Countywide poll suggests more than two-thirds of residents favor allowing short-term rentals.

MCVRC president Susan Bradley has been working for a short-term rental ordinance since late 2013. 

At the May public meetings in Big Sur and Carmel Highlands on the subject of short-term rentals, a middle ground was nowhere to be found: attendees either favored STR's with a cheap an easy registration process, or were vociferously against them, saying they would destroy neighborhoods. 

A recent countywide poll by an outside consulting group suggests opposition to STR's is far less widespread than those meetings might lead one to believe: 68 percent of those polled were in favor of legal, regulated STR's while 23 percent were against them. Nine percent of residents polled said they were unsure. 

The poll was conducted by Littlefield Consulting, a firm hired by the Monterey County Vacation Rental Coalition. MCVRC President Susan Bradley sent the results to the Weekly on Sept. 19.

The poll's sample size varied widely from the first question to the tenth and final question (866 and 446 voters, respectively), and also skewed female (63 percent) and older (60 percent of respondents were over 65 years old).

Still, the insights are instructive: 42 percent of those polled indicated that the County Board of Supervisors were on the wrong track, with 33 percent on the right track. 22 percent were unsure. 

Most of the questions were strictly on the subject of short-term rentals, and for the most part, were straightforward. However, the poll did lead into the line of questioning with a very strategically placed nugget of information.

"Traditional short-term rentals are furnished homes that are rented for a few days up to 30 days to visitors to Monterey County. Short-term rentals provide more than $150 million dollars in economic impact to Monterey County. Do you think short-term rentals and the visitors they serve are important to Monterey County’s economy?" 

73 percent said yes, 19 percent no and 8 percent unsure.

Surprisingly, given the 68 percent support rate in the poll, only 24 percent of those polled had ever rented our their home for less than 30 days or knew someone else who had. 

The county's current draft STR ordinance released in March has been much-maligned by STR supporters. Primary among the complaints is limiting rental permits to one unit per 15 acres and only allowing a maximum of seven days of rental per month. 

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(9) comments

Jan Leasure

In the 1980's and 90's, the cities of Carmel by the Sea, Monterey, and Pacific Grove all voted to restrict rentals to 30 days or more. A quick Google search for vacation rentals in any of those cities (even prior to 2010, when Pacific Grove decided to permit vacation rentals) shows the complete ineffectiveness of the ban on short term rentals. The County, on the other hand, voted to permit rentals of seven days or more, yet made the process so difficult, very few rental owners actually registered. The cities got it wrong when they enacted an ordinance they couldn't enforce. The County got it wrong when they enacted an ordinance that was so expensive and complex, few signed on. The City of Pacific Grove got it right when, in 2010, they enacted an ordinance permitting rentals with an affordable and simple registration process. The County Supervisors should accept the inevitable - that when the market (traveling public) demands something (vacation rentals), someone will find a way to fill the market demand - and adopt an ordinance that makes sense for all concerned.


I am not afraid and neither am I landed gentry. I was born and raised in Big Sur and work at a local business. I am in a lot of contact with local folk that live in Big Sur and, so far, do not know a single person that was polled by this independent Company.
A friend said Rent a cabin- evict a Local.
Yes residential family homes are being used for STR's. Fear? Class warfare? Landed Gentry? Nope- we just have a right to protest the commercialization of private areas.
Yes to an Ordinance if it keeps the STR's on the Highway One corridor already commercially zoned or on publicly maintained roads.
No to an Ordinance that commercializes private areas.
No to an Ordinance that is unenforceable and therefore unfair to local businesses that have the rules enforced on them.
No to an Ordinance that ousts the working people from their homes.
No to an Ordinance that brings strangers into private areas that they do not understand. (traffic safety on narrow roads, fire safety, privacy issues etc...)
That being said it is only relevant to those that live in Big Sur. Perhaps this private company ought to poll each area separately.
Big Sur is part of the Coastal Commissions area to preserve and yes we want to share its beauty, but don’t we also have stewardship responsibilities? Over use is real and diminishes the visitor experience. Having Short Term Rentals adds to over use in a delicate area. To quote the Coastal Commission: ‘Coastal Act Section 30251 provides for the protection of the scenic and visual qualities of coastal areas... New development in highly scenic areas shall be subordinate to the character of its setting.
Additionally, Coastal Act Section 30253(5) requires that new development be protective of special coastal communities which, because of their unique characteristics, are popular destination points for visitors.’
Apologies for the long comment- hope you made it to this ending so I can thank you for listening!


Wow, the Landed Gentry in Big Sur appear to have an attitude of preciousness. The businesses have a monopoly on the millions of tourists coming from around the globe, so surely prosperity is a constant. As I understand it, they don’t want folks renting out their spare rooms to vacationers. It feels like class warfare when the only possibility for visitors needing a pillow for the night are burdened with paying several hundred dollars for 4 walls and a bible.
I think residents in the eastern portion of Monterey County should have the opportunity to experience their coast, and vacation rentals in homes could give them a chance to do so without breaking the bank.


