Open and Shut

A broken water supply line in January chased Erin Borges, a local entrepreneur, and her family out of their Monterey home. With her husband Shawn, a Monterey chiropractor, and their 8-year-old daughter Dahlia and two dogs, the family settled into new digs at the Embassy Suites in Seaside courtesy of their insurance company while the home is being repaired. That bad luck came just a few months after Borges was diagnosed with a rare tumor that has left her legally blind in her left eye and undergoing treatment.

Then the weekend of June 8-9, they were chased out of their temporary hotel home after the insurance company balked at paying the $1,000-a-night bill at Embassy, up from $395.

The company gave the family three pet-friendly hotel choices in Salinas, Gilroy and Soquel. Borges says the Salinas option was filthy and the others are too far of a commute. With few options – the insurance company won’t cover short-term rentals – the Borgeses have asked the company if it will cover the cost of an RV.

“There’s nothing available,” Erin says. “Even if we could afford it, it’s simply a space thing.”

As of June 11, on the eve of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, available rooms online ranged from $243 per night in Pacific Grove to more than $3,000 in Carmel Highlands. Two vacation rental companies show a few homes left at prices of up to $2,000 a night.

Officials in Carmel and Pacific Grove, where those rentals are limited, and in Monterey, where they are banned, are on alert. Elizabeth Caraker, Monterey’s housing and community development manager, saw an uptick in advertising of illegal rentals. P.G. City Manager Ben Harvey says two staff members spend about a third of their time scanning rental platforms and policing illegal rentals, as well as following up on complaints about legal ones.

“Our challenge is the landscape shifts all the time, and once they get found out, they move to a different platform or build a new one,” Harvey says. “Undoubtedly, despite our best efforts there might be some things we don’t catch.”

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Pam Marino joined the Monterey County Weekly in November 2016. She covers the communities of Carmel, Pacific Grove, Del Rey Oaks, Pebble Beach and North County. She also covers tourism, health, housing and homelessness, business and agriculture.

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