I am in receipt of your correspondence regarding Short Term Rentals dated April 12, 2016, and subsequent emails on April 28, 2016. Thank you for contacting the County and expressing your concerns. As indicated by Carl Holm, RMA Director, I am the staff lead for facilitating the STR Workgroup meetings and developing draft recommendations for regulating STRs in Monterey County.
As you are aware, in recent years Monterey County has experienced an increase in the number of residential properties being used for short term rental for overnight accommodations as well as events such as weddings. In response to concerns that the existing regulations (Bed and breakfast in coastal and inland areas; Transient occupancy rental in the inland areas) were not adequate to address this growing trend, Monterey County has begun work to update the existing zoning ordinances and draft new ordinances to regulate short term rentals and events. While events are sometimes related to short term rentals for overnight accommodations, these issues are being addressed through separate event regulations, specifically excluding events as part of STR uses.
Enforcement of Existing Regulation
Enforcement of the current Ordinance is being handled by the Resource Management Agency Code Compliance. Enforcement is reactive based on complaints received. Given available resources, the County classifies and pursues code violations by priority on a scale of one being the highest to three as the lowest. STRs are typically classified as priority three investigated and pursued as time allows. The exception would be STRs that have other violations that threaten life, health and safety (e.g., unpermitted or unsafe structures; inadequate water or sewage) would be priority one and actively pursued. Typically less than ten percent of the STR complaints received are priority one violations. Nuisance complaints (e.g., excessive noise, parking issues) related to STRs are often related to events that required permitting.
When Code Enforcement receives a complaint it is standard practices to send out a courtesy letter informing the property owner of nature of the complaint and that staff will be investigating as well as encouraging voluntary compliance if a violation is happening. If a complaint is found to have merit and the property has not already resolved the issue in response to the courtesy notice, Code Enforcement issues a Notice of Violation. The County’s practice is to work with individuals that have been responsive to our correspondence.
Lessons learned by the community and RMA Code Enforcement will be considered in the issue analysis and development of an updated ordinance.
Scope of the STR Workgroup, Convened by District 5 Supervisor, Dave Potter
As County staff began working to update zoning regulations with respect to short term rental (29 nights or fewer) of residential properties the wide range of experiences and opinions amongst community members became evident. There are strong supporters of short term rentals, and equally strong opponents. In response, Supervisor Potter’s Office convened the STR Workgroup in an effort to bring together a diverse group of individuals with a range of different opinions (pro, con, neutral) and experiences related to STRs, and representing different geographic areas of District 5. It was not within the purview of the working group to determine if and where STRs should be allowed or prohibited. Those are policy decisions to be made by the Planning Commission and ultimately the Board of Supervisors.
The STR workgroup was convened to discuss, attempt to gain consensus, and provide recommendations to staff on specific issues affecting the public/community which should be considered when working to create the draft ordinance (e.g.: Duration of stay, frequency, density, parking, noise, enforcement, permitting, etc). Admittedly, the workgroup has not been subject to public review or comment; however, participants of the group were encouraged to consult with others outside of the meetings. As RMA Director Holm indicated, in order to facilitate a positive discussion, the group’s attention was focused on identifying ordinance criteria that should be considered if short term rentals were to be allowed. The STR Workgroup more specifically explored the question that if short term rentals were to be allowed in their community, neighborhood, or even next door to their home, what issues would need to be addressed in an ordinance. Public comments outside of the workgroup will be included in the information provided to the Planning Commission.
The STR Workgroup started by discussing how other jurisdictions were regulating short term rentals and what criteria had been considered in their ordinances. The participants also raised additional concerns to be discussed and considered in an ordinance to regulate short term rentals. In addition to helping determine what criteria should be considered, the group spent significant time discussing and seeking to understand all participants’ concerns, experience, and needs. As you see in the records from the working group, the group identified where they were able to find ground for consensus on issues; when consensus was not possible the group focused on identifying what the range of options might include.
Process for Considering Updates or Changes to County Code for STRs
The workgroup’s input is just one of a number of resources being considered by staff to bring forward policy considerations to the public and policy makers regarding the regulation of short term rentals. The County team is preparing an STR Issues Analysis/Report that will bring together a comprehensive discussion of the options for regulating STRs. This analysis will include but is not limited to: a) how other jurisdictions are regulating STRs and lessons learned; b) relevant local policies (i.e. land use plans); c) public input; d) STR workgroup outcomes; and e) staff professional expertise and experience in Monterey County.
As a next step, the County team will hold a Planning Commission public workshop targeted for June. Based on the workshop presentation, public feedback and discussion, the Planning Commissioners will provide direction to staff for developing a draft update to the zoning ordinances (Title 20 and 21). Once an update to the zoning ordinances pertaining to STRs is drafted, a second PC workshop will be held for the public and Commissioners to review and provide feedback once again.
The ordinance will not discriminate against any person, of any classification. The public process is designed to afford opportunity to identify such issues and make adjustments.
Possible environmental and resource considerations will be discussed as part of our issues analysis and options discussion. However CEQA and the environmental documentation associated with it will be the independent judgment of the County based on the final outcome of drafting the Ordinance. Depending on the draft ordinance, technical report(s) may be required for the CEQA review. CEQA is an iterative process between issues, impacts and mitigation. A process involving discretionary review (subject to later site specific environmental analysis) potentially has less impact than a process that is ministerial (meaning a permit is issued if criteria are met).
Once complete staff will finalize the ordinance and return to the Planning Commission for a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors. The recommended ordinance will then be taken to the BOS for consideration and approval.
Once approved by the BOS, the ordinance pertaining to inland areas (Title 21) will be adopted and implemented. For the Coastal Zone (Title 20) the BOS adopted ordinance will be sent to the California Coastal Commission for consideration and approval. Only after Coast Commission approval an ordinance in the Coastal Zone come into effect.
Thank you for participating in the short term rental discussion.
Melanie Beretti | Special Programs Manager
Monterey County Resource Management Agency
168 W. Alisal, 2nd Floor | Salinas, CA 93901