Short Term Rentals or VRBO

We have two meetings coming up as follows:

· October 14, 2013 6:30 PM Big Sur Grange
· October 23, 2013 6:30 PM Carmel Highlands Fire Station

It is not necessary to attend both meetings.

The meeting in Big Sur is a follow up to the September 19, 2013 meeting. This email seeks to accomplish two things. First is transmitting information being provided for discussion at these meetings. Second, is to set the stage for what we want to accomplish during these meetings. Attached please find:

1. Agenda (Separate Agendas for 10/14 and 10/23)
2. List of Concerns (Updated from discussion on September 19, 2013)
3. Maps showing Big Sur Land Use Plan Area (Sorry it takes three maps)
4. Title 20 sections:
a. WSC Zoning District
b. CGC Zoning District
c. B & B Provisions

Goals for the Meetings
This focuses on the Big Sur meeting since it occurs first and has some context, but the meeting in Carmel Highlands should achieve the same result. We want to start by addressing some of the items brought up in prior discussions related to the area covered by Big Sur (Briefly) The attached maps show the area, we can discuss any questions.

We want to present the process used to investigate and act on Code Enforcement complaints. This discussion hopes to clarify some of the questions raised about impediments to successful enforcement of regulations. We then will spend some time looking at the code and discuss how it is interpreted. We particularly want to look at the B&B provisions of Title 20. Attached for your review are the provisions of the WSC Zoning district which is where most of the Short Term Rentals would be located. The Coastal General Commercial District is also attached because it will relate to the special event discussions.
From there we want to go back to the list of concerns and confirm what needs to be on that list. (I hope this version captures the 9/19/2013 discussion.) There may be individual differences of what should be on the list, but that is allowable in the context that we are simply identifying concerns. From there we want to identify what approaches can be used to address these concerns. The approaches typically would involve some type of enforceable legislation that would range from an outright prohibition, to establishing criteria for time, place and manner of allowing the use.

We also want to move into the same level of discussion related to special events.

At the end of the evening the goal would be to have a general consensus on a desired approach to addressing both Short Term Rentals and Special Events.

If you have any questions, please contact me


John Ford
Senior Planner
Resource Management Agency
(831) 755-5158

To view your project online via Accela Citizen Access, please use the following link:

This is an issue that has been wrestled with by other areas, as well. This was recently reported by KSBY: “The city of San Luis Obispo says its residents cannot rent out rooms or space in their home for a time period of less than 30-days. On Wednesday, the city’s Planning Commission voted 5-1 to uphold the current ordinance that bans vacation rentals, and denied resident Sky Bergman’s appeal of the ordinance.

Bergman said she is disappointed, but not surprised. She said if it weren’t for her push and tenacity, the issue may not have gone so far. On November 12th, the city council is expected to take up the issue, as the Community Development department has been ordered to conduct a study session and will return its findings of pros and cons to council.

Bergman said she wants to be able to rent out a room in her house to make extra income. She said it would also be nice to be an ambassador to the city.

However, Doug Davidson, the Deputy Director for the Community Development Department, said there can be pros and cons to short-term rentals.

“The vacation rentals have never been allowed in the city. But prior to 2007 the ordinance was silent on them, in 2007 they were expressly prohibited until such time that an ordinance was adopted. The concerns are often neighborhood driven, about traffic and noise and other impacts that these type of uses could cause,” said Davidson.

Davidson also noted that websites like, which have made short-term rental opportunities popular, don’t charge a bed tax, which means those solicitors can have a leg up on local hotel rooms. Local hotel rooms charge a TOT (transient occupancy tax) which generate money for the local economy.

But, Davidson said the pros of short-term rentals are that people can experience San Luis Obispo in a different way when they stay in an cozy environment like someone’s home.

The Community Development department urges residents on both sides of the matter to come to the city council on November 12 to have an open discussion.

People caught breaking the rules on short-term rentals can face up to $500 in fines.”

4 thoughts on “Short Term Rentals or VRBO

  1. Thorny issue. I’d be most wary of inroads for imposing regulations, mandated by state or county, on private property. Careful of where it may lead.
    Near everyone living in or visiting Big Sur is aware of the emotional impact of this extraordinary geography. It can be life altering. Housing is SO difficult to come by and it’s not getting easier. Camp sites are closed more than open, and narrowing. Etc. So do you want to allow an experience of remarkable landscapes for 2=3 days or a week if that’s all that can be managed, or do we wave visitors through America’s most precious towns, laden with instructions and prohibitions, which may ultimately turn to constrict the neighborhood they’re intended to serve.

  2. My concern for down there is making sure vacation renters know/respect safety/emergency issues/protocols. I think Big Sur takes many people by surprise by how wild and remote it really is.

  3. Laws do not ultimately protect the ‘Wild and Free’. Oxymoron. Education/visitors center/orientation including eco/resident awareness would be more appropriate in keeping the Spirit Of Welcome, and also promotion of ‘greener tourism’… please enjoy and preserve… etc. *Idealist*

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