortunately there are some policy options that work.
Advertising Illegal Rentals Banned and Heavily Fined:
Advertising Illegal Rentals Banned and Heavily Fined: Anaheim, CA; (Anaheim just banned short-term rentals entirely. Residents had complained that Disneyland visitors had overrun their neighborhoods. (New York Times; July 1, 2016);
Advertising Illegal Rentals Banned and Heavily Fined: Montecito, CA; (“Montecito Says No to Short-Term Rentals” Independent News, November 21, 2015; Growing sentiment countywide against short-term vacation rentals in residential neighborhoods received more unanimous backing with the Montecito Planning Commission’s recent support of an all-out ban, even in areas where vacation homes have been operating for years, such as Miramar Beach.);
Advertising Illegal Rentals Banned and Heavily Fined: Regulations also can be designed to require compliance by the online platforms themselves, who would be subject to stiff penalties for failing to help ensure their hosts are registered.
Other Policy Approaches
The Consensus Position:
6. Effective and veriﬁable self-policing.
Violation Penalties, Fines, STR’s are a “Nuisance” etc.
16. The remedies provided by this [ordinance] are cumulative and in addition to any other remedies available at law or in equity.
17. It shall be unlawful for any person to violate any provision, or to fail to comply with any of the requirements, of this Chapter. Any person violating any of the provisions or failing to comply with any of the mandatory requirements of this Chapter shall be guilty of an infraction. No proof of knowledge, intent, or other mental state is required to establish a violation.
18. Any condition caused or allowed to exist in violation of any of the provisions of this Chapter shall be deemed a public nuisance and shall, at the discretion of County, create a cause of action for penalty pursuant to Chapters 1.22 of this Code, and any other action authorized by law.
19. Each and every violation of this Chapter shall constitute a separate violation and shall be subject to all remedies and enforcement measures authorized by the Monterey County Code or otherwise authorized by law. Additionally, as a public nuisance, any violation of this Chapter shall be subject to injunctive relief, disgorgement of any payment to the County of any and all monies unlawfully obtained, costs of abatement, costs of restoration, costs of investigation, attorney fees, and any other relief or remedy available at law or in equity. The County may also pursue any and all remedies and actions available and applicable under state and local laws for any violations committed by the STR/Home Stay rental activity or persons related thereto, or associated with, the STR/Home Stay rental activity.
20. For violations of short term/home stay rental codes, an Enforcement Official may issue to a responsible person an administrative citation that imposes:
RMA code compliance activities are reactive in practice, meaning code compliance acts on the basis of citizen complaints. RMA code compliance classifies complaints according to three categories depending on the risk to human life, health, and safety:
- – Priority One cases pose an immediate risk to human life, health and safety or immediate environmental impacts. Priority One examples include men, women, and children living in sheds or dug out basements, and active dumping of waste, trash and debris into environmentally sensitive habits such as the Carmel River, the Elkhorn Slough and other waterways.
- – Priority Two cases include situations not of an immediate threat to human life, health, and safety, but that require attention to avoid such future risks. Priority Two examples include non-habitable accessory structures built without permits, contractor yards in residential zones, and rubbish and garbage on a parcel.
- – Priority Three cases pose no danger to human life, health and safety but include situations where County zoning or building code is not being followed. Priority Three examples include house color violations, fence height, or other setback violations. STR complaints are classified as priority three unless additional, more serious violations also exist on site.RMA code compliance prioritizes its response efforts according to these categories in order to focus its limited resources on the complaints which pose the most danger to the community. Given available resources, RMA code compliance priorities are established by RMA Chief of Building Services, following direction and input of the RMA Chief of Planning (Zoning Codes), RMA Deputy Director of Land Use and Community Development, and the RMA Director. Initial responses to complaints are determined by category according to priority as follows:
Priority One: A site visit is attempted by code compliance to assess the complaint. If unable to access the site, a courtesy letter is mailed to the property owner requesting access. Code compliance begins the research and analysis of permit and violation history on the parcel.
Priority Two: A courtesy letter is mailed to the property owner requesting a site visit. A site visit may also be attempted when code compliance is in the vicinity while performing Priority One inspection duties.
Priority Three: A courtesy letter is sent to the property owner advising how to remedy the code violation. Follow-up is done as time allows in relation to Priority One & Two caseload demands.
After the initial response, all priority levels then follow the same process: If a violation is confirmed, code compliance will issue a Notice of Violation and work with the property owner to achieve compliance. If no violation exists, the case will be closed. In practical terms, Priority One cases take most of the unit’s time and resources while Priority Three cases are handled mostly through voluntary compliance on the part of the offending party.