As the deadline for the application for Short Term Rental (STR) permits rapidly approaches, Pismo Beach city officials urge property owners to apply or risk facing harsh fines.
The city will issue STR permits on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018. City Manager Jim Lewis said that there is no ‘grace period’ for owners to comply with the new regulations.
“If we find that you are advertising for a vacation rental for your home or an investment home after November 1,” Lewis said at the Oct. 16 council meeting, “you will be fined.”
The fines are sharp with the first infraction costing parties $750 and each occurrence thereafter costing $1,000. Lewis said that the rules were purposely given “teeth” so owners would not simply treat the infractions as a “cost of doing business.”
Lewis addressed the need to dispel resident’s concerns that the city was “soft” on vacation rentals. “This is real, meaningful regulation,” he said, “with the goal of protecting our housing stock and our neighborhoods while also balancing the need for someone who needs to rent a room to maintain their primary home.”
To balance the rights of residents and tourists, the city created an STR ordinance that dictated who could rent their property for less than 30 days. STRs, also known as homestays or vacation rentals, come with a host of potential headaches for locals such as noise, trash and lack of parking.
The city feared Pismo’s limited housing supply could be absorbed by investors who purchased property for the sole purpose of converting it into basically an unstaffed bed and breakfast. Through the development of public input, the city devised costs and guidelines for STRs. One such rule dictates that the properties are listed as the primary residence of the owners. Primary residences, as defined by the city, are owners living on the property for more than half the year. The California Coastal Commission (CCC), the state’s coastal regulatory committee, approved the guidelines and hailed it as a model for coastal California. The CCC’s mission is to protect land use and coastal access for all Californian and not just those that live on the coast.
During the council meeting, Lewis stated that only four applicants have met the ordinance’s initial criteria and have inspections scheduled. He said that there are six still in the application review process. The majority of applications were rejected due to failing to meet the regulations set by the council. Initial city estimates approximated 125 STRs operating within the affected zones.
“Eighty percent of the parties that contacted us that were interested in operating have not met the requirements,” Lewis told the council. “as far as a primary residence and parking in particular, so I think some of the goals you tried to meet in creating this regulation are working.”
Lewis stressed several times during his report the need for people to apply and to “get the word out” of the approaching deadline.
By Mark A. Diaz