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Roger Butow, Laguna Beach
Coastal city short-term rental (STR) proponents ignore legally binding land-use concepts, typically using meritless, flawed arguments at hearings.
They’re good for business? Unfortunately, coastal trends since 2000 are “commerce first, residents second.” By residents I mean those not owning potential STR parcels.
Favoring commerce, over 40 percent of the population who rent year-round do not wish to acquire permits. That constitutes an incontestable majority.
Beyond permit fees, there’s no proof that more STR operators would appreciably increase general municipal revenue via significant taxable amounts at businesses. Often, tenants are extended families and friends. They’ll be saving money by cooking and drinking at the rental, not out.
They increase or assist public access to our beaches? A classic strawman argument. Yes, a few hundred more people will be ensconced, but the California Coastal Commission (CCC) is dead wrong on this one. Otherwise, why allow more and more parking meters, increasing rates plus climbing violation fees? Aren’t limited time meters a form of infringement, inhibition or visitation disincentive?
Coastal cities increasingly allow intensification of use for restaurants and bars without demanding increased onsite parking. Why doesn’t the CCC object to that? These sites eat up more public parking, thus decreasing access, don’t they?
STRs are their castle, and limitations constitute a de facto taking? That ignores the basics of common civility, public and private nuisance laws traced back to King Henry III:
“Private nuisance: An unreasonable, unwarranted invasion, where actions of the defendant cause a substantial interference with another’s use/enjoyment of their property. Public nuisance: The defendant’s actions materially affect the reasonable comfort and convenience of life of the community.”
No one has the inalienable right to use their property to the diminishment of their neighbor(s). Yes, some operators are vigilant and do not abuse the terms and conditions. The nightmares abound, absentee owners are trying to maximize income to offset, mitigate their taxes and maintenance. They bought the parcel without STR rights: Enhancing private revenue models is not the community’s problem.
STRs actually diminish property values, now that’s a fiscal infringement by irregular taking including tort litigation exposure.