Questions Pertaining to Draft Ordinances establishing regulations for vacation rental (previously referred to as short-term rental) uses in the unincorporated areas of the County of Monterey (REF130043 and REF100042)
Numerous questions have arisen with respect to the Draft Ordinances establishing regulations for vacation rental (previously referred to as short-term rental) uses in the unincorporated areas of the County of Monterey (REF130043 and REF100042). These questions need to be answered both for our understanding of the Proposed Project so that we can comment knowledgeably and in detail, and also so the Planning Commissioners and Supervisors have a clear understanding and complete record of the facts upon which they will be voting.
Please note that “All answers must take account of the whole action involved, including off-site as well as on-site, cumulative as well as project-level, indirect as well as direct, and construction as well as operational impacts.”
- Combined_ENV_Vacation Rental Ordinances Public Review and Notice_2019.04.19;
- Combined_Vacation Rental Ordinances Public Review and Notice_2019.04.19;
- Combined_Vacation Rental Ordinances Public Review and Notice_2019.04.19;
- Vacation Rental Ordinance_Title 20_2019.04.19 Public Draft;
- Vacation Rental Ordinance_Title 21_2019.04.18 Public Draft;
- ATTACHMENT D_Coastal Table_040519_Final; and,
- ATTACHMENT E_Non-Coastal Table_040519_Final.
“LUP’s”: STRs/Homestays Conflict with applicable land use plans, policy, and regulations of the agencies with jurisdiction. Collectively they are referred to in this document as the”LUP’s” and/or “Land Use Plans.” These include:
- The Americans with Disabilities Act,
- Big Sur Land Use Plan,
- Big Sur Coast Land Use Plan,
- Highway 1 Big Sur Coast Highway Management Plan,
- CalFire Very High Wildfire Severity Zone,
- California Coastal Act,
- Carmel Area Land Use Plan – Local Coastal Program,
- Carmel Area Coastal Implementation Program,
- Carmel Area State Park Plan.
- Carmel Highlands and Carmel Riviera Master Plan,
- Carmel Riviera Mutual Water Company,
- Carmel Valley Planning Area of the Monterey County Community General Plan,
- Carmel Valley Master Plan,
- Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas (ESHA) including:
- The Monterey National Marine Sanctuary,The California Sea Otter Game Refuge, Carmel Bay State Marine Conservation Area, Lobos State Marine Reserve, Pt. Lobos Marine Conservation Area,
- Monterey County Coastal Implementation Plan – Title 20 Zoning Ordinance,
- Monterey County Title 21 – Inland Zoning Ordinance,
- Monterey County General Plan,
- National Marine Reserve,
- Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project.
- Is there sufficient hotel and other visitor accommodations in Monterey County?
- Except for major special event weeks, like the U.S. Open, AT&T Open, and the Concourse D’Elegance, is there an adequate number of hotel and other visitor accommodations (including already legal STR’s in Pacific Grove and Seaside)?
- Isn’t it true that under the existing LUP’s that homeowners in Monterey can generally rent their homes once per month?
- Doesn’t the fact that homeowners in Monterey can generally rent their homes once per month make up for any shortfalls in needed visitor accommodations during special event weeks?
- Is it a fair argument that the debate we should be having is “How many Visitor Serving Units” (“VSU”) be allowed in each planning area?
- Isn’t that the purpose of the “Visitor Serving Unit” sections of the LUP’s?
- If not used for the purpose of limiting or allowing new hotel rooms and similar accommodations, what are the VSU sections of the LUP’s for?
a) The numbers that were determined in 1988 or so were based on available infrastructure, environmental, and visitor experience requirements to achieve the right balance. It’s been 30 years – we’ve learned a lot from experience. The internet phenomenon of vacation room rentals being advertised to hundreds of millions of people at no cost didn’t exist when the LUP’s were enacted. The STR industry has exploded, with a range of adverse consequences all over the world, including Monterey County. Day traffic has increased dramatically as places like Bixby Bridge and Point Lobos become internet celebrities. Water availability is way down, and fire risk is way up.
- Shouldn’t we really be debating whether the numbers of VSU’s in the Land Use Plans should go up or down?
- How did the County decide that a “Homestay,” which is a room that is rented to a visitor is not considered a “visitor serving unit”?
- Will the County put a limit on the number of “Homestays” allowed in Carmel Highlands, Valley, and Big Sur?
- What is the current number of Short-Term Rentals operating with permits?
- What is the current number of Short-Term Rentals paying TOT?
- How did the County decide that a “commercial vacation rental” that is renting multiple rooms be considered a single visitor serving unit?
- Why did the County not simply ban all commercial vacation rentals from Carmel Highlands, Valley, and Big Sur?
- What is the current count of Visitor Serving Units in Carmel Highlands, Big Sur and east of Via Mallorca in Carmel Valley?
- Once the VSU cap is reached, how will the county deal with applications for permits?
- Why is the Planning Commission (“PC”) legitimizing the illegal gold rush that has already happened, and creating a much bigger gold rush in the form of Homestays instead of careful planning as required by the LUP’s?
a) Maybe the limits in the Land Use Plans, or the locations they allow, need to be revised.We do have an obligation to allow as many visitors to our area as we can consistent with the principles of the Land Use Plans. Maybe the number of Visitor Serving Units should be increased for an area, or more locations included. Maybe less? Maybe none?
18. Does the Draft Ordinance Conflict with Carmel Area Land Use Plan that requires strict Growth Management?
The Carmel Area Land Use Plan certified April 14, 1983 under Developmental Policies : Commercial 1. states:
“Commercial land use in the Carmel Coastal Segment shall be restricted to those locations of existing and proposed visitor-serving accommodations shown on the land use plan map or described in the text. Additional commercial designation of property is not compatible with the intent of the land use plan to preserve the natural and scenic character of the area.”
The pink areas on the Carmel Plan map clearly shows areas encompassing the three existing Inns, for instance the Highlands Inn. Also note the Carmel Area Use Plan defines commercial as “visitor serving ”. Given the primary business of these Inns was and is to rent visitors a place to reside on a short term basis there is no doubt a short term rental is by the definition used the Carmel Area Land Use Plan a commercial endeavor. Note the Monterey tax authority includes in its definition of a Hotel a single family residence used for transient occupancy.
