Taking Time on Short Term
Ann Gardner | Via Latina
On February 14 the Planning Commission is scheduled to determine whether or not Del Mar’s Municipal Code allows short term rentals in the city’s residential zones. The newly composed City Council referred the interpretation to the Commission last month with the expectation that the extra review would help resolve the long standing, controversial issue.
The 4 to 1 vote followed an hour of public testimony mostly in support of short term rentals with few speakers addressing the question before Council: should they direct staff to refer the question to the Planning Commission in accordance with DMMC Section 30.01.020? That provision reads “when, in the opinion of the (Planning) Director it is necessary for the City to render an administrative interpretation of…the provisions of this Title (Zoning Regulation), the Director may cause a noticed public hearing to be conducted by the Planning Commission.”
Councilman Worden said that a Planning Commission interpretation could “clarify …limited aspects of the zoning code …” and would also bring the two new Councilmembers up to speed on an issue that has stymied the Council since 2015.
Based on complaints about short term rentals disrupting neighborhoods and displacing long term housing, the Council passed a moratorium on any new short term rentals in April, 2016. The moratorium has been extended twice to allow time for research, public workshops and the writing of potential code amendments to address those complaints. However, the former Council could not agree on what direction to take and staff opined that clarification of existing Code by the Planning Commission might help break the logjam.
A public hearing for the Planning Commission to interpret the Code will be noticed soon. The Commission’s interpretation will be final unless appealed to the Council. If appealed the Council would decide whether or not to hold another hearing to either uphold the Commission’s decision or overturn.
While public input has been divided, four of the current Councilmembers, including the two newly elected members and one re-elected member, have expressed the opinion that short term rentals are incompatible with residential zoning. Mayor Sinnott restated his position in support of allowing and regulating short term rentals in residential areas and was the one dissenting vote on January 17. “A second opinion is not valuable,” he said.