Planning group fails to reach agreement on vacation-rental problems
by DAVE SCHWAB
May 02, 2014 | 817 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Angry residents want stricter controls on existing rules that govern conduct amid "problem" renters.
Angry residents want stricter controls on existing rules that govern conduct amid "problem" renters.
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Agreeing to disagree was the outcome of an April 23 stakeholder meeting of an ad hoc committee of the La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA), which failed to reach a consensus on whether new restrictions are needed to curb excesses with short-term La Jolla vacation rentals.

The five-member Ad Hoc Committee on Short-Term Vacation Rentals comprises three neutral LJCPA members — chair Helen Boyden, Jim Fitzgerald and Bob Steck — as well as citizens representative Mike Costello and Heather Weiermann, a spokesperson for short-term rental property managers.

The group has been charged with studying issues such as excessive noise and violations of neighbors’ privacy, which some claim have been plaguing local neighborhoods, and ultimately returning to the LJCPA with recommendations on what could — or should — be done about them.

But a meeting of the minds on the short-term vacation rental question thus far hasn’t found much common ground. On the one side are angry residents in single-family residential zones calling for stricter controls over rentals.

On the other side are property managers who maintain all that is needed is better enforcement of existing rental rules, such as the police CAPP program in place for troublesome residences.

“We’re a time-limited committee,” noted Boyden, who added that public comment on rental issues vetted at previous meetings was now closed.

Boyden said any recommendations coming out of the ad hoc committee will be reviewed and voted on by the full LJCPA. Those recommendations would then be forward to the city for further consideration. Any such recommendations could conceivably result in changes to the city municipal code governing short-term rentals following a long governmental review process.

Committee member Jim Fitzgerald read a list of vacation rental “problems,” which he suggested the board ought to be considering in making its final recommendations to the LJCPA.

Fitzgerald’s list included enforcement of current regulations, site-specific problems with “party house” events, frequent turnover of vacation renters and conversion of single-family neighborhoods into “tourist zones.”

Committee member Mike Costello wanted to add a couple items to that list, including “inadequate enforcement of current regulations” and “intensity of use” of vacation rentals.

Costello pointed out intensity of use issues are reflected in frequency or duration of problematic behavior at affected sites.

“There is an absence of on-site management with short-term vacation rentals,” Costello noted.

Vacation rental property managers present at the ad hoc meeting advocated enhancing the powers that police have in enforcing the Community Assisted Party Program (CAPP), which allows residences causing noise and other complaints to be cited and ultimately punished with fines for excessive noise or partying.

Residents at the meeting largely spoke out against beefing up the CAPP program, arguing it has failed to be a real deterrent to bad behavior at short-term vacation rentals because it places the burden of proof on neighbors, requires police to actually witness infractions and is time consuming to carry out.

“It is an ineffectual way to control rentals,” commented one resident.

Weiermann questioned wheth-er applying different rules for different types of rentals (short- versus long-term) was desirable or valid.

The public dialogue over short-term vacation rentals will continue at the next meeting of the ad hoc committee, set for Wednesday, May 28, at 5 p.m. at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.
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