The Carmel Area Land Use Plan Map clearly limits commercial visitor- serving areas to a small portion of Carmel Highlands. The County still uses the term visitor serving zoning (seen on the map) and includes private homes as one of the type structures used to house short term visitors.
The environmental assessment accompanying the Draft Ordinance ignores the Carmel Area Land Use Plan’s restriction of visitor accommodation services to a small area of Carmel Highlands. Instead the report chose to cite other sections claiming the intent of the Carmel Area Use Plan supports the proposed ordinance. To the extent their arguments introduce ambiguity 22.214.171.124 is helpful. “All development and use of the land, …. , must conform to the policies of this plan …. Where conflicts occur between one or more provisions of the plan, such conflicts shall be resolved in a manner which on the whole is the most protective of significant coastal resources.”
Given in the preamble of the proposed ordinance the County the County states Commercial Short Term Rentals have the potential to increase the “intensity of use” of a residence this “ambiguity” should be resolved in favor of limiting STRs to the Carmel Coastal Segment commercial zones.
Finally, 126.96.36.199 states “All development and use of the land, … , must conform to the policies of this plan ….”. The environmental impact report produced by the county argues Commercial Short Term Rental should be allowed because they limit converting existing permitted homes to STRs thus not supporting new development. However, the Carmel Area Land Use Plan states, “USE of the land must conform to the policies of this plan”. And, quoting from Commercial 1 “…commercial designation of property is not compatible with the land use plan …”.
The county is ignoring the fact the Carmel Land Use Plan makes no distinction between development and use/designation while proposing using existing residential structures as commercial enterprises that are outside of the limited commercial districts defined in the Carmel Area Land Use Plan.
- Guests at Homestays are usually unknown to the neighborhood, and change frequently.Isn’t this just like a hotel?
20. Does the Draft Ordinance Conflict with the Monterey County Coastal Implementation Plan (Chapter 20.146.040),the Carmel Area Land Use Plan, Section 5.3.4 (Table), the Carmel Area State Park Proposed General Plan?
- Why does the Draft Ordinance change or eliminate the affordable housing, neighborhood noise norms, parking, and other protections central to the existing Land Use Plans in favor of unlimited expansion of visitor accommodations?
- Is a Negative Declaration or Categorical Exemption sufficient for Homestay/STR’s that have a demonstrated track record of a massive decrease in long-term affordable housing reasonably near peoples jobs in Monterey, costing workers hundreds of millions of dollars?
- Have the Coastal Commission, and Cities around Monterey County regularly required EIR’s from hotel projects of far smaller size and impact than Homestay/STR’s?
- Doesn’t housing taken off the market decrease the supply for people who live and work for Monterey employers in the form of increased recruiting and employee retention costs?
- Is it a fair argument that to the extent neighborhood homes are converted to vacation rentals, that those families will have to go somewhere, and that housing will have to be built for them?
- Is there a surplus of housing for people displaced by Homestays/STR’s?
- Did the PC take in to account the current loss of teachers in Monterey County due high housing costs?See A Teaching Exodus: Teachers are being forced to move out of Monterey County
- The Land Use Plans do not allow “Intensification” of uses. However, this is exactly what happens when a home in a residential area is converted to a Homestay/STR. Indeed the Draft Ordinance states as one of its purposes: “Establish regulations that provide opportunity for homeowners and residents to participate in the sharing economy by offering vacation rentals for visitors that have the potential to provide financial benefits to offset the high cost of living in Monterey County.” Isn’t the better argument, let alone the fair argument, that the Draft Ordinance will in fact have the opposite effect because it takes housing off the market and does not even require that the “Principal Resident” needs to have any connection to the community other than being in the STR/Homestay business?
Visitor Serving Unit Limitations
- Is it a fair argument that the Carmel Area (including Carmel Highlands), Carmel Valley, and Big Sur Land Use Plans require a balance of welcoming tourists and other visitors, the environment, infrastructure, and quiet enjoyment of homes, and the safety of residential neighborhoods; and, the Draft Ordinance purpose and effect is to maximize the total number of people who may visit at the expense of the other priorities and purposes of the Land Use Plans?
- Isn’t this a wholesale change to all of the Land Use Plans that require a high quality of experience on the Coast and in Carmel Valley?
- Is it a fair argument that the Visitor Serving Units limitations are the critical component of all of the Land Use Plans that balances visitor, resident, infrastructure and environmental needs?
- How many of the Visitor Serving Units in Carmel Valley, Carmel Highlands, and Big Sur that are allowed by their Land Use Plans have been taken up by existing developments?
- Can STR be used affirmatively in some way to help create a lot more of desperately needed affordable housing for teachers?See the recent article:A Teaching Exodus: Teachers are being forced to move out of Monterey County
- Are workers in Monterey County already paying more than $78 million per year because of higher rent due to Homestay/STR’s already in operation?
a) Between July 2011 and July 2018 rent on 2 bedroom apartments increased 85% from $1,195 per month to $2,216 per month.
b) There are 70,000 rental units in Monterey County.
c) Some portion of this is attributable to STR/Home Stays taking affordable housing off the market. In other cities, studies attribute between 9.2% and 33% of the rent increases to STR/Home Stays.
d) Using the lower figure, 9.2%, the annual total cost to workers is $78,902,880.
- The County and Coastal Commission have required EIR’s for hotel projects in the coastal area of Monterey County. Under the Draft Ordinance Homestay/STR’s have no such requirement. Is it a fair argument that this makes building a hotel more expensive and time-consuming than buying some homes and turning them in to Homestay/STR’s?
a) For example, a 231 room hotel in Seaside went through over 30 years of environmental review, and that area is next to a freeway and is significantly less environmentally sensitive than Big Sur, Carmel Highlands and Carmel Valley.
b) The Draft Ordinance says: “C. Homestay and Limited Short-Term Rental uses are similar in character, density, and intensity to residential use, are not anticipated to remove long-term housing from the market, and therefore are allowed uses, where applicable, with a business permit.” But then the Draft Ordinance goes on to say: “D. Regulation of Vacation Rentals is necessary because Commercial Short-Term Rental uses, which may be rented at a greater frequency than Limited Short-Term Rentals and unlike Homestays do not have a Principal Resident residing concurrently when the unit is rented . . . “ If the Principal Resident is also managing the Homestay rental or otherwise working in the short-term rental industry, they will not be necessarily holding down a full-time job as a teacher, or a nurse, government worker or craftsperson. Doesn’t this by definition take long-term housing for people who live and work here off the market?
