July 20, 2024

Oceanside proposes limiting short-term rentals to owner-occupied properties

Oceanside approved a moratorium Wednesday on new short-term rentals outside the coastal zone and went a step further, asking city staffers to look at ways to stop non-hosted STRs in most residential zones, including neighborhoods near the beach.

Oceanside City Council members said they want to protect homeowners who live on their property and rent rooms to make ends meet, while stopping the few corporate owners with properties that bring a majority of the problems such as “party houses.”

“My desire would be to … ban new non-hosted STRs in all residential zones of the city except the (residential-tourist) zones,” said Councilmember Peter Weiss.

The proposal to prohibit new short-term rentals outside the coastal zone, which is generally neighborhoods west of Coast Highway, failed to get the support of the city’s Planning Commission in November. Several commissioners said the move did not go far enough, because most of the trouble is in beach neighborhoods.

Residents have complained that short-term rentals often bring noise, parking, littering and other problems, and that the city’s enforcement is poor. They say it’s worse at rentals where the owner is not there to moderate activities.

In some cases, houses built with two or three bedrooms have been modified by adding as many as eight or 10 bedrooms to host large numbers of guests with no increase in parking or other accommodations.

Short-term rentals also drive up rents and reduce the housing available for long-term residents, studies show.

“We’re losing housing at the coast,” said Marco Gonzalez, an attorney and Oceanside native, at Wednesday’s meeting.

“A lot of these are seasoned, experienced owners who are directly flouting the rules,” Gonzalez said. “We don’t need to kowtow to the relatively small number of owners who have been flouting the rules for years.”

A common complaint is that a single investor can buy multiple houses and use them as vacation rentals without living on the property and with little supervision.

“Responsible STRs are important for our city in the right location,” Councilmember Ryan Keim said Thursday after the decision. “It’s all about how you manage them … that’s the challenge, to allow owners to operate in a responsible manner and support them, while addressing the bad actors.”

Oceanside adopted its short-term rentals ordinance in 2019. It requires a permit for the rental of rooms or dwellings for less than 30 consecutive days. It also requires annual inspections, sets occupancy limits and requires the owners to collect the transient occupancy tax or TOT, also known as the hotel room tax, paid by guests and passed on to the city.

To date, there are 1,002 registered STRs in the city, of which 719 are in the coastal zone. Oceanside has more STRs than hotel rooms, so they are a significant source of revenue for the city.

TOT revenue was more than $11 million is the city’s 2022-23 budget, or 7.86 percent of the anticipated total of $140 million in general fund revenue. About $8 million of that was from short-term rentals.

The moratorium approved Wednesday on new STRs outside the coastal zone will be effective in 30 days.

Any changes within the coastal zone will require an amendment of the city’s Local Coastal Program, with approvals from the council and the California Coastal Commission. That could happen no earlier than next spring.

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