With the Herald article I published Tuesday, and with the public comment period underway for STRs (Short Term Rentals), this seemed like an appropriate topic for today’s post. There is a conflux of issues with the STRs and overtourism here in Big Sur. It is one reason this post is WAY longer than I usually post. There just seemed to be so much to cover in this battle to save our community.
One concern, of course, is that as tourism increases, the spending at our local establishments does not keep pace, this is one of the factors in the equation that must be considered. People who are staying at STRs – Airbnb, etc. – are not staying in our local hotels and motels, which then takes away more business from the establishments when the hotel/motel guests would normally patronize their restaurants and stores and are not doing so. Additionally, local businesses have difficulty finding employees And often must provide housing, if they can, or hire people who have long commutes just to get to work in the service industry. Imagine a Big Sur with no Nepenthe or River Inn or Fernwood or Deetjen’s or all the other local businesses.
STRs take housing away from locals so that the owners of the property can support their inflated purchase prices, or simply make money, and then the businesses have trouble getting and keeping employees. No where is this more apparent to me than down here on the South Coast because it is the area with which I am most familiar.
Staffing for the local school has always been a challenge. Some staff must commute all the way from Cambria, which is especially difficult during road closures. Others live in trailers on the school property. In speaking with USFS staff at the Big Sur Fire open house, and then Tuesday with the District Ranger, Tim Short, I discovered that staff housing for the USFS Pacific Valley Station has created a dangerous situation. It does not have the staff it needs to provide an Engine to this community for fire season. It is hoping to rectify this before fire season completely kicks off, but at this time, there is a housing shortage for any future staff.
Other popular tourist destinations are finding that the Airbnb or other STRs are modifying the nature of the community and in many instances, destroying it.
“The plight of Barcelona shows the damage Airbnb can do, exacerbating urban inequality and freezing out young locals.” (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/aug/31/airbnb-sharing-economy-cities-barcelona-inequality-locals)
“Airbnb rentals reduce the supply of long-term rentals in communities, creating economic costs that outweigh the benefits, according to research presented by Economic Policy Institute Research Director Josh Bivens in a new paper. Local policymakers should pay heed, says Bivens, and certainly not change local regulations and tax structures to benefit Airbnb.” https://www.realtrends.com/blog/economist-warns-airbnb-rentals-impact-housing-crisis/
“Airbnb and Miami Beach Are at War. Travelers Are Caught in the Crossfire.” ““You get to a point where you feel like you’re living in a hotel room,” said Kathaleen Smarsh, a resident of Flamingo Park. “You don’t know who is coming and going at all hours.”
Vacation Rental Draft Ordinances and associated environmental analysis are available for public view at the following link:
In the link above you will find the following:
- Notice of Public Availability of Proposed Vacation Rental Regulations [PDF]
- Draft Ordinance Amending Title 20 (Coastal Zoning) Relating to Vacation Rentals [PDF]
- Draft Ordinance Amending Title 21 (Non-Coastal Zoning) Relating to Vacation Rentals [PDF]
- Draft Ordinance Amending Section 7.02.060 and Adding Chapter 7.110 Relating to Vacation Rental Activities [PDF]
- Environmental Analysis
And finally, a Big Sur resident’s perspective from the North Coast:
“Continued [from the comments made on my Tourist Tuesday post] – One of the many reasons why none of the 3 categories of Vacation Rentals should be allowed in Big Sur, and why the County should continue to prohibit them is … See TITLE 20 – Definitions – Section 20.06.360 … the short version “Dwellings …. occupied exclusively for non-transient residential purposes.”
If you made it to the end, I would like to thank you for caring, and hopefully, you can now visit the links above and craft a meaningful comment to be considered on Monterey County’s draft STR ordinance.