CEQA EIR Required? Utilities and Service Systems; Water Use


a) Exceed wastewater treatment requirements of the applicable Regional Water Quality Control Board?

d) Have sufficient water supplies available to serve the project from existing entitlements and resources, or are new or expanded entitlements needed?


There is no Water Supply for STR’s and they use all of the potential water planned for growth from the Regional Water Supply projects

Harper Subdivision environmental review overturned because of inadequate water supply analysis.  The ruling noted that the project’s draft environmental impact report failed to properly identify the subdivision’s groundwater source location and adding that the water supply tied to the Salinas Valley groundwater basin is in overdraft.”

STRs use far more water than the Harper Subdivision

See: Harper Canyon subdivision approval overturned in court

For further detailed information see: Monterey Regional Water Supply Project EIR

The largest provider of water to Monterey County is Cal-Am.  In addition there are numerous entities like Carmel Riviera Mutual Water Co.[i]that provide well water from aquifers, and others in Big Sur and elsewhere that pump water from rivers.  Cal-Am obtains its water from a variety of sources, including the Carmel River.

Over pumping from rivers can have a Significant Impact on the ecosystem of the river and adjacent areas. Cal-Am is under a cutback order by the to reduce its pumping from the Carmel River because of environmental damage its overpumping caused.[ii]  Judicially ordered cutbacks for Carmel River water and seawater intrusion into aquifers have resulted in water conservation requirements in numerous coastal cities.[iii]

[i]Carmel Riviera Mutual Water Company principally provides water to the Mal Paso and Yankee Point communities

Water Shortage in Monterey    [i]

Cal Am facing potential multimillion-dollar fine over residential water allocation system

The Planning and Coastal Commissions do not have the authority to divert up to 2.6 million gallons of water per day from existing homes and businesses in Monterey County. Coastal Commission and Committee positions are in direct conflict with the “Water Availability” provisions of the Carmel Land Use Plan, Local Coastal Plan which states[v]:

New development shall be approved only where it can be demonstrated by the applicant that adequate water is available from a water utility or community system or an acceptable surface water diversion, spring, or well. At the County’s discretion, applicants may be required to submit a hydrologic report certifying sustained yield of the water source to serve new development outside of existing water utility service areas.

As part of the permit process, the applicant must also demonstrate that the proposed new water use or use intensification will not adversely affect both the natural supply necessary to maintain the environment, including wildlife, fish, and plant communities, and the supply available to meet the minimum needs of existing users during the driest year. At the County’s discretion, the applicant may be required to support his application through certification by a consultant deemed qualified by the County to make such determinations. The County will request that the Department of Fish and Game provide a written recommendation on each application

For example, according to Monterey County NOW (April 2, 2009)

Sand Castle

Monterey Bay Shores Ecoresort is buried to the neck in drama.

For the past 16 years, Sonoma-based developer Ed Ghandour of Security National Guaranty has poured a fortune into planning, litigation and wheel-greasing in an effort to secure permits for Monterey Bay Shores, a 341-room, $225 million mixed-use resort on a 32-acre former sand mine in Sand City. . . Almost a decade ago, the Monterey Peninsula Regional Water Management District denied Ghandour’s water distribution permit and the California Coastal Commission quashed the coastal development permit. For the next nine years Ghandour fought back with failed appeals and dead-end design revisions. . . . But last May, Ghandour regained his advantage: The appellate court overturned the Coastal Commission’s decision and ordered it to reconsider the development application based on Sand City’s Local Coastal Plan, an easier standard than the state’s. . . . The water board issued Ghandour a setback last month by denying his water distribution permit, questioning the environmental impacts of a water supply delivered by California American Water. . . . “The Coastal Commission has denied any and all new developments using new water in North County for years, based on the fact that that area has an inadequate water supply. Ghandour has a right to use that water, but he can’t do it without an analysis of the impacts of that use



The Coastal Commission and Committee positions are in direct conflict with the “Water Availability” provisions of the Carmel Land Use Plan, Local Coastal Plan.[vi]


Some areas, such as the Mal Paso Creek and parts of the Walden circle area in Carmel Highlands, and many areas of Big  Sur, use well water (and storage is minimal).  In the case of Mal Paso the wells are at or near capacity.  Intensification of water use in these areas has the potential to create serious problems.

  • Cal-Am will have inadequate water supply within 3 years unless the Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project or equivalent is built. There is no water for growth at this time.  Even under the Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project there are only 500 acre-feet per year allocated for growth. STR/Home Stays are currently using close to 500 acre-feet of water per year, and at a 30% annual growth rate will exceed that amount soon.


  • As Monterey grows and the local economy recovers, there will be no water supply for them unless Cal-Am illegally pumps water from the Carmel River, and thereby continuing the environmental damage that the Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project is being built to prevent. This violates all of the Land Use Plans, and Monterey County’s filings with the Public Utility Commission in connection with the Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project
  • There are no limits on water consumption by STR/Home Stays.[ii] The Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project has had to be developed because of overpumping by Cal-Am from the Carmel River.


  • The proposed desalination project has a maximum of 500 acre-feet per year be available for additional demand for economic recovery of Monterey.[iii]


  • There is no provision in the Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project for STRs/Home Stays.

