Check Out Time

Creating and approving a short-term rental ordinance for unincorporated Monterey County is like the brass ring on the merry-go-round that no one seems to be able to grasp. Over about seven years, county planners have reached out to grab it, but it’s always just out of reach. The latest unsuccessful go around began in June, when the Monterey County Planning Commission took a look at the latest proposed ordinance and decided it still falls short of effectively regulating what are now called vacation rentals.

“They’ve been working on this ordinance since 2013 and instead of getting better, it gets worse,” says Pris Walton, president of the Carmel Valley Association. In CVA’s eyes, vacation rentals will continue to negatively impact residential neighborhoods without a tighter cap on the number of units. Walton says the ordinance itself is poorly written, which will make it difficult to enforce. Yet another issue: the ordinance considers residential and visitor uses equivalent.

“All short-term rentals impact the character of the neighborhoods, and that needs to be reflected,” Planning Commissioner Martha Diehl said during a meeting on June 10. Diehl argued visitors want different activities than residents, and that vacation rentals pull long-term rentals off the market.

Diehl was also critical of the county for not enforcing current rules it, including shutting down illegal rentals. It’s been a major frustration to residents, who say even through shelter-in-place, people show up every weekend and host large parties that bring noise and vehicles that block private roadways.

Unable to support the ordinance but unwilling to send it back to the drawing board, Diehl proposed moving it to the Monterey County Board of Supervisors with a letter suggesting improvements and issues to study in a future environmental review. A subcommittee comprising Diehl and commissioners Kate Daniels, Rich Coffelt and Amy Roberts was formed to write the letter. The Planning Commission is scheduled to review a draft of that letter at a July 8 meeting.

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