THE LONG AND THE SHORT OF IT… This is a strange, topsy turvy world of politics we live in, and no, Squid is not talking about Washington. We have it right here, as evidenced by recent weird machinations around short-term rentals.
Squid starts with Carmel, where on Dec. 3, after about a year of gnashing their teeth, theCarmel City Council passed an ordinance limiting short-term rentals in downtown. Two of five councilmembers recused themselves due to conflicts, leaving just three: Jeff Baron, Bobby Richards and Mayor Dave Potter. None of them actually liked the ordinance – they’d rather ban short-term rentals outright – but said they were compelled to pass something, anything to slow down the number of permits being issued. The ordinance allows for short-term rentals if they’re accompanied by three long-term rental units: one each of low-income, moderate-income and market rate.
The controversy was about when (and whether) to set an expiration date 30 years out for the 39 existing permits, or to let them stay grandfathered in, in perpetuity. Richards was adamant that the city had a “moral obligation” to stand by the original permits with no expiration dates. Squid’s not sure which moral code guarantees forever, but they voted 3-0 for forever.
One member of the public who spoke up during the meeting was Joy Colangelo, who lives in Pacific Grove and is a staunch advocate for short-term rental owners. Colangelo was pushing for perpetuity, and she also invited the Carmel council to come watch a trial that was scheduled to start on Dec. 16 in Monterey County Superior Court, pitting short-term landlords against the city of P.G. for allegedly violating their rights with limits on the rentals. The plaintiffs are represented by the Goldwater Institute, a libertarian think tank based in Phoenix. Colangelo touted their attorney, Goldwater executive VP Christina Sandefur: “She’s a wizard!” Coangelo gushed.
Alas, the trial was not to be. The next day, Judge Lydia Villarreal signed an order cancelling it. “All claims have been resolved,” the court record reads.
But maybe it’s not so simple: Squid thinks Goldwater has been angling for an appellate-level decision all along, looking for a case of small government bullying private property owners into… well, following the law. P.G. City Attorney David Laredo notes that Goldwater has sometimes even argued in the city’s favor on technicalities, as if they’re desperate to lose. There’s no trial, but Laredo says Goldwater is still appealing anyway. Love or hate government, there are rules about this stuff, including paying filing fees, and Laredo adds that Goldwater forgot to pay the appeal fee.
Maybe Goldwater needs the money. Squid tried calling Sandefur, but only got as far as an automated message that tells Squid where the institute’s priorities are: “Dial 1 to be connected to our donor relations team.”