- What is the substantive difference on the environments, water use, infrastructure and economy of Monterey between a STR with 10 renters plus 5 daytime guests, and a Homestay with 10 renters and 5 daytime guests?
a) Isn’t the substantive difference in the effect on Monterey between short-term rentals and homestays as defined by the Draft Ordinance is that Homestays have one less bed for rent?
- Is it fair to say that the significant difference between Homestays and STR’s is that Homestay permits are cheaper, faster and easy to obtain, provide no way for neighbors to voice concerns and complaints, and are much more difficult impossible to prove violations?
- Why would anyone go for a Short-Term Rental permit when they can so easily get a Homestay permit which can be violated with relative impunity?
- If a Homestay business is more profitable than renting long-term, even with having an employee of the owner residing there, isn’t the economic incentive for owners to take more properties off the long-term rental market and use the home for vacation rental purposes only?
- Isn’t grandfathering all the illegal STR/Homestays with a path to legality through the Draft Ordinance likely to permanently take that long-term housing off the market?
- Is it a fair argument that both Homestays and STR’s as defined in the Draft Ordinance will convert single family homes and apartments in residential neighborhoods that were previously only for use of the owner, their invited guests, and long-term renters to houses that will, in whole or in part, be dedicated to renting for profit to tourists and other visitors, just like hotels?
- Is there a fair argument that working families who cannot afford the rents face the most daunting problems very long commutes, in some cases homelessness; and, when they try to obtain housing for their families after being on the streets, landlords are demanding fees to consider their applications, and higher up-front payments – often citing Air BnB as their reason, their alternative?
- Isn’t the environmental review required to consider cumulative water use impacts, which includes Homestay/STR’s that are illegal and/or unpermitted?
- Between existing STR’s and new ones under the Draft Ordinance, will they use all of the water allocated to other growth in the desalination plants currently undergoing permitting and environmental review?
- Is there any water allocated for STR/Homestays that already exist and can become legal in the Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project has had to be developed because of overpumping by Cal-Am from the Carmel River?
- Are the following calculations an accurate representation of the water demand for STR/Homestays?
In July 2018 there were 4,478 or more Rooms for Rent from STR/Home Stays in Monterey County. On average there were 2.42 people per room. Maximum daily number of people in STRs (maximum) is 10,837. By 2019 the numbers had increased around 30%.
The U.S. Geological Survey calculated in 2015 that average daily consumption per individual in our region is 82 gallons per day, of which half is used for landscaping, and the other half for personal uses. The landscaping occurs whether a property is an STR or not, so consumption per STR guest is approximately 41 gallons per day.
Total maximum water consumption is 444,307 gallons per day by STR/Home Stay tourists. Annually 162 million gallons which is 498 acre feet per year.
The proposed desalination project has a maximum of 500 acre-feet per year be available for additional demand for economic recovery of Monterey.
- Aren’t there moratoriums on new water connections (for construction of new homes and apartments) in many parts of Monterey both with Cal-Am and the many small water districts not connected to Cal-Am?
- The Draft Ordinances allows Homestays hosted by anyone as long as they live there at least half the year.Do they need to have a connection to the community other than hosting the Homestay?
- Do the Principal Resident or on-call representative have any personal liability for problems with the Homestay/STR?
- The Draft Ordinances allows Homestays hosted by anyone as long as they live there at least half the year.Could they could be an employee of a company that buys homes and converts them to vacation rentals?
- Can the Principal Resident be an employee of a commercial vacation rental company whose job is to reside in and rent out the Homestay property be changed at will by the owner?
- How will the RMA/PC enforce the requirement of a “Principal Resident” and determine if they actually live at the Homestay more than half the year, or if they are even present during the Homestay?
- If a Homestay is owned through a subsidiary headquartered outside the United States in a country that limits information availability, that is in turn a wholly owned subsidiary of an entity located in a third country that limits information availability, and the Principal Resident either does not live at the property more than 6 months, or even live there at all, what recourse does the RMA/PC have?
- Do the owners of a Homestay have to live in the United States?Do they have to have ever even been in the Untied States? If a Homestay is owned through a subsidiary headquartered outside the United States in a country that limits information availability, that is in turn a wholly owned subsidiary of an entity located in a third country that limits information availability, and the Principal Resident either does not live at the property more than 6 months, or even live there at all, how much time, personnel and costs are required to investigate, find the owner, issue the citations and prosecute the violation?
- The RMA/PC has announced it does not have those resources now, how does it get them?
- How many of the illegal and/or unpermitted Homestay/STR’s are operating because the PC announced it did not have the resources to enforce the law, and would not except for noise or other nuisance issues?
- How does the RMA/PC propose to enforce the limit on the number of people who can rent a Homestay at one time?
- Assuming cheating occurs, is it a fair argument that more rooms will be rented, and to more people, than are allowed by the Draft Ordinances?Please note that in Carmel Highlands and Big Sur that Homestay/STR’s are prohibited, so any rooms currently rented in those places is in excess of that allowed, and the County’s Contractor Host Compliance, and AirDNA report that average occupancy is 2.46 persons per room.
- Isn’t it a fair argument that the Draft Ordinance Homestay/STR’s are not accountable to their neighbors?
- Does the Draft Ordinance provide that the contact information for the owner, Principal Resident, and the 24 hour contact person are not made available to neighbors?
