Monterey County Vacation Rental Alliance
Short-term rentals (STRs) are hotly debated by opponents and proponents. Sometimes exaggerated statements and even falsehoods are made. This page provides the facts.
- Claim: Existing law prohibits STRs in the coastal regions of Monterey County. The County is not enforcing existing law.
- Fact: This is subject to challenge. The County has decades of behavior counter to this claim and in fact has condoned STRs. The County tax collector has known for decades where many STRs are located as it happily collected TOT. Yet the County made no attempt to prosecute these owners. Furthermore, the County settled an STR legal case in 1992 under a settlement agreement that allowed STRs to continue. In fact the County has demonstrated that its intent is to permit STRs. Regulation was passed in 1997 permitting STRs and again in 2014 regulation was proposed that would permit STRs.
However, Monterey County now "interprets" current code to prohibit STRs in the coastal zone. Unfortunately in 2016 the court ruled in favor of the County's interpretation in the Lewis vs. Monterey County case. Nevertheless, the Coastal Commission has written Monterey County stating that the Commission believes STRs are allowed in the coastal zone. This difference in opinion may only get resolved when a new STR ordinance is enacted.
- Claim: STRs are a “commercial” use hence not permitted in a residential area.
- Fact: Monterey County already treats STRs as a residential use. The County's inland STR ordinance enacted in 1997 permits STRs in residentially zoned areas. Similarly, Pacific Grove, Santa Cruz County, and San Luis Obispo County treat STRs as “residential” under their ordinances permitting vacation rentals in residential neighborhoods. Furthermore in February 2015, the California Coastal Commission (CCC) amended the Land Use Plan for Trinidad CA. The CCC stated, “The amendment addresses occupancy of residences by tourists for dwelling, lodging or sleeping purposes, which by definition, comprises residential use." Click for CCC letter. Courts have also ruled that short-term rentals are not commercial use: short-term renters are “residents”—they eat, sleep, bathe and watch television within the dwelling .
Claim: STRs cause increased traffic.
- Fact: STRs reduce traffic. First, STRs sit vacant at times with no traffic at all. Second, vacation renters arrive with multiple people per vehicle. The same home could be rented on a long-term basis in which case there would likely be one car per adult.
Claim: STRs increase water use.
- Fact: STRs reduce water use because vacation rentals sit vacant at times.
Claim: STRs have a devastating effect on public access to the coast.
Fact: STRs actually provide the public with a means of access to the coast. Former County Supervisor and former member of the California Coastal Commission Lou Calcagno was very clear on this. He said, “There are hundreds of second homes along the California coast sitting vacant over 300 days per year. All we need to do is let these owners rent their home to offer greater public access to the coast."
Claim: STRs impact affordable employee housing.
STRs do not impact affordable employee housing. Most STRs are owner occupied or second homes. The owners want to use their home for their own enjoyment. They will not offer their home as a long-term rental. If they were ever forced to, it would not be “affordable” housing. STRs are generally some of the best houses on the street as required to meet guest expectations. These will never be “affordable.” And coastal properties are selling for millions. Future owners will never offer “affordable” housing.
Concern: Properties will be bought in order to become small hotels.
- Fact: STRs have operated for decades in the County yet properties have NOT been bought to become small hotels. A smart investor will not purchase a dwelling for the sole purpose of running it as an STR. The numbers simply do not work! Homes are purchased for the owner's personal use and then rented on a short-term basis to generate supplemental income to partially cover costs.
Concern: More homes will accommodate large events.
- Response: The County of Monterey intends to develop an ordinance to specifically regulate special events. Once that ordinance is in place, no home can stage an event without a special event permit. MCVRA strongly supports this regulation.