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The Encinitas City Council has adopted several changes to short-term rentals, such as increases to application and renewal fees. Courtesy photo
The Encinitas City Council has adopted several changes to short-term rentals, such as increases to application and renewal fees. Courtesy photo
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Encinitas City Council adopts new regulations for short-term rentals

ENCINITAS — After receiving local feedback over the course of two public hearings, the Encinitas City Council on Nov. 17 approved new regulations for short-term rentals in the city.

The updated regulations include significant increases to application and annual renewal fees for short-term rental owners and a minimum three-night stay requirement for rentals without a host at the property.

According to the city, the changes were implemented to curb nuisances reported by neighbors and commonly associated with short-term rental units. Opponents of the proposed changes pointed to just 23 filed complaints against short-term rentals over the past decade in Encinitas but the city said those official complaints do not capture the full scope of the problem citywide.

“I think from my perspective it’s really important to remember that in order to create a complaint, you have to be really aggravated,” Mayor Catherine Blakespear said. “So I think there are a lot of consequences that people are tolerating. I think there is more of an impact than just the number of complaints.”

Short-term rentals are furnished apartments or homes rented on a short-term basis similar to hotels, normally as vacation rentals, and are commonly booked through online lodging markets, such as Airbnb and Vrbo.

Originally, the city proposed a minimum-night stay requirement for all short-term rentals in the city to cut down on loud parties or other disturbances but instead opted to allow rentals with on-site hosts, who would theoretically be able to handle such issues themselves, to operate without a minimum requirement.

But under the new guidelines, hosted rentals will now have a minimum stay requirement of three nights.

“I recognize that the number of operators that have short-term rentals that are causing problems is very limited, but in the end, I think it’s really important that we have better tools for addressing these nuisances,” Deputy Mayor Tony Kranz said. “It doesn’t even have to be rowdy, it can just be some cigar smoking friends out in the backyard that maybe have been drinking a bit whose voices are elevated can become a nuisance.”

The council also removed a prohibition on self-check-in for non-hosted units from the new regulations after receiving public feedback.

“I really support this kind of incremental approach,” Councilmember Joe Mosca said. “Let’s try some things and see if they work and come back to it.”

Still, some operators questioned why the council was making changes that could hurt short-term rental owners following the rules before addressing the rental owners with complaints against them.

“Don’t penalize the good guys,” said Kimberly Jackson, a resident and short-term rental operator. “All of us have paid our taxes, all of us have been law-abiding citizens, why are we being penalized? Let’s focus on enforcing the rules that are already in place.”

The cost of receiving and renewing a permit to operate a short-term rental unit will also increase to help alleviate the city’s costs. Since 2006, the cost for a permit was $150 annually and has remained unchanged until now. The new cost, which the city says will recover 80% of its costs, will be $425.

“The proposed fee I think is a reasonable amount. We’re not trying for 100% cost recovery,” Kranz said. “I recognize that it’s one or two nights of a renter that’s not going to be paid towards a fee and that, I think, is part of doing business and I don’t think it’s all that unreasonable.”

2 comments

Antony November 23, 2021 at 10:59 am

Rather than doing things that actually tackle the problems citizens have, Council is scape-goating short-term rentals. While there were hundreds to thousands of complaints from residents on their long-term neighbors’ parties, noise, parking and trash, Council is focusing on the 23 complaints in the last 10 years blamed on visitors to short-term rentals.

Rather than instituting an effective program to promptly address those everyday annoyances, they are imposing a bureaucratic, inefficient, time-wasting, paperwork-heavy process that will waste staff time to repeat every year the entire permit application process for which there are no changes other than the date. It would be like the DMV requiring a new driving test every time you renew your license.

This provides no benefits to ordinary citizens, but increases expenses for the businesses who are contributing many hundreds of thousands of tax dollars every year, of which 20% pays for preserving our beaches.

If you’re being kept awake by a party down the street, or a barking dog, you shouldn’t have to determine if the offender is a vacation renter and find one of many pieces of paper sent you months or years before that goes to that house in order to complain to the owner or management company. There should be one number or website that allows anyone to quickly submit a complaint that will immediately dispatch someone from the City to deal with it. Instead of every rental owner having to send a notice to all his neighbors within 300 feet, the City should send a postcard to every household with a single number and website to submit any complaint you have about your neighbors. Simple, easier, less expensive, effective and responsive.

The tax money the City will lose by eliminating the 1 and 2 day rentals from innocent hosts who have never had a complaint would more than pay for an effective enforcement program.

You shouldn’t have to determine what kind of house is causing the nuisance and where it is. Instead of wasting time and money on busywork, the City should be improving your and your neighbors’ quality of life.

Council shouldn’t be trying to score political points by blame-shifting. They should earn re-election by solving real problems.

steve333 November 22, 2021 at 3:21 pm

Short term rentals should be only allowed in owner occupied homes, IMO
You want a hotel, go buy a hotel. These STR’s are disruptive to neighbors and keep homes off the market that should go to people who actually want to live in it as a home.

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