- Under the Draft Ordinance, if there is a problem, the neighbors have to contact the RMA. Many problems occur after office hours, and the RMA has announced that enforcement of Homestay/STR problems is their lowest priority and they do not have the personnel to respond.That the RMA would then have to contact the Homestay/STR representative. Isn’t it obvious that this doesn’t work to control negative behaviors such as noise, parking, and excessive water use?
a) Starting in 2016 Carmel Highlands residents have been complaining about an illegal short-term rental at 166 Mal Paso.On April 18, and some days before, the renters were setting off illegal fire crackers in the middle of a High Wildfire Severity Area. Previously other renters had been seen using massive amounts of water to play with by squirting each other with hoses, which the County was also notified of. We were also told they had not paid TOT. When we called the STR complaint line, they took our complaint, saying it could take several business days to contact the owner. We got a robo follow up call they put the address in Carmel-by-the-Sea, not Carmel Highlands, and any complaint we have made in the past would have had the same issue – because the zip code of the address on Host Compliance (93923) puts all of them on CBTS. The robo follow up also gave us the name of the police department to call if needed – the CBTS number, not County Sheriff. We had to call back through the phone tree to correct – but the very nice person was just an answering service not authorized to change this.
- Could a corporation or LLC acquire hundreds or thousands of homes, operate each through a subsidiary, and appoint an employee to be the “Principal Resident” under the Draft Ordinance?Aren’t there numerous such entities already in operation?
- Why does the PC think the amount of cheating will go down after these draft ordinances become law?
- Hasn’t cheating been common in the STR industry, even fundamental to its business plan?
a) For example, in the first public meeting on STR a representative of the STR owners group said, “Ask forgiveness, not permission.” And the following articles:
- How does the Draft Ordinance insure that personnel and budget will be available for the extremely difficult enforcement job it requires?
- Did you consider the Consensus Position that does have such a mechanism?
Mechanism of Enforcement in Consensus Position
a) Monterey County must first complete a study on required personnel and resources to enforce the ordinance, and then provide those resources;
b) Owners must provide multiple forms of proof they are year-round residents; and
c) Electronic evidence available over the internet that they physically resided at the STR during the Home Rental.
d) Veriﬁcation to be done by Monterey County.
e) Licenses for STRs/Home Stays are only valid as long as Monterey County provides the personnel and ﬁnancial resources to enforce the ordinance.
f) If Monterey County fails to provide adequate enforcement resources, STR/Home Stay licenses will be suspended until Monterey County remedies by providing required enforcement resources.
g) The County must adopt pro-active enforcement, using Host Compliance or similar service to locate violators, rather than relying on complaints from residents.
- How will the RMA enforce the Draft Ordinance to prevent the problem of large numbers of persons in excess of regulatory limits staying in the Homestay/STR whether the owner is present or not? This problem was cited to the RMA in the Carmel Highlands where an Homestay had 22 beds brought in for a week, in addition to the 6 bedrooms it already had.
- What role did the PC’s lack of enforcement of ordinances restricting or banning STR’s play in the number of STR’s increasing at more than 30% per year?
- Why does the Draft Ordinance allow hedge funds, LLC’s, and any other form of ownership of “Homestays”in residential areas that have presented almost insurmountable obstacles to enforcement in other cities and counties?
- In other jurisdictions allowing LLC’s and other corporate ownership forms makes finding the real owner difficult or impossible, and will require major commitments of time and personnel by the RMA to regulate, why do you believe it will be different in Monterey County?
- Given the RMA’s announcement it has neither personnel, budget or priority to regulate Homestays/STR’s, isnt’t the Draft Ordinancean open invitation to abuse by entities with no ties to the community?
- How will the county verify that someone is the permanent resident of a property?
- How will the county verify that the permanent resident of the property is on site during a rental?
- Will the county require on-line websites which advertise vacation rentals to verify that those rentals have the required permits and licenses?
- Will the county subject owners of previously unpermitted STRs to penalties and fines before issuing new permits to those owners?
- How will the county enforce this ordinance?
- What resources (money and personnel) does the county have specifically dedicated for enforcement in the annual budget?
- According to the PC Over 90% of short-term rentals in the unincorporated County are illegal, and operate openly despite its illegality because the County can’t or won’t enforce the law: what illegal behaviors are predictable and likely under the Draft Ordinance?
- Why hasn’t the County of Monterey aggressively sought to collect TOT and other taxes from the over 90% of STR’s the PC says has not paid their taxes?
- In the Draft Ordinance there are no density limits for Homestays, so there is a fair argument that a dense accumulation of the homes in a given neighborhood might become Homestay/STR’s?
a) Didn’t this in fact happen in Pacific Grove where all but one house on a block became Homestay/STR’s, and in Carmel Highlands where illegal Homestay were operating across the street from each other?
b) Could every house on a block become a Homestay or STR?
- What percentage of short-term rentals in Monterey are somebody renting a spare bedroom?
- What percentage are investment companies buying homes, and kicking out the long-term tenants so they can rent short-term?
- Do dozens, sometimes more people in Homestay/STR’s move in and out every day who have no connection to the neighborhood?
- In how many of Monterey County’s neighborhoods was it normal before 2015 for dozens, sometimes more people in Homestay/STR’s move in and out every day who have no connection to the neighborhood?
- Why were the following court cases and newspaper articles that were given to the Planning Commission ignored in the Draft Ordinance which concludes that Homestay/STR’s are normal residential uses, not hotel equivalent businesses, therefore allowing a Categorical Exemption?
- Isn’t the most basic feature of a neighborhood that a resident who makes their home life in the dwelling unit is accountable to neighbors, that there is strong motivation to be a good neighbor, one who is willing to self-regulate negative behaviors such as excessive traffic and noise?
- Without these social norms how is it possible for neighbors of Homestay/STR’s a stable home life for their families?
- Is it a fair argument that non-commercial residential areas are defined by uses that are non-transient, that it is for the fixed residence of a family or household?
- Isn’t it the nature of a residential area that the neighbors want to keep commercial uses like hotels out of their neighborhood?People can rent or buy homes in commercial/industrial areas if they wish.
- Do you agree that “Home life” consists of more than just the physical activities that are conducted on a property (e.g. cooking, eating, sleeping) – they are activities that are performed by family members or individuals who share a domestic interest?
