Here’s the text of the email I wrote to the Planning Commission that includes the text of a draft Initiative based on the West Hollywood ordinance banning STR’s.
It is time to start organizing for a Voter Initiative to make the right rules for our neighborhoods, and to prepare for litigation.
We are being deprived of our right to the “Quiet Enjoyment of our Homes,” and being offered unsafe, damaging STR policies that were never part of the plan for the Coastal Zone.
We are being ignored. We have made hundreds of comments and appearances over the past 6 years, and spent countless hours in research. We have met with elected officials to no avail. We have reached out to the STR community to develop compromise, only to have our efforts refused.
Our concerns about keeping our neighborhoods a good, safe place for our families; husbanding scarce water and coastal resources, and preserving the essence of our exceptional gifts from nature have not been taken seriously.
The County staff has been unable and/or unwilling to enforce the existing law even when we provide them with advertisements, posted comments from renters, photographs, and first-hand statements.
The Planning Commission and our elected leaders are going in the wrong direction, and have been for a long time.
We need to develop a Voter Initiative that bans STR’s the same way Santa Barbara, West Hollywood and hundreds of other communities have. And we need to prepare for the strong likelihood of litigation.
I hate litigation and I hope that it is not necessary. But if litigation begins, and it seems inevitable now, we need all the facts, opinions, and whatever else you can think of to be in the record. I don’t know what a court may or may not consider, but I do know that if it’s not in the record there is a possibility it can’t be used.
My inexpert reading of CEQA concludes that STR as envisioned by this Draft Ordinance violate most of the provisions of CEQA, and that litigation would be very successful in halting the Draft Ordinance. I personally do not have the financial or personal resources to launch a full-on legal contest, but will help where I can. I hope that someone else will retain counsel and get this started. A full-on Environmental Impact Report seems absolutely required for what amounts to the largest hotel-equivalent expansion in the history of Monterey.
I hereby incorporate by reference all previous comments and informational emails sent to the Planning Commission staff, with the intent that it be available for future litigation.
Using a voter initiative would take the process out of the hands of the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors. I don’t know how to write an Initiative, but I’ve done a draft (see below) for you all to think about, comment on, and improve. My draft is more or less a copy of the West Hollywood ordinance banning STR’s. The basic principles are:
· No STR’s in residential areas
· Strong Penalties for Violations
If the Planning Commission and our elected cannot implement a similar ordinance, we will use our best efforts to let the voters decide.
Link to the City of West Hollywood website http://www.weho.org/…/pu…/code-compliance/short-term-rentals
First Draft of Voter Initiative to Preserve and
Protect Our Neighborhoods and Coastline
Short Term Rentals
AirBnB, FlipKey, VRBO, HomeAway, etc.
By this Initiative, the voters of Monterey County decide to ban short-term rentals:
What the new law would mean:
1. No person shall rent a dwelling unit, or part of a dwelling unit, to anybody, for a period of 30 days or less. All rentals must be for 31 or more days.
2. The advertising of this activity is also prohibited. Flyers, posters, emails, online ads, and the like, are all prohibited.
Does the law apply to single family homes, apartments, condos, and guest houses?
Yes. This prohibition applies to all dwelling units in the County.
Is there an enforcement “grace period”?
No. Any short term vacation rental operating in the County is not permitted to do so.
Why should the voters adopt this ordinance?
The Carmel Land Use Plan that states:
The quality of experience offered by the Carmel coast should have precedence over the number or extent of any permitted uses, whether residential, recreational, or commercial. Any new development should complement the area and be compatible with the objective of careful resource protection and conservation. Conflicting uses should not be introduced. The achievement of these goals must involve restraint and continued responsibility. Both public and private interests will be best served by the continued preservation of the unique natural and cultural resources that make the Carmel coast a scenic jewel. (page 22)
Below is the analysis provided by the City of West Hollywood. It isw similar to bans in Carmel-by-the-Sea, Santa Barbara and other cities. It is equally applicable to Monterey:
“The City of West Hollywood convened a Shared Economy Task Force in 2014 to review and make recommendations to the City Council regarding Shared Economy business models. This included a comprehensive review of short-term rentals.
While short-term rentals may provide benefits to individual residents, strong concerns were raised by community members during the Task Force review process about quality-of-life and public safety impacts of short-term rentals, as well as the effect of short-term rentals on affordable housing in West Hollywood.
The Task Force ultimately recommended to City Council that it affirm and further clarify the existing prohibition of short-term rentals within West Hollywood.”
How the County shall respond to complaints:
When Code Compliance receives a complaint about this issue, a case will be generated and the enforcement process will begin. The following is a general guideline on how enforcement will proceed.
Step 1 – A warning notice will be issued to the tenant or property owner informing them that they are in violation of the prohibition on short-term rentals. They will be given 30 days to take the appropriate steps to correct the violation. This means the immediate stoppage of short term rentals and the taking down of any advertisement for such an activity.
Step 2 – A letter will be issued to the complainant informing them of the case # and what can be expected to take place in the coming days and weeks.
Step 3 – If the violation continues, citations will be issued to the violating party.
These fines will begin at 400% of the advertised rental rate and go up to 800%. Advertised Rental Rate shall be defined as the advertised nightly rate multiplied by the minimum number of nights required to rent the dwelling or part of the dwelling. The Advertised Rental Rate shall not include deposits or ancillary fees.
For ads that do not have a listed rental price, fines range from $1000.00 to $5000.00.
Step 4 – Although we do not anticipate the need to do so, continued non-compliance may result in this matter being referred to the County Prosecutor’s Office for criminal prosecution.
How to Report a Short Term Rental:
If you believe that a violation of this law is taking place, contacting Code Compliance should begin the enforcement process.
Call us at (to be provided) or Email us at (to be provided)
**When filing a concern, please provide a link to a website or advertisement for this rental if possible.
The text of the West Hollywood law reads as follows, and is suggested as the basis for the Voter Initiative
Monterey County [section tbd] – Short-Term Vacation Rentals
A. Rental Prohibited. No person or entity shall offer or provide a dwelling unit, or any portion thereof, for
rent for thirty (30) consecutive calendar days or less to any transient.
B. Advertisement. No person or entity shall maintain any advertisement of a rental prohibited by this section.
Monterey County [section tbd] – Definitions of Specialized Terms and Phrases
Advertisement. Any printed or lettered announcement, whether in a magazine, newspaper, handbill, notice, display, billboard, poster, Internet website or application, or any other form.
Rent. Consideration charged, whether or not received, for the occupancy of space in a dwelling unit valued in money, whether to be received in money, goods, labor or otherwise.
Transient. Any person who exercises occupancy or is entitled to occupancy of a dwelling unit for a period of thirty (30) consecutive calendar days or less, counting portions of calendar days as full days.