The article you’re about to read is from our reporters doing their important work — investigating, researching, and writing their stories. We want to provide informative and inspirational stories that connect you to the people, issues and opportunities within our community. Journalism requires lots of resources. Today, our business model has been interrupted by the pandemic; the vast majority of our advertisers’ businesses have been impacted. That’s why the SC Times is now turning to you for financial support. Learn more about our new Insider’s program here. Thank you.

By Eric Heinz

San Clemente City Council voted on Nov. 21 to send a recommended ordinance amendment to the Planning Commission for discussion on short-term lodging units (STLU) and short-term apartment rentals (STAR).

City Council approved the Planning Commission to take a look at the current ordinances with the specific guidelines that STLU laws related to residential low density zones will not change, to add a parking program for all STLU zones, ensure STAR property managers adhere to the strict 300-foot buffer between one another, to make modifications to density and other issues related to the STLU overlay in the maps (attached to the link on this article online). Council also approved to look at extending the permit amortization period for those who have been in good standing with the city another eight years (bringing the total to 10 years of being permitted). The city’s legal staff will also address issues related to permits obtained by STLU owners that are not being used.

In 2016, the city enacted the STLU ordinances amid hundreds of complaints it had received related to the businesses operating in residential neighborhoods.

The idea was that the laws would also curtail the number of sober living residences in the area.

The city currently has 225 registered STLUs and, in Feb. 2016, there were 512 vacation rental permits. The 225 are the only ones that qualified for the permits under the city’s process.

San Clemente resident Anthony Lafrano, who has been vocal in his opposition to short-term lodging since the boon began a few years ago, implored the City Council to make more restrictions.

“We just want peace,” Lafrano said, adding that the short-term rentals would continue to hamper quality of life in the area. He also commented on the argument saying, “This is a horrible business model and an even worse retirement plan. It’s not the responsibility of the voters of San Clemente to make sure their retirement plan (makes returns).”

Steve Cortez, who owns a property in the 300 block of West Palizada used for vacation renting, said he has rented to people who are retirees or of similar ilk. The Palizada home is just outside the areas where STLUs are permitted to operate, but Cortez said he has a current permit for it.

Cortez said his permanent residence is in Anaheim.

“When we bought (the property) in San Clemente, we bought it thinking we would retire here, but we also wanted to rent it out for a few weeks,” Cortez said, adding that his tenants frequent the city’s businesses. He said his guests were not the people “who are getting drunk in the street.”

Several more people spoke in favor of and against the extension of STLU allowances.
People who operate STLUs in San Clemente must apply for a permit and pay transient occupancy tax (TOT), also known as the bedroom tax. The properties cannot operate within 300 feet of one another, which makes the process competitive, especially in condensed areas of San Clemente. Another piece of the ordinance relates to short-term apartment rentals (STAR) with similar limitations.

The Planning Commission will consider the amendments at a meeting in the future. Because of where the development standards are located, the California Coastal Commission will likely weigh in on the issue. The Coastal Commission has advocated for allowing more multiuse homes and lodging as a way to deter further development.

Trustworthy, accurate and reliable local news stories are more important now than ever. Support our newsroom by making a contribution and becoming a subscribing member today.

About The Author Staff

comments (4)

  • so the out of town guy with the one bedroom little stl with the front yard patio open door tv blaring and ten foot flames coming out of a chix n #%@! sheet metal k mart fire pit gets it all ,,,gee its like the miramar and beach parking no competition no love no parking no safety no more neighborhoods ::::::::::) – :p

  • I find it funny that the out of town owners of these STLU’s always claim it’s not their renters that cause problems. Their renters aren’t the type to get drunk on the street….How would they know? They’re living out of town!
    I’ve lived next to an STLU for years. They are a nightmare and negatively affect the character of our residential neighborhoods. Get rid of these businesses once and for all. Send the out of town profiteers packing!

  • STLU is a great ROI. I don’t like the sober living homes but, vacation rentals really help the city. San Clemente is and has been a tourist destination. Tourism helps everyone. It is something our local businesses count on. There shouldn’t be any regulation on Vacation rentals.

  • In lieu to the standardization of processing sales taxes, licenses, zoning and audits, it is but proper to set limitations on these two industries – hotels and vacation rentals. We cannot just simply have a uniform rule for both entities since they are totally different.There may be laws/ordinances would be applicable to hotels but not to short term vacation rentals, or the other way. Somehow, illustration on the different regulations set forth for both entities must be identified since we are all looking its implications on economics and promoting safety and security to the general public. Please check to learn about vacation rentals.

comments (4)

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>