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The majority of short-term rentals in Del Mar has operated underground without regulation. File photo
The majority of short-term rentals in Del Mar has operated underground without regulation. File photo
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Del Mar opens local short-term rental registry

DEL MAR — Del Mar officials are urging all local short-term rental owners to register their properties in a new online registry that opened last week to help inform future regulation discussions.  

Operators who register are required to provide their name and contact information, the address of the short-term rental, and some form of documentation showing that the rental has been operating in the last 10 years. They are encouraged to register by Dec. 5. 

City officials said they are aware many rentals are operating legally and assured residents that the information they share will not be used for code enforcement. In discussions earlier this month, City Manager Ashley Jones said the goal is to get an accurate idea of how many short-term rentals are operating in the city before adopting new regulations. 

“This is not for any exercise of collecting data for enforcement, this is for collecting data for understanding what rentals are out there,” Jones said on Sept. 5. “If we don’t know what’s out there and we don’t know what we’re trying to accommodate, the City Council could inadvertently set a cap when there are more than we know about.”

The majority of the short-term rental (STR) industry in Del Mar has operated underground without regulation. This has cost the city thousands of dollars in potential transient occupancy tax revenue and made it difficult to respond to nuisance complaints. 

Del Mar’s STR rules have been in a chaotic state of limbo for several years, with all new STRs currently banned besides those that were operating as of an April 2016 moratorium, a system many residents say is illegal and unenforceable.

Following the moratorium, the city adopted a controversial ordinance in 2017 allowing unlimited operations of short-term rentals in commercial zones while requiring those in nearly all residential zones to operate a minimum of seven days at a time and no more than 28 days per year.

This ordinance was rejected by the California Coastal Commission for being too restrictive and never went into effect. Since then, short-term rental activities have been under an enforcement forbearance similar to the original moratorium, which was extended until 2025 earlier this year.

As of this year, less than 40 vacation rentals are registered legally with the city. An analysis of Airbnb, Vrbo and other platforms earlier this year found around 100 other STRs advertised within Del Mar limits, but officials say this does not capture all the rentals operating in the city. 

Several residents said the registry is asking operators of illegal STRs to take a big leap of faith and suggested an incentive like promising to grandfather in all rentals that register.

“To get people to register, what’s the carrot? Tell people you’ll grandfather them in,” said Gina Mattern, a local STR operator. 

Council members said they are not ready to make that promise at this point. However, staff emphasized again that there would be no repercussions for sharing this information and still encouraged people to register.

The next City Council discussion about STRs is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 2. City officials said this would be the time to look at the examples of other cities’ ordinances and discuss the direction of a potential policy. 

The online portal is available on the City of Del Mar website at

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