Calculation of Usage by STRs

There are 2.42 people per room in STR/Home Stays.  They use 41 gallons per day for personal use (not gardening).  That’s 12.68 rooms per acre-foot.  Or put another way that’s 1,268 rooms for every 100 acre feet of water.  To use all of the water allocated for all future growth if all water supply projects are completed would require 6,340 rooms.  We are at around 4,000 now and growing at 30% per year.  We will reach 6,340 in two years – before the water supply projects are even completed.

  • 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. (discussed in detail above).  Maximum daily number of people in STRs (maximum) is 10,837.


  • 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.


[ii]CV-3.20  A discretionary permit shall be required for new wells in the Carmel Valley alluvial aquifer. All new wells shall be required to fully offset any increase in extractions from this aquifer (see Policies PS-3.4 andPS-3.5). These requirements shall be maintained until such a time that the Coastal Water project (or its equivalent) results in elimination of all Cal-Am withdrawals in excess of its legal rights. Monterey County General Plan Carmel Valley Master Plan October 26, 2010 – Amended as of February 12, 2013 Page, CVMP-1



This violates all of the Land Use Plans, and Monterey County’s filings with the Public Utility Commission in connection with the Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project.



  • Monterey County Total Numbers of STR’s, and Bedrooms for Rent in STR’s


  • Figures vary from different sources, but the contractor to Monterey County found 799 advertised rentals in January 2018.[i] There are a little over 2 bedrooms rented per site,[ii]and an average of slightly over 2 people per room.[iii]


  • In July 2018 there were 1,726 rooms for rent in Monterey County – the vast majority on the coast and in Carmel Valley.


  • And this vastly understates the total impact of STR on Monterey County because these figures are for the Unincorporated area only.


  • 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.[iv] These tourists, although they may be sleeping at their rooms in Pacific Grove, Seaside, Marina or other City, go to the same places tourists who stay in hotels go.  Big Sur and Point Lobos are two of the prime tourist destinations in the world.


  • STRs/Home Stays are hotel equivalent businesses, not residential uses as stated by the Planning Commission.[v]



[i]Host Compliance Report, Monterey County Planning Commission Agenda Item No. 2; Legistar File Number: PC 18-009; REF100042/REF130043 – SHORT-TERM RENTAL CODE COMPLIANCE: January 31, 2018

[ii]The actual number of rooms per STR is 2.16; https://preservemontereyneighborhoods.community/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/airdna-report-complete-all-cities-and-regions.pdf

[iii]The actual number of people per room per STR is 2.42; https://preservemontereyneighborhoods.community/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/airdna-report-complete-all-cities-and-regions.pdf


[v]Court Holding STR Not a Residential Use2018 BCSC 752 Nanaimo (Regional District) v. Saccomani;

Additional Articles and Documents


Conservation wanes, California water use back to pre-drought levels

Americans are conserving water like never before, according to the latest federal data –

Malibu_s Summer Rental Market Booms – WSJ;

WSJ Report on AirBnB March 2017;

Top bunk for $30 a day: Life inside one of Airbnb_s modern boardinghouses – The Washington Post;

New York City loft-dweller fined $185K for tourist rentals – San Francisco Chronicle;

Landlords turned 14 SF apartments into illegal Airbnbs, city attorney says – San Francisco Chronicle;

Home-Sharing Hosts Turn to Online Property Management Firms for Help – WSJ;

Rental sites like Airbnb aren’t as innocuous as they pretend – LA Times ;

The Business Tycoons of Airbnb – NYTimes.com  ;

Hosts with Multiple Units – A Key Driver of Airbnb Growth  ;

Taking the Work Out of Short-Term Rentals – The New York Times;

How to Run an Airbnb Business from Anywhere in the World! – YouTube;

How to Bring the Hotel Spa to Your Airbnb – The New York Times


From Comments by Michael Emmett, President, Mal Paso Property Association

“I . . . highlight the water and septic issues as there is a body of evidence showing environmental concerns under the current land use provisions and “infer” that the addition of STR’s at the level of occupancy being considered will exacerbate an already existing environmental problem. My evidence is in the County’s own documents like the Carmel Highlands Wastewater Management Plan (http://www.co.monterey.ca.us/home/showdocument?id=14904 ) and the CalAm decision of record not to permit new water connections in the Highlands. These environmental impacts have to be based on the assumption of increased occupancy and infrastructure stress, or at least, temporary occupancy beyond the limit of existing infrastructure capacity. I think that the Hwy 1 / Carmel Valley Road traffic issues could also follow the same rationale.

In the Carmel Highlands, there has always been a fairly high number of non-resident property ownership. It has ranged 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. Therefore, for most of the year these properties used to sit vacant and did not have substantial impacts on the environment or local infrastructure. These 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. . .  

The County is using generally accepted HUD Fair Housing Guidelines to inform their two persons per bedroom occupancy standards for the STR ordinance. These are not firm limitations and HUD has decided on many occasions to allow/enforce higher occupancy limits to redress what they determine to be illegal discrimination. One of the few arguments that can be successfully employed to limit occupancy is the lack of basic infrastructure capacity (water, sewer, etc.).

[Editor note: In the Home Stay the owner and his family live there.  Any vacation/short-term renters will be an additional use.  Also the demographic evidence is 3 persons per home avaerage.  Renters would be in addition to that.  It should also be noted that Monterey residents were particularly good at conserving water, especially during the drought.  Tourists from other areas use significantly more water on average.]