From the Highland STRs group:

The PC staff is having a meeting in Big Sur next week [Tuesday at 9:30 at the Lodge] where they will be recommending/announcing they will be restricting STR’s to “Home Stays”  in a Host’s permanent residence, and only while they are actually living/staying there.  We discussed this in our last meeting, and now the shape of it is better known.  We will need (at some point) to decide whether Carmel Highlands wants to end up with a identical situation.

It is a compromise from the PC’s previous position, and it does accomplish some of what we have been fighting for.  The key things missing are enforcement and ADA. It is not clear where traffic, leach field, water, advertising and other issues end up from our point of view, but it is clearly better than before.  There is also a technical issue on the number of people a Host can rent to because the draft ordinance limit of two times the number of bedrooms doesn’t leave a room for the owner.
On enforcement: responsibility for enforcement shifts entirely to the neighbors from a practical point of view.  The County is substituting an ordinance it won’t enforce, to one it can’t enforce.  On the other hand, fines are way up, and we might have the same legal options we have now (requires legal verification).  And paying a firm for enforcement is cheaper than litigation against the County and Coastal Commission.
I know there are some in our group who have favored this approach, at least in concept. It is also similar to the approach being supported by Carmel Valley.
Please read it carefully when you have a chance, think about it, and let’s communicate our thoughts to each other. (Or in Big Sur’s Case, at the meeting on Tuesday)
There is a bit more info on the website – specifically from Mary Adams office.

Planning Commission Draft Ordinance – “Home Stays” Simplified Explanation



No more than two (2) times the total number of bedrooms

Home Stay Definition

There are two different kinds:

A.     The STR unit is the STR Operator’s principal residence, and the STR Operator resides at the STR site while it is occupied by short-term renters.

Planning Commission staff makes the following preliminary recommendation (for Big Sur):

• STRs that are defined as homestays, are consistent with the BSLUP and should be allowed.

• STRs that are to be rented 12 times per year or fewer and not more than 2 times per year (referred to herein as “low-frequency STR”) and: Are a primary residence, are consistent with the BSLUP and should be allowed.

B.     The STR unit is not the STR Operator’s principal residence

Planning Commission staff makes the following preliminary recommendation (for Big Sur):

• STRs that would require a Coastal Development Permit (equivalent to the “Use Permit” in the Draft Ordinance), are not consistent with the BSLUP and should not be allowed.

• STRs that are to be rented 12 times per year or fewer and not more than 2 times per year (referred to herein as “low-frequency STR”) and are not a primary residence, are not consistent with the BSLUP and should not be allowed 

• Un-Hosted Short-Term Rental or Un-Hosted STR: A short-term rental whereby the STR Operator does not reside at the STR site while it is occupied by short- term renters are not consistent with the BSLUP and should not be allowed 

STRs in Big Sur Land Use Plan area withdrawn from Planning Commission meeting

This is a long letter, but I feel important enough to post in full. Because of the way they are formatted, I must post as images. It is just over 3 pages.



Short term rental meeting

It was 14 years ago when we last visited this issue. I was not involved, I was transistioning in my own life, and wasn’t focused outward as much as I am at this moment.

After the BSMAAC meeting on Friday, May 17th, reported here, we had a working group meeting on Wednesday the 22nd in Salinas. The issue is short term rentals and events, although events is not getting much “air time” at the moment.

There were a lot of good comments on all sides about this issue. However, I was a bit saddened to see the acrimonious behavior of several community members at this meeting. Very disappointed if we allow this conversation to devolve into emotional attacks on one another. Both sides allowed that to happen. I don’t think one person is responsible. How we react is just as important as how we act.

Hopefully each Big Sur resident can assist in keeping this issue organic and not divisive. Lets all try to see the concerns of one another. There are more than just two sides – there are as many “sides” as there are residents of Big Sur.

One thing we all need to look at is the long-term effects of any decision we make today. That is what I have seen time and time again with various laws we have enacted. We haven’t seen beyond the immediate personal desires to the ultimate consequences of our actions. I used as an example what I know – criminal law. We react to a situation, enact laws that don’t take into account the ultimate consequences – such as the three strikes law, which imprisoned people for life when the third strike was a $25 petty theft of DVDs. Eventually, we woke up to the fact that we didn’t want to support these people for life, provide them with their basic needs and better medical care than some of us can afford, because once we, as a society, take over responsibility for these individuals, we must, legally and morally, take care of them humanely. So, once we realized what we had done, and the consequences of our actions, we woke up and changed the law. I have dozens and dozens of example where we were governed by principles of short-sightedness. Let that not rule us here. We need to look first at the larger picture … Our vision of and with Big Sur, THEN take a look at the specific problems and potential solutions.

Let us not start from a place of sleep, but of wakefulness. Rentals in Big Sur, whether long-term or short term, will affect our community. The questions become … How do we want them to affect this beautiful place we call home? What is our vision for this place? Lets start with the big questions, the overall goals we share. Big Sur WILL change. It has changed, it will continue to change. Can we, as a community direct this change? Can we work together, or will we let personal fears and concerns dictate our actions and reactions.

Most of us, after 9/11 were more than happy to give up freedom for personal security. I thought it was an error then, and I watch us, as a nation, proceed further down this path. We let our government dictate what is best for us. That has never been Big Sur.

I have only lived here for just under 30 years. I wasn’t born here, I was born in SF. I wasn’t raised here, I was raised in So Cal. I’ve watched my home state change a lot in my 64 years. I’ve watched Big Sur change a lot in 30 years. One thing about us as a community that I have always loved and respected is our independence and non-reliance on government entities to solve our problems. We solve them ourselves. We fight it out, work together, find solutions and compromise. That has always been who we are. Now we are bringing in government entities, in the form of County Planning, County Health Department, County Law Enforcement, and County Counsel to solve an issue which is ours. Lets find ways to solve this ourselves.

I do not have a pony in this show, I have very dear friends that I deeply care about on all sides of this issue. My main concerns are that we keep this process fair, representative, balanced, and respectful. If living here in Big Sur has taught us anything, She has taught us the need for this. Big Sur is the epitome of Mother Nature. She teaches fairness, balance, and respect, or, as we all know, she spits us out.

I find it absolutely ironic that I am writing this blog post while I am watching the news of follow-up reports on the devastation in the OK tornadoes where 1300 homes were lost, not even considering the children and lives lost. Do you see the irony?

Tomorrow, I will post a potion of the 1982 Big Sur Land Use Plan that details residences and where we were then. We then can see where we are now, and where we want to go in the next 30 years. Please be a part of the conversation, no matter where you stand. Just remember who we are and what we stand for – Big Sur – respect, balance, and beauty.