Pacific Grove City Council Weighs in on Short Term Rentals

By Carly Mayberry, Monterey Herald

POSTED: 12/17/15, 5:36 PM PST 

Monterey >> After 4½ hours of public comment and debate about if and how short-term rentals should exist in Pacific Grove, the City Council voted 4-3 to continue to allow them.

That decision was just the first followed by a series of amendments discussed to determine future standards and restrictions on the complex topic.

Among the changes to be instituted are:

• Safety and health inspections will be required of short-term rental applicants.

• Neighbors within 300 feet be notified about a short-term rental.

• A cap of 260 short-term rental units in the city was agreed upon. There are currently more than 180 registered units in town.

“What we asked was that city staff look at how to really ensure that we don’t have too high density in a small cluster,” said Mayor Bill Kampe.

Council members also agreed upon instituting a hotline, which would give any resident a place to call if they have a complaint about a short-term rental. A guidebook to include ordinances and helpful hints will also be created with the intent to help operators understand the laws and how to operate their business. All existing license holders of short-term rentals will be grandfathered in under the current restrictions for 18 months.

All changes were based on the agenda report, prepared by City Manager Thomas Frutchey, which resulted from the recommendations of the city’s citizen task force that formed six weeks ago.

Councilman Daniel Miller said he didn’t think the task force was needed in the first place.

“We don’t want to have these businesses checked and want to require you to live up to building codes,” said Miller. “It is a zoning question. It needs to be at the Planning Commission. I never wanted this task force because I think it’s going to slow the whole process down.”

To that Councilwoman Casey Lucius stressed the council had an important responsibility to make a decision on the issue immediately.

“We went through zoning discussion, we voted as a council that we would continue with (short-term rentals) so I hope we move forward and if we do nothing else, we can start these,” said Lucius.

Tuesday night marked the 15th time the subject had come before the City Council, yet the dialogue from council members and the public still seemed fervent.

“The task force doesn’t safeguard the quality of life of residential areas,” said resident Regina Doyle. “… Instead of seeking (transient occupancy taxes), please ask residents if (short-term rentals) are in our best interest.”

Pacific Grove resident Evin Ollinger had a different view.

“Our hometown was founded by vacation renters and here we are so many years later still discussing this,” said Ollinger. “Please manage and inspect absentee owners, but less regulations please. Short-term rentals bring in nearly $1 million in revenue to the city’s general fund. The impact of $1 million is big.”

Resident Chip Bates noted that small and large communities along the coast from Portland and San Diego are grappling with the same problem.

“There are several issues that remain unanswered and potentially very divisive, particularly the number and density,” said Bates. “All over the country it’s a disputable issue but don’t drive (short-term rentals) underground. We have to find a balance.”

See the original article here.

Carly Mayberry can be reached at 831-726-4363.