Does Monterey County have enough hotel rooms and other visitor lodging options without STR’s? Will further proliferation of vacation rentals impair community character?

Additional articles:

The Revolt Against Tourism – The New York Times

Coastal Commission tells Laguna Beach to loosen up on Airbnb , One Commissioner says Ban Should Be Slightly More Tailored| 89.3 KPCC

The Coastal Commission says in its December 2016 letter:

“ . . . in situations where a community already provides an ample supply of vacation rentals and where further proliferation of vacation rentals would impair community character or other coastal resources, restrictions may be appropriate.”

Does Monterey County have enough hotel rooms and other visitor lodging options without STR’s?

“There are 11,976 visitor rooms in Monterey County provided by 222 lodging facilities.  Of these, 4,664 rooms are in the city of Monterey. These numbers include hotel rooms, bed and breakfast inns and vacation rentals managed by agencies. They do not yet include rentals listed solely on online platforms such as Airbnb.”  [From To be or AirBnB; Voices of Monterey Bay, by Joe Livernois, 12/7/17]

Both the Monterey County Hospitality Association and the Pacific Grove Chamber of Commerce that rooms are available at existing lodging facilities during the two busiest weeks of the year (AT&T Golf Tournament and the Concourse D’Elegance)

  • According to the Monterey County Hospitality Association, they are operating at a 71% occupancy rate.  They also do not completely sell out, even during the major events regularly held in the Monterey area.
  • In Pacific Grove, according to the Chamber of Commerce “We used to sell out all major events & public holidays. We are not selling out at all. The motels and B & Bs have raised their rates bigtime to reduce the impact of STRs.” (email from Moe Ammar).

Even in areas where STR’s are already banned like Carmel-by-the-Sea, City of Monterey, and the Coastal Zone of Monterey County, home rentals are allowed for 30 days.  As an example Jan Leasure of Monterey Bay Vacation Rentals said “she adheres to the county policy of requiring all short-term rental contracts in the coastal areas to run at least 30 days, though she said she doesn’t always charge renters for the entire month and can’t require them to stay for the full duration, which means those units can only be rented once a month and often remain vacant for much of the month.” (Monterey Herald, 7/8/17; Vacation rentals: Trying to rein in a runaway market, by Jim Johnson).

The Monterey County Vacation Rental Association on its website quotes former County Supervisor and former member of the California Coastal Commission Lou Calcagno:

“There are hundreds of second homes along the California coast sitting vacant over 300 days per year.  All we need to do is let these owners rent their home to offer greater public access to the coast.”

Each of these hundreds of homes can rent out once per month under existing law.  This needs to be taken in to account when calculating the supply of rentals available to visitors to Monterey and our coast.

  • The Carmel Highlands to Big Sur coastal area has 2,200 homes
  • Pacific Grove has licensed 280 homes as STR’s representing over 700 rooms
  • Pacific Grove has 8,000 housing units, and a large percentage could be rented for a month when needed.  The exact percentage can be debated.
  • Marina is reported to favor STR’s, and has 7,200 housing units.
  • Seaside is reported to favor STR’s. and has 10,872 units.
  • Overall there are 140,000 residential units in Monterey County.  During these busy times there are potentially over 140,000 rooms available.

There is clearly a vast oversupply of vacation rentals in Monterey County within the meaning of the Coastal Commission letter. for the 4.6 million people who visit the Monterey area each year.


 

How many more than 4.6 million visitors can the Monterey roads, parks, parking, water supply, and major attractions accommodate?

  • There was gridlock on Highway 1 between Carmel and Big Sur when Highway 1 was open all the way.  Fires, bridge repairs and mudslides have closed Highway for the last 2 years, but there is every reason to believe the gridlock will return when the highway reopens.
  • Point Lobos is already overrun with visitors.  Handicap parking has become almost impossible to obtain because the parking lot is full, and parking has to be done outside the park on both sides of Highway 1.  Visitors have to walk up to a mile to get to the coastal areas of Point Lobos.  Actual environmental damage is occurring.
  • Pfeiffer Beach at Sycamore Canyon in Big Sur suffer from gridlock on a tiny road, creating unsafe conditions for visitors and residents alike.  Actual environmental damage is occurring.
  • Thousands of hikers now use the back country around Big Sur, many more than in the past.
  • There is no water in the regional plan for thousands of additional hotel-equivalent businesses on the Monterey Peninsula.  The 500 acre-feet allocated above existing use is designated for existing businesses to expand, and development of lots-of-record,  There is no water allocated for thousands of STR’s.
  • Many parts of Monterey do not have sewage lines, and depend on septic tanks/leach fields for waste disposal.  This is particularly true in the coastal zone between Carmel and Big Sur.  If these leach fields are not properly sized and professionally maintained (i.e. pumped out, etc.) there is a very real risk of human sewage leaking on to neighbors properties and in to the ocean, which is a protected Marine Reserve among other special environmental designations.
  • So far Monterey County has chosen not to include requirements of compliance with ADA requirements, even for STR’s where the owner is not present, is run entirely by contract management, and can rent out for an unlimited number of times per year.  If STR’s put hotels out of business, there will be no place for the handicapped to stay in Monterey.

 



Will further proliferation of vacation rentals impair community character?

From To be or AirBnB; Voices of Monterey Bay, by Joe Livernois, 12/7/17

. . . Third, established residents say visitors who stay in short-term vacation rentals can be obnoxious and disruptive.

“acrimonious.” Several vacation-rental operators said they are tired of being harassed by “vigilante” neighbors who look for excuses to narc on them or who harangue the weekenders staying in their homes. “Neighbors are turning against neighbors,” said Carol Marshall, a STR operator. “Neighbors are acting out against neighbors, like vigilantes.”

If the existing visitor rooms are not sold out, what does STR accomplish other than to create a class of hotel-equivalent businesses that competes with the existing hotel businesses, but without the same safety, anti-discrimination, water conservation, leach field maintenance, hotel security, practical constraints on loud parties and offensive behavior, health and safety requirements (and costs)?



From the Monterey County Vacation Rental Alliance website:

The MCVRA dramatically overestimates the economic benefits of STR, while failing to take in to account any costs whatsoever.

The MCVRA relies on a study by TXP Inc. of Austin Texas entitled “The Local Economic Impact of Short Term Rentals in Monterey County.”  The study, published in the fall of 2014, can be found in its entirety here:  MCVRA Study on Economic Benefits of STR-OCR

The study is invalid on its face.  It makes several key and clearly erroneous assumptions. Specifically:

MCVRA Assumption: In 2013 . . . annual average occupancy rates  . . . reached [an] all time high of 65.3 percent . . .

FACT: The report itself (Figure 1 below) shows that from 2011 to 2013 the number of visitors by almost one million people from 2009 – 2010.

FACT: The report itself shows that there is plenty of lodging available for visitors and that  STR’s are not necessary.

 

 

 

MCVRA Study Graph Visitors 2007 to 2013