- Isn’t cooking, eating and sleeping also done in hotels?
- Do you agree with the Canadian court that ruled:“Vacation rental properties can change the character and nature of a residential neighbourhood. Vacationers do not share the same long term goals that residents in a particular zone have – to have a comfortable, stable and secure environment in which they can live, work and play. While members of the travelling public may share the recreational aspects of these goals, their short term focus runs contrary to the long term goals of the residents. . . . Noise violations or parking problems do occur in residential zones that do not have vacation rental properties. To the contrary. However, such conduct is constrained when persons feel accountable to the other residents in a neighbourhood. Such accountability simply does not exist for members of the travelling public. . . . Second, as aptly noted by the Court in Whistler (Resort Municipality) v. Wright, 2003 BCSC 1192 at para. 51 [Wright], “[i]n order for property to be used as ‘residential’ property, it must be a fixed place of living, not a revolving door.”?
- Is it a fair argument that a constant influx of strangers in to residential areas changing weekly, sometimes daily has not been a character of the preponderance of neighborhoods in Carmel Highlands, Carmel Valley and Big Sur?
- What is the substantive difference in effect on a neighborhood, the environment, the community or demand on infrastructure between Homestays and Commercial STR’s except the presence of one person who has no ties to the community, and can be an employee of the owner?
- Do Homestays have limits on expansion, density in neighborhoods, parking, discrimination against the handicapped, inadequate wastewater capacity, and that could bring many thousands of strangers per year in to residential neighborhoods?
- What protections are there for families that have always relied on knowing their neighbors for safety and security for neighborhoods that have numerous Homestays?
- Don’t the Draft Ordinances relieve the Principal Resident of responsibility for complying with neighborhood norms, and instead rely on someone who is on call but also has no responsibility or requirement of connection or knowledge of the neighborhood?
- How is this the same as normal neighborhood practices in residential areas?
- One Homestay could have over 3,000 visitors per year, versus a family that lives here and knows the risks and sensitivities of the area.For example, when the humidity is very low, the winds are up, and the temperatures on the high side, fire risk is extreme. Full-time residents with ties to the community are very sensitive to these situations. If even 1% of the new visitors do not have that sensitivity, does the fire risk go up significantly?
- Does the RMA/PC/County have potential liability for failing to enforce the STR ordinances in the Mal Paso area where ocer 3 years numerous complaints were made about illegal fire works being set off in an area where the Mal Paso Creek area, the Carmel Highlands and the Big Sur Coast generally are all designated as “Very High Risk” and also as a “Very High Wildfire Severity Zone” for wildfires by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CALFIRE)?Aren’t there billions of dollars in potential liability if something like the 2016 Soberanes fire that burned 57 homes in this area results, cost $260 million to suppress, and at least one death?
- Is it a fair argument that the Draft Ordinance is inconsistent with the area Carmel Area Land Use Planwhich 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.”
The management objective of Highway 1 should be to optimize visitor use levels rather than maximize them. Future decisions pertaining to Highway 1 in the Carmel area must consider current recreational and residential use patterns and future demands for recreational use.”?
- Is it a fair argument that many of the current illegal and potentially permitted STR/Homestays operate septic systems directly adjacent to the National Marine Reserve?
- Is it a fair argument that the Draft Ordinance does not provide for assurances that the septic systems have the capacity and are maintained for the number of visitors, and that this number is the same as Commercial STR’s plus or minus one person?
104. Is it a fair argument that the coastal and inland areas of the Carmel Highlands are located within or adjacent to several protected natural resource areas and designated Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas (ESHA) including: The Monterey National Marine Sanctuary, The California Sea Otter Game Refuge, Carmel Bay State Marine Conservation Area, Pt. Lobos State Marine Reserve, Pt. Lobos Marine Conservation Area?
105. Does the Draft Ordinance conflict with the Monterey County Coastal Implementation Plan (Chapter 20.146.120) which states: All development and use of land, whether public or private, must conform to the development standards of this ordinance and must meet the same resource protection standards set forth in this ordinance. Where conflicts occur between one or more provisions of the plan, such conflicts shall be resolved in a manner which on the whole is the most protective of significant coastal resources”?
- For areas not appropriate or planned for public access, such access should be discouraged. Where such areas are located on private land, the County and other public agencies should cooperate with landowners to develop effective methods for directing access to appropriate locations.
- In encouraging public access, the County desires to ensure that the privacy, safety, health, and property of residents are protected. The visiting public (which is generally unaware of the hazards presented by surf and tide) should not be directed into hazardous locations unless professional supervision is provided.
- Do the septic tank and leach field capacity and maintenance provisions in the Draft Ordinance conflict Monterey County Coastal Implementation Plan (Chapter 20.146.050)? Specifically:
a) Proof of adequacy of septic systems may be required as a part of the permit application process. This proof of adequacy must document that the system is in working condition and is adequate to serve both the proposed and the existing use.
b) Any parcel in the Land Use Plan area proposed for up-zoning shall be tested and approved by the county Health Department for suitability for waste disposal systems prior to approval of the new zoning. Such testing shall be at the expense of the applicant.
- Many of the current illegal STR’s are advertising (e.g. VRBO, Airbnb, etc.) available occupancy levels far beyond the design capacities of these water and septic systems – as high as 8-12 occupants per rental. Our community has been under moratoriums of additional water connections, water rationing (see enclosed Carmel Riviera Mutual Water Co. water conservation notices), new septic system operation and construction restrictions and other development limitations (see the Carmel Highlands Onsite Wastewater Management Study. Should these occupancy levels continue or increase under a new STR ordinance with the current inadequate infrastructure conditions and over-capacities, and there is no evidence to suggest that they would not, do these newly permitted activities risk potential harmful effects to the coastal environment plus additional public health and safety risks to tourists and the surrounding neighbors?
- Could a single sewage spill do lasting damage to The Monterey National Marine Sanctuary, The California Sea Otter Game Refuge, Carmel Bay State Marine Conservation Area, Pt. Lobos State Marine Reserve, Pt. Lobos Marine Conservation Area?