I'm not sure what instruments Monterey County is using to assess the risk/benefits of establishing an ordinance to regulate short term rentals, but I'm happy to see that an independent survey was done. And I'm not surprised that respondents favored an ordinance. We have a number of friends who participated in Pacific Grove's process of establishing an STR ordinance there a few years ago. At least they began with the shared assumption that they needed one! The ordinance that was passed is relatively uncomplicated and builds in a complaint process for owners and managers that don't honor the provisions it sets forth. The vast majority of STR owners are very attached to their property and protective about who rents it. Many of them even live on the property or close by. So far, Pacific Grove has experienced an upsurge in STR based revenue with very few complaints. It would be great if, instead of assuming irreconcilable differences, we could, as a community, agree that we're all better off with an ordinance that actually regulates this significant economic engine instead of allowing it to "regulate" itself.


Shameful "journalism". This so-called poll was literally bought and paid for by the lead supporter of short term rentals. The editorial tone leaves the reader with a mislead impression of widespread support an issue the community is overwhelmingly against.

I wonder: were the writer and editor duped by the Vacation Rental Coalition, or willing parties in the peddling of propaganda?

MJ Hale

I was pleased to learn that the statistically validated results on the recent poll initiated by the Monterey Vacation Rental Alliance showed that a significant percentage of our citizens support a good vacation rental ordinance for Monterey County. I understand that there was a wide sampling of all areas of MOCO, so folks in Big Sur were contacted as well. It saddens me to hear the vitriol from Big Sur residents who are so afraid of allowing their neighbors, many of whom are simply offering their home or portions of it to visitors on a short term basis, in order to be able to keep their land, and continue to be contributing members of the Big Sur community. The Big Sur land use area covers an area of about 109 miles of coastal land, from Mal Paso in Carmel Highlands to the San Luis Obispo County line. At present there are give or take 46-53 vacation rentals in this area. There are fears that an ordinance will suddenly cause an upsurge in out of towners buying property and changing the face of Big Sur into vacation rentals. There is no evidence to support that this happens when an ordinance is put into effect. It is rather like cautioning against sex education and making prophylactics unavailable to teens because it might encourage them to suddenly all have sex. Good precautions and good regulations make things safer for everyone. On the vacation rental issue, it gives neighbors recourse should problems arise, brings needed TOT into the county which in turn will help Big Sur with many of the needs that exist (schools, library, health center, Fire Brigade) and helps long time residents keep their homes and keep the community intact.
As for the issue of long term housing for workers in Big Sur, it is indeed an issue the entire community, most especially the resorts, restaurants, and shop owners, needs to address. The need is great, but it is not the obligation nor responsibility of those 46-53 short term vacation rental property owners to solve for the community at large. It might be of interest to note that a number of the folks who offer a short term rental also offer a long term rental to the workers of Big Sur. Who ever talks about that?

Highlands Lady

I cannot understand the vacation rental fear that is coming from the Big Sur community/area...especially in regards to the "people sleeping in cars...because of the shortage of housing". If that is so, do you really think these people are going to be staying on our homes? That problem/issue has nothing to do with us. You must be smoking a little bit too much of your favorite plant to think so.

If you continue to have the elitism attitude ("no outside influence") of Mr./Ms. Hawaiian Mana and don't want to be a part of County decisions, then maybe your area should be excluded from receiving monies that our TOTs generate for the County for your "schools, health center and library". It is time to get with the times. We do not take away from or deter the sanctity of the Big Sur community with all it beauty and quaintness, but instead help to sustain the area by bringing in additional spending dollars to support and keep businesses open and well as allowing the existing owners of vacation rentals to maintain and keep their precious homes. Open you eyes and your mind to the possibilities rather than negate what true benefit can come from a community working together!!!

Bill DeBolt

I recently attended a meeting dealing with STR in Big Sur at The Grange Hall & when some govt talking head asked how many people were FOR STR, almost everybody who attended ( about 80 - 100 people ) voted overwhelmingly NO. There were like 3, maybe 5 people who wanted STR. We don't want or need outside influences ( and I mean people who do not live in Big Sur ) to determine the future of Big Sur on this ill-advised STR issue. It's ok to have it in town ( Monterey, Pacific Grove, Marina ) where there are hundreds of places to rent but in Big Sur, housing is & always has been, a major issue. People sleeping in cars, vans, motorhomes, friends house because there is such a shortage of housing. Next time you're asked to vote on this issue, remember, if there is no housing for employees, artists or just the average person, then soon business's down here will have to bus their employees to work & that means with no residents, then there is no need for a school, health center, or even a library.

Bill DeBolt

I would bet my last $1,000 that not many people who actually live in Big Sur voted yes on this issue. And I would bet another $1,000 that the people who did vote for this poll, DO NOT live in Big Sur. The last meeting we had in Big Sur & the questioned was asked by some govt suit, the people present voted overwhelmingly, a resounding NO on STR. Out of maybe 80 - 100 people present, only 4 voted to allow STR. Don't let newspaper rags, uninformed landowners ( who BTW, desperately want this issue to be a yes vote ) & outside influences from out of the state, no less, decide Big Sur's quality of life.

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