North County Report: Coastal Commission Rejects Del Mar’s Short-Term Rental Rules - Voice of San Diego

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North County Report: Coastal Commission Rejects Del Mar’s Short-Term Rental Rules

Studies of Oceanside’s slow-growth initiative take a dim view, County Supervisor Bill Horn nominates a three-month resident of Poway to the City Council and more in our weekly roundup of North County news.

Del Mar / Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

Del Mar has tried for years to develop rules governing short-term vacation rentals. Late last year, officials required that visitors stay for a minimum of seven days and that residents open up their homes for no more than 28 days a year.

The California Coastal Commission, however, rejected those rules earlier this month, saying the city’s restrictions are too severe and come at the expense of beach access, the Coast News reported.

Instead, the commission recommended that residents require a three-day minimum stay of renters and open their homes for no more than 100 days annually.

Much of Del Mar lays within the coastal zone, meaning its land-use decisions are subject to approval by the Coastal Commission. One of the commission’s mandates is to promote beach access for all people, even those who don’t live in wealthy beachside communities.

Supporters of tougher restrictions in Del Mar say short-term rentals will never be able to provide the affordable accommodations that many families need and will only be a nuisance in their community.

Coastal commissioners roundly rejected that argument.

Chula Vista Councilman Steve Padilla, who’s one of the commission’s 12 voting members, said he was “deeply concerned” by the assertion that short-term rentals in Del Mar will never be affordable to outsiders, according to the Union-Tribune. Citing the state Coastal Act, which mandates beach access, he said, “I’m not aware that there is an exemption to the statute for wealthier communities.”

Oceanside’s SOAR Initiative Could Sink Farmers

Two recent reports argue that a slow-growth initiative in Oceanside would be a blight for the people it’s ostensibly intended to help — farmers.

Oceanside has about 3,300 acres of agricultural land in the northeastern corner of the city, called Morro Hills. Land currently zoned for agricultural use can be developed into 2.5-acre lots, but recently a developer proposed building nearly 1,000 homes in the area.

Although the City Council rejected the project, it spawned the Save Our Agricultural Resources initiative, commonly referred to as SOAR, which recently qualified for the November ballot. The measure targets open space, parks and agricultural land, and prevents zoning changes unless they are approved by a majority of voters.

The City Council — faced with approving the measure, studying it or sending it to the ballot — opted to have a report prepared by the Natelson Dale Group. The firm concluded that SOAR would have minor impacts on housing and job growth, and could hinder the future of farming.

The Chamber of Commerce also commissioned a report, which took a dim view of SOAR, according to the Union-Tribune.

“While the intent of the SOAR Initiative is to protect agriculture in the city of Oceanside, it actually is likely to lead to its demise,” said the Chamber of Commerce report. “The acreage now zoned for agriculture under the SOAR Initiative would neither remain actively farmed nor develop into agritourism.”

Both reports found that the initiative would reduce the value of farmers’ land, which would make it hard for them to secure bank loans that are necessary for farming.

“This situation could, in cases of marginally profitable farming operations, make it financially infeasible for farms to remain in business,” the Natelson Dale study said.

They also say that SOAR would make it difficult for farmers to cluster development on a portion of their property, like an agri-hood, if they want to bring in more revenue.

But the reports differ when it comes to the city’s push to boost agri-tourism.

Oceanside recently unveiled a plan to foster agritourism activities along two tiers. The first of which includes seasonal farm stands and wine tasting rooms. The second includes retail outlets, festival grounds and wineries.

SOAR would only allow for the first tier of activities.

The Chamber of Commerce report says that’s not enough agri-tourism activity to really help farmers adjust their business models significantly.

The Natelson Dale study says the city’s vision for agritourism hasn’t been developed enough to say one way or the other whether it will help farmers.

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