- Are there critical populations of condors and Monarch Butterflies in Carmel Highlands, Big Sur, and Carmel Valley?
- Is there a fair argument that substantially increasing the year-round population of human visitors, unfamiliar with the area and its wildlife, might do damage to the survival of condors, monarch butterflies, and others.
- Why does the Draft Ordinance allows outdoor fires in areas and using equipment that will often not be familiar to visitors, and increases risk of the fire spreading, as has happened before in the Soberanes Fire. Does this Conflict with Monterey County Coastal Implementation Plan (Chapter 20.146.80)? which states:
Development shall only be permitted on areas of high to extreme (very high) fire hazards if: …the development will not increase the threat of fire, due to the adequacy of the fire protection measures required by the Fire District and other measures required by the Planning Department.
- Is it a fair argument that short-term renters add to traffic both directly and by taking long-term housing off the market, thereby forcing longer commutes for workers; and, in addition to increased day travellers and increased tourism in general that the Draft Ordinance contravenes the LUP’s?
- The Big Sur Coast Highway was declared the first State Scenic Highway in 1965. In 1996 it was designated the first All American Road under the Federal Highway Administration National Scenic Byways Program. Its role in providing affordable, readily available coastal access to millions of annual visitors is recognized in the Big Sur and Carmel Highlands Land Use Plans. The mandate to protect the quality of the recreational driving experience is likewise addressed in the Big Sur and Carmel Highlands Land Use Plans. Management of the use and capacity of Highway I is essential to achieving the goals of the Big Sur and Carmel Highlands Land Use Plans to provide public access to the Big Sur Coast along this scenic route and the protection of the environment and quality of the visitor experience.
- The Big Sur Coast Highway is required by the California Coastal Act to be maintained as a scenic two-lane road in rural areas (south of the Carmel River). As a state and federal scenic road, the Big Sur LUPaddresses vehicular capacity of the highway and public access to protect environmental quality and visitor experience. Similarly, the Carmel Highlands-Riviera Master Plan seeks to preserve the scenic, rural character of that community through the use of scenic easements, retention of native vegetation, and maintenance of Highway 1 as a scenic two-lane road. However, vehicular capacities are already being exceeded on Highway 1, and visitor damage to roadside habitat is routinely reported in the press.
a) Carmel Area State Parks says:
i) While not an issue limited just to CASP as a destination, transportation and parking issues have become more urgent as the popularity of parks, reserves, National Forest lands, other public open space, and tourism in the Monterey-to-Big Sur region has grown. Interrelated issues include traffic congestion, vehicle circulation, parking adequacy, and pedestrian access and safety. Currently, the vast majority of visitors must rely on personal autos as the primary transportation mode to reach CASP units and other similar destinations in the region. SR 1 becomes heavily congested during periods of substantial visitation and peak local commute times, causing mobility problems for local residents and visitors alike. Parking on the highway shoulders within the right- of-way of SR 1 near the Reserve and Coastal Area contributes to traffic congestion, creates pedestrian risks, and adds to excessive uncontrolled walk-in visitation to the Reserve.
- Why did the Draft Ordinance fail to address the wastewater issues raised by the Mal Paso Creek Property Owners Association (‘MPCPA”)?
- Does the OWMS focus on recommendations for solutions to environmental and public health problems resulting from inadequate or unsuitable septic system conditions in the Carmel Highlands?
- Is it a fair argument that given the problems outlined in this report, lack of detailed information on the operational integrity of the existing wastewater treatment systems, adverse geological conditions, and the reported potential for environmental harm, it can be concluded or inferred from the presented facts that permitting Homestay/STR’s in the Carmel Highlands would exacerbate the current environmental problems and that further detailed study would be necessary to even understand the environmental impacts of allowing STR’s in the fragile and protected areas of the Carmel Highlands and other Coastal Zone areas?
- For this wastewater reason alone, isn’t it a fair argument that no regulatory change or new ordinance governing the operation of short-term rentals within Carmel Highlands or generally within the Coastal Zone can be considered by the County without a full CEQA review and EIR?
- Should experts experienced with the relevant environmental and public health knowledge should review, and perhaps re-evaluate the original OWMS, for more issues related to the potential environmental harm of adding STR’s to the ongoing septic system issues within the Carmel Highlands and elsewhere in the Coastal Zone?
This report does not directly address the consequences of adding new Homestay/STR’s and other commercial rental properties to the Carmel Highlands.
The following are some pertinent excerpts from the Carmel Highlands OWMS:
(The complete report is available on the Monterey County’s website at: http://www.co.monterey.ca.us/home/showdocument?id=46532. An earlier and shorter version is also available at: http://www.co.monterey.ca.us/home/showdocument?id=14904)
- 6, Par. 3: Soil and geologic conditions in Cannel Highlands present moderate to severe constraints for OWTS…
- 5, Par. 5: All OWTS are currently regulated by the Monterey County Division of Environmental Health under the provisions of County Code Chapter 15.20. However, since development in Carmel Highlands dates back to the 1950s, OWTS have been installed over many years under differing regulatory requirements and industry practices that have evolved over the past 60 years. Some of the relevant statistics regarding OWTS in Carmel Highlands determined from County files include the following:
- 32% of the OWTS are more than 50 years old; about half are more than 30 years old.
- 71% of the OWTS have still use their original system; 29% have been repaired or modified
- There are an estimated 10 to 15 OWTS that discharge to the ocean rather than to an onsite disposal field.
- 6, Par. 4: Based on the age of the existing OWTS, it is reasonable to expect that in the foreseeable future as many as 30 to 50 percent of the OWTS in the study area will require significant upgrade and/or replacement.
- 7, Par. 3:A significant threat to ocean water quality is posed by the OWTS serving ocean-front homes. where there are estimated to be 10 to 15 systems that have direct discharges of effluent to the ocean. These discharges are not in compliance with either County Code, California Water Code, or the Federal Clean Water Act and pose a direct threat to beneficial uses of the ocean waters …
- 7, Par. 4: Approximately 25 to 30 percent of the parcels in Carmel Highlands either border or are within 100 feet of one or the major streams or seasonal tributaries that drain through the area. Although no water quality data are available for local streams, wastewater contaminants, especially pathogens, reaching local streams could adversely impact recreational uses, especially in the lower reaches or the streams where they meet the ocean. An additional concern is the potential impact on groundwater quality and drinking water uses, via percolation and recharge of the bedrock aquifer along the stream channels.
