Del Mar council approves another moratorium on new short-term rentals

With city staff needing more time to develop regulations, the Del Mar City Council voted unanimously on Oct. 17 to approve a new temporary moratorium on short-term vacation rentals.

“I don’t want anybody to think that we haven’t been working hard on trying to reach a resolution, and I hope that we can reach one in the near future,” Councilman Don Mosier said.

The council initially placed a 45-day temporary moratorium on short-term vacation rentals in April and later extended the moratorium for six months, enabling city staff to collect data, conduct further research, and craft land use and operational regulations for short-term rentals, while maintaining the status quo.

Like the previously adopted moratorium, which is set to expire on Nov. 18, the new moratorium allows current short-term rentals to stay in operation, but new rentals can not open.

Short-term rentals are not specifically permitted or prohibited in the city. Still, the practice has been going on for decades in Del Mar.

Council members could not make a decision on how to regulate short-term rentals after another long discussion on the subject at the Sept. 19 meeting. Instead, they directed staff to find a consultant to help gather data on who is renting their homes, under what conditions, the frequency and the number of complaints.

As a subcommittee, Deputy Mayor Terry Sinnott and Councilman Dwight Worden have worked since the June 20 council meeting to draft a set of regulations. The pair initially presented their proposal to the full council on Aug. 1 and further discussed in September whether to allow but regulate short-term rentals or prohibit them in residential zones.

“We’ve been working very, very hard and we have been receiving good input from our legal staff and our own staff, so we’re narrowing things down to get to a point where a decision, hopefully, will come forward pretty quickly,” Sinnott said at the Oct. 17 meeting. “It’s very, very difficult, but I think we are making some good progress toward finalizing something.”

Under state law, the new moratorium is effective for 45 days. The council can later decide to extend the moratorium for an additional year and 135 days, as state law allows a total consecutive moratorium time of two years.

“I’m going to support this, but I wanted to go on record that I think we’re getting to the point where council needs to make a decision on this,” Worden said. “It’s tearing us up, it’s tearing the staff up, it’s tearing the community up.”

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