Del Mar looks to persuade as many STR operators as possible to sign up for the city’s registry
Del Mar is moving forward with a short-term rental registry after council members expressed concerns last week about whether residents would participate.
“I think part of the concern is giving too much private information,” Del Mar Mayor Tracy Martinez said in an interview. “I think most people would be pretty leery about showing their taxes, that’s pretty personal. So anything that could prove they were existing is really important. We need that data to understand what’s going on in our town.”
City officials also emphasized that the registry would help craft the terms of a citywide STR ordinance, as opposed to being used as an enforcement tool. But bringing STR operators into compliance hasn’t always been easy. Even in neighboring cities that already have STR ordinances, unpermitted rentals continue to account for most of the violations that code compliance officials respond to.
Council members said they would use their email lists and other channels of communication to convince as many STR operators as possible to participate.
The effort to adopt a short-term rental ordinance in Del Mar started several years ago and has been delayed due to issues including legal challenges and disputes with the California Coastal Commission. Following a hiatus caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, council members have been discussing short-term rentals again.
The city’s current short-term rental law is a “forbearance” policy that allows properties to operate as STRs if they can prove they were in operation before April 2016.
At the last council meeting on Sept. 5, city officials discussed the possibility of enlisting a third-party to collect data from residents who currently operate short-term rentals, hoping that they would be more willing to join the registry if they didn’t have to give their personal information directly to City Hall.
The city also wants regulations that protect the housing stock. Sites such as Airbnb and Vrbo have made it easier for property owners to rent their units on a full-time basis, essentially removing housing units from the market as the state continues to deal with a housing crisis.
“You can change community character,” Martinez said. “It can be imposing on your lifestyle in your own home. So pretty clear and strict regulations are going to be important. And we need to not only have the regulations, but we need a very clear mechanism for people to voice their concerns if the regulations are being violated.”
The City Council will discuss the parameters of the short-term rental ordinance during an Oct. 2 meeting. Martinez mentioned a possible cap on the percentage of housing units within Del Mar that can be used for short-term rentals. The Encinitas City Council adopted a similar policy last year.
Some of the provisions could include specifications for STR activity based on certain zones within the city, special regulations for STRs that are hosted (meaning the owner also resides in the property while renting), the permitting process, and charging transient occupancy tax.
“There are a lot of components to regulation we need to consider, and I want to listen to the residents about what’s important to them,” Martinez said.
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