Ann Gardner | Via Latina
City Council, provided with 300 pages of background material for their March 20 meeting, agreed to set a de novo public hearing to determine whether or not short term rentals are an allowed use in the Del Mar Municipal Code. A de novo hearing generally means a new hearing or a second chance for the appealing parties to present their case. City Manager Scott Huth said the hearing would be on April 17.
The issue has been a priority since 2015 when the Council, after receiving complaints about the increase in short term rentals in residential neighborhoods, unanimously supported a moratorium on all new STRs, allowing existing vacation rentals to continue operation. The moratorium has been extended twice in an attempt to clarify the issue. In January the Council approved a request by staff to ask the Planning Commission to interpret whether or not the Code allowed STRs because of conflicting viewpoints over its interpretation.
Two groups appealed the February 14 Planning Commission determination (3-2) that “since Short Term Rentals (STRs) are not in the Code they could not conclude whether STRs are allowed or not under the existing code.” The groups respectively were 20 residents, represented by Ralph DeMarco, and Save Our Neighborhood Del Mar, represented by Robin Crabtree. Both appeals were essentially based on “findings not supported.” Each group was given three minutes to present their case for a de novo public hearing by Council. A light note was reached when Betty Wheeler asked the Council to refund the $500 filing fee to each appellant because the issue was a community, not an individual, issue.