- 11, Par. 2: Although the Carmel Highlands area does not have a documented high rate of overt failures of OWTS, information on the design, age, repair history, and septic tank pumping data indicate chronic operational difficulties, severe problems in specific areas, and a likelihood of significant repair or upgrade needs in the foreseeable future. Management of existing systems can be improved by (a) identifying and taking abatement action for the existing ocean discharge systems; (b) instituting a new septic tank pumper inspection/reporting program; (c) adopting performance evaluation and other requirements for system repairs and remodel projects; and (d) implementing a water quality monitoring program to provide baseline information and ongoing tracking of OWTS impacts on the environment.
- 102 Par. 7: Conduct environmental studies in connection with the feasibility analysis and conduct complete environmental review under CEQA of recommended sewerage facilities plan.
- 103, Par. 1: Implementation of the recommended sewerage facilities plan would be based upon the results of the engineering and environmental studies.This is anticipated to include the following.
- CEQA Certification. Certification of the environmental document for the sewerage facilities plan by Monterey County, per CEQA.
- Why did the Draft Ordinance fail to address issues regarding many public safety, quality of life, compliance with zoning, CC&Rs and Coastal LUP, along with environmental and cultural resource protection issues raised in letters (see letters dated Nov. 8th2016, and July 2nd2018) and public testimony from MPCPA?
- Is the MPCPA a voluntary association of property owners established in 1968 representing approximately 225 households in the southern section of the Carmel Highlands including Otter Cove (Aurora Del Mar) and Victorine Ranch, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit corporation and our mission is to: “Protect, conserve and defend the single-family residential character of the Mal Paso Creek area.”?
- Is it a fair argument that the existence of the MPCPA since 1968 is evidence that the intent of the Land Use Plan is to keep Carmel Highlands single family residential areas for single families?
- Is it a fair argument that septic systems can fail for multiple reasons; besides age and disrepair, systems can also fail due to long-term overuse or instantaneous overuse beyond system design and/or capacity?
- Is it a fair argument that given the age, condition, changes in engineering and permit requirements over the years, and unknown construction factors cited in the OWMS and given the high occupancy rates (two persons per bedroom) being considered in the draft STR ordinance, it is reasonable to extrapolate that overuse on older existing septic systems are a very real environmental and public health risk?
- Is it a fair argument that within the Carmel Highlands there has always been a fairly high number of non-resident property ownership, ranging between 20% – 30% over the years with most of these properties having historically been either very occasionally or seasonally used vacation properties for their owners?
- Isn’t it correct that for most of the year these properties used to sit vacant and did not have as significant of impacts on the environment or local infrastructure, and that these formerly low-use vacation homes are the very properties that we now see being utilized as illegal vacation rentals – therefore, causing a higher level of use than existed before with the consequent increased level of environmental impacts?
- Under the Draft Ordinance is it likely that these higher levels of use would continue and increase as more low-use properties are converted to short term rentals?
- Are the following fair resources for determining the significance of greenhouse gas emissions from existing and future Homestay/STR’s?
- Is the Significance Threshold for Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Monterey County is 10,000 Metric Tons of Carbon Dioxide and equivalents?
- Are two fair factors to determine if the Status Quo and/or Draft Ordinance exceed this threshold 1) Number of vehicles from tourists staying in STR’s; and, 2) Additional Driving by Workers forced to find housing further from their jobs?
- Are these calculations accurate for purposes of determining the total CO2 emissions versus the Significance Threshold?
Cars Driven by Tourists Staying in STR’s
The County as a whole including the Cities (July 2018) had 2,073 listings that fit the STR definition – with a total of 4,478 rooms for rent.
Using the July 2018 data, assuming one car per room that equals 4,476 vehicles. Assuming STRs continue to expand at 30% or more per year (the current rate of expansion), by 2020 there will be over 5,000 vehicles.
CO2 per year for a car is 4.6 metric tons
at 100% capacity factor = 23,000 metric tons/year
at 71% capacity factor = 16,330 metric tons/year
Many complaints about increased commutes are made by workers forced to live farther from their jobs. Over 400 people per day commute to Bug Sur – a commute of over 50 miles each way for many. Many people who work in Monterey have been forced to move in to the Salinas area – an additional commute of 10 to 20 miles each way.
There are more than 70,000 people who commute to work from apartments. For every 5 miles each way they have to commute, greenhouse gas emissions are:
10 miles per day x
70,000 vehicles x
200 days per year x
0.89 pounds of CO2 (404 grams) per mile
= 56,519 MT (note – there are 2,204.62 pounds per Metric ton)
Significance Threshold = 10,000 metric tons/year
- Is it a fair argument that the ADA should apply to Homestay/STR’s because of changed circumstrances since 2015 in the Homestay/STR industry?
For example, San Luis Obispo and other jurisdictions did not believe that the Americans with Disabilities Act applied to their Homestay/STR policies because “ADA requirements would only be applicable if the residence was operated with all the amenities typical of a hotel and that are identified in section (1)(ii)B” which are
(1) On- or off-site management and reservations service;
(2) Rooms available on a walk-up or call-in basis;
(3) Availability of housekeeping or linen service; and
(4) Acceptance of reservations for a guest room type without guaranteeing a particular unit or room until check in, and without a prior lease or security deposit.
However, since that time (2015) the STR industry has changed and all of these amenities are now available in Monterey County for Homestay/STR’s, see:
(1) On- or off-site management and reservations service;
(2) Rooms available on a walk-up or call-in basis;
(3) Availability of housekeeping or linen service; and
(4) Acceptance of reservations for a guest room type without guaranteeing a particular unit or room until check in, and without a prior lease or security deposit.
- What alternatives did you consider and why did you reject them?
- Did you consider the STR experiences and policies of Carmel-by-the-Sea?
