Marina - Sept. 2019.

Marina is becoming the next city to legalize and regulate short-term rentals.

Marina is becoming the next city to legalize and regulate short-term rentals. Marina City Council voted 4-1 on Oct. 11 to approve an ordinance permitting short-term rentals in the city, with some changes to an earlier version of the ordinance first approved in September. (Councilmember Frank O’Connell cast the lone opposing vote.)

A short-term rental is defined as any primary residence that is rented, in whole or in part, for less than 29 consecutive days. Marina’s rules establish a permitting process for short-term rental owners, which would require them to renew annually. The rentals will also pay Marina's 14-percent transient-occupancy tax.

After revisions, the version approved this week includes three additional items. One is a cap on the number of guests who can occupy a single listing, contingent on the number of rooms in that listing. For instance, a studio apartment could rent to a maximum of two guests, while a three-bedroom house could rent to eight. The maximum number of guests is limited to 12.

Short-term rentals will also required to include a “Good Neighbor brochure,” the contents of which remain to be determined. The rental property must also be the primary residence of the owner, meaning homes will not become primarily short-term rentals, which has generated controversy in nearby communities and part of the motivation for Pacific Grove residents to pass a ballot initiative in 2018 banning most short-term rentals there. Under this rule, in-law units or accessory dwellings that are adjacent to primary residences can be rented out as short-term vacation homes.  

Public comment was limited. Sean McDonald, a short-term rental owner, voiced concern that people who are on a rental agreement themselves aren’t allowed to host short-term renters, even if they have landlord permission.

Even before they became legal, short-term rentals are listed in Marina on services like Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO. According to a report provided to the City Council by Host Compliance LLC on Oct. 1, Marina has 71 listings on Airbnb, 17 on HomeAway, and three on other platforms. The number of listings has increased by 18 percent in the last year, reflecting a growing market for short-term rentals in the area.

Among other concerns, Councilmember Adam Urrutia proposed limiting the total number of permits allowed in the city. Currently, there is no limit on permits.

While there were some disagreements on finer points of the ordinance, the council was ready to move forward on this second hearing, and approved the ordinance, with the intention to revisit and change the regulations as necessary a year from now.

“I think it will sort out,” Councilmember Gail Morton says. “I’m looking forward to the year to see how it turns out.”

Before the changes take effect, a second reading at council will take place.

Editor's note: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this story stated in-law units cannot be rented out. The story has been updated to reflect that they can be rented out under Marina's new ordinance. It has also been edited to clarify that the transient-occupancy tax of 14 percent applies to all hotels. 

UCSC Science Communications student MCW Intern

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