Del Mar reviews short-term rental data as council prepares local regulations

Del Mar City Hall
(Jon Clark)

The Del Mar City Council discussed short-term rental stats June 10 as the city looks to adopt a permanent set of regulations.

“It’s the first step in a multi-step project that will have many opportunities for public participation,” Del Mar Principal Planner Amanda Lee said during the meeting.

Once the council adopts new regulations, approval from the California Coastal Commission is also required.

The conversion took place as multiple cities throughout the county are evaluating their short-term rental policies. The city of San Diego recently adopted a short-term rental policy, and Solana Beach council members had a discussion about updating their policies.

Del Mar currently has a forbearance policy that allows short-term rentals only if the unit has been used as a short-term rental prior to April 2016. The city placed a moratorium on new short-term rentals that began operating after that date until the council approved a permanent policy.

Efforts to approve a local short-term rental policy have been underway for years. But according to a city staff report, Del Mar has faced “several California Coastal Commission actions, legal challenges, and enforcement considerations, as well as processing delays due to the timing of the final court decisions rendered during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to data that the city collected through a consultant, there are 116 short-term rentals within the city of Del Mar, equal to about 4.51% of the city’s total dwelling units. Many more short-term rentals on sites such as Airbnb and Vrbo advertise Del Mar as their location even though they are not within city limits.

The city’s data also shows that the average length of stay is 3.7 days in Del Mar, and that the average rate is $630 per night. It also showed that 69% of those 116 short-term rentals are investment properties where the owner does not live on site.

The data is based on an evaluation of short-term rental activity from Jan. 1 to April 30, 2023.

Concerns about short-term rentals include housing units essentially being taken off the market when owners use them exclusively for short-term visitors. Hotel owners have also lobbied local governments to make sure that short-term rental owners are paying an equitable amount of transient occupancy tax.

Kimberly Jackson, who has operated a short-term rental business for about 13 years, said during public comment that Del Mar should “not try to reinvent the wheel.”

“The cities of San Diego, Solana Beach, Encinitas, Carlsbad and Oceanside all have gone through Coastal and all their rules have been approved,” Jackson said.