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Encinitas to cap number of short-term vacation rental permits

The downtown Encinitas sign.
(Charlie Neuman / San Diego Union-Tribune/Zuma Pre)

Council approves 4 percent pay raise for city manager

Encinitas will cap the number of permits it will issue to short-term vacation rental properties, but the new cap will be high enough that there’s still room for more of them to open in town, the City Council decided Wednesday, Nov. 9.

Under the new regulations, which will require state Coastal Commission approval, there will be both a citywide limit on the number of permits issued and a special, less-strict limit that applies to the popular rental areas west of Interstate 5. Both standards are percentage-based, meaning the number of permits can increase as the number of homes in Encinitas increases.

The citywide cap will be set at 2.5 percent of the city’s total housing units, while the coastal cap will be 4 percent. Using the new standard and the current total number of homes in Encinitas, the number of permits that could be issued citywide would be 665, or 326 more than the current figure, city records indicate. For the coastal region, the total number would be 386, or 109 more than what currently exists.

Permits issued for the city’s gated Seabluffe community, which was designed with vacation rentals in mind, won’t be counted as part of the coastal permit cap. Also, the new permit limits will apply to whole-house rentals — places where the owner doesn’t live on the property, stressed Councilmember Joy Lyndes, who along with Councilmember Tony Kranz, served on a committee that helped draft the new standards.

“Actually, we’re not capping all short-term rentals, these are just the non-hosted (ones),” she said, noting that the non-owner occupied properties are the ones that the city hears complaints about from neighbors.

Mayor Catherine Blakespear said she supported placing limits on the number of short-term rentals — places that are rented for less than a month and typically a week or less — because the city has a shortage of long-term rental properties, particularly affordable units.

“To me, the caps are really critical” for helping the city with its housing issue, she said.

The council’s vote was 4-0, with Councilwoman Kellie Hinze recusing herself because her family operates a vacation rental.

Before the vote, the council heard from 18 public speakers, many of them owners or managers of short-term vacation rentals who opposed the cap and an accompanying requirement that any new short-term vacation rentals be at least 200 feet from any existing short-term rentals.

Several vacation rental operators said they felt the city was trying to drive them out of business. They noted that this is the second set of new regulations the council has enacted in the past year. The previous one set new standards for non-owner occupied units, including minimum night stay requirements.

Vacation rental company owner Kimberly Jackson said the city should focus on getting rid of a few “bad apples” in the vacation rental business, rather than making conditions difficult for all the business owners.

“When you make things so restrictive like this, people go underground,” she said, mentioning that Del Mar has a problem with illegal vacation rental units.

For information on the new ordinance, the history of vacation rental regulations and a mapping program that shows locations of vacation rentals in Encinitas, visit: https://encinitasca.gov/Government/Departments/Development-Services/Planning-Division/Regulatory-Permits/Short-term-Rentals

In other action Wednesday, Nov. 9, the council unanimously approved a 4-percent pay raise for City Manager Pamela Antil. With the raise, her annual base salary will become $265,200.

“I think you do an excellent job,” the mayor told Antil, and Councilman Joe Mosca said he echoed that comment.


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