- Did you consider the STR experiences and policies of City of Monterey?
- Did you consider the STR experiences and policies of Pacific Grove?
- Did you consider the STR Consensus Position of July 10, 2018?
- Did you consider the STR experiences and policies of Venice, California?
- Did you consider the STR experiences and policies of Montecito, CA?
- Did you consider the STR experiences and policies of Miami, FL?
- Did you consider strict enforcement of the existing laws?
Carmel LUP sec 6.2.2, page 116
https://preservemontereyneighborhoods.files.wordpress.com/2018/08/monterey-county-coastal-implementation-plan-carmel-area-land-use-chapter-20-146.pdf – (Ref. Policy 188.8.131.52). (CML-16); also (Ref. Policy 2.3.4; Wetlands and Marine Habitats Policy #5). (CML-20)
(updated 11/23/1999), section 2.1
“A neighboring proposed Sand City eco-resort project received coastal commission approval this year after two decades of effort . . . Like Ghandour’s Monterey Bay Shores resort, the King Ventures project, dubbed “The Collections,” has gone through numerous iterations and attempts to gain the commission’s approval that span decades. The commission first denied a permit for a 229-unit Sand City-approved project on the site in 1986. In 1989, the city approved a 136-unit project, but a lawsuit challenged its compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act. Next, the city approved a similar project in 1990. The coastal commission approved the project with special conditions in 1991, but a Monterey County court found problems with environmental documents. The city updated the environmental documents in 1993 and re-approved the project. The commission approved it with special conditions in 1994, but asked that an alternative water source be found instead of a city-run desalination plant. After years of setbacks, the commission declined to extend the project in 1999, saying circumstances had changed.” https://preservemontereyneighborhoods.community/articles-about-ceqa-review-of-hotel-projects-in-monterey/
“In Anaheim, on West Skywood Circle, a six-bedroom home about six miles from Disneyland rents for an average of $617 a night. Under city code, the home can accommodate no more than 20 people. But in a recent online review, a tenant bragged about squeezing 34 people into the home.” https://preservemontereyneighborhoods.files.wordpress.com/2018/08/a-surge-in-short-term-rentals-means-no-rr-for-some-anaheim-residents.pdf
Court Holding STR Not a Residential Use– 2018 BCSC 752 Nanaimo (Regional District) v. Saccomani;
https://preservemontereyneighborhoods.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/carmel-area-land-use-plan-local-coastal-program.pdf; page 22
https://preservemontereyneighborhoods.files.wordpress.com/2018/08/monterey-county-coastal-implementation-plan-carmel-area-land-use-chapter-20-146.pdf ((Ref. Policy 184.108.40.206). (CML-57); and (Ref. Policy 220.127.116.11). (CML-16)
https://preservemontereyneighborhoods.files.wordpress.com/2018/08/monterey-county-coastal-implementation-plan-carmel-area-land-use-chapter-20-146.pdf (Ref. Policy 2.4.4. B. 3 Water Pollution Control). Dual leach fields are required for any new development in Carmel Highlands and other areas in the Camel area Coastal Segment which are not expected to be served by sewers or package treatment plants.
https://preservemontereyneighborhoods.files.wordpress.com/2018/08/monterey-county-coastal-implementation-plan-carmel-area-land-use-chapter-20-146.pdf (Ref. Policy 2.4.4.B.4 Water Pollution Control). (CML-26)
19. Outdoor fire areas, when not prohibited by state or local fire bans or regulations, may be allowed in approved recreational fire or portable fireplace containers, shall be located not less than 15 feet from a structure provided appropriate provisions have been made to prevent the spread of fire to nearby fuel. Such provisions include, but are not limited to, locating the fire container on a non-combustible surface, covering the fire by a fire screen, and extinguishing the fire as soon as it is no longer in use or by 10:00 p.m., whichever is earlier. The Homestay operation shall adhere to Chapter 18.09 – Fire Code, of the Monterey County Code, as periodically amended.” See Draft 04.18.19 ORDINANCE NO. ____ ; AN ORDINANCE OF THE COUNTY OF MONTEREY, STATE OF CALIFORNIA, AMENDING SECTION 7.02.060 OF THE MONTEREY COUNTY CODE AND ADDING CHAPTER 7.110 RELATING TO VACATION RENTAL ACTIVITIES;
County of Monterey Section 4.3. Air Quality and Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Generate greenhouse gas emissions, either directly or indirectly, that may have a significant impact on the environment; and/or conflict with an applicable plan, policy or regulation adopted for the purpose of reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases. The 2014 CEQA Guidelines do not establish a quantitative threshold of significance for GHG impacts; instead, lead agencies have the discretion to establish such thresholds for their respective jurisdictions. In Monterey County, the Greenhouse Gas Thresholds and Supporting Evidence prepared by the San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District (SLOAPCD) in 2012 is typically used as a guideline for evaluating GHG emissions for CEQA documents within Monterey County (MBUAPCD 2014). The threshold established by the SLOAPCD is 10,000 metric tons (MT)/year for stationary sources, or 1,150 MT/year or 4.9 MT Service Population (SP)/year (residents +employees). This stationary source threshold is consistent with the threshold established by the BAAQMD, the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District, and Santa Barbara County standards.
Therefore, a proposed project would have a significant impact related to GHG emissions if the project would:
- Generate more than 10,000 MT of equivalent carbon dioxide (CO2e) per year; or
- Generate 4.9 MT SP per year.
- It should be noted that no air district has the power to establish definitive thresholds that will completely relieve a lead agency of the obligation to determine significance on a case-by-case basis (South Coast Air Quality Management District [SCAQMD] 2008). Additionally, SLOAPCD requires that construction emission of a project be amortized over the life of a project and added to the operational emissions.
https://preservemontereyneighborhoods.community/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/WSJ-News-Alert-Marriott-to-Take-On-Airbnb-in-Booming-HomeRental-Market.pdf and https://preservemontereyneighborhoods.community/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Marriotts-New-Expansion-Deepens-Rivalry-Between-Hotels-And-Home-Renting-NPR.pdf