ENCINITAS — The Encinitas City Council was prepared this week to approve a new slate of rules and regulations surrounding short-term rentals before dozens of residents voiced their opposition to the plans.
The proposed ordinance included implementing a five-night minimum requirement for guests of short-term rental units, including rentals from popular home-sharing apps like Airbnb and Vrbo, and instructing rental hosts to personally check-in guests to confirm their identities.
Following public input, the council has opted to shelve the proposals pending further discussion.
At the public hearing, over 40 residents spoke on the issue, with a clear majority opposed to many, if not all, of the proposed regulations, particularly those related to a five-day minimum stay requirement.
City staff believed implementing these requirements would help to limit other prohibited activities in short-term rentals such as loud parties and gatherings and issues surrounding parking.
A common refrain from residents in both public and written comments submitted to the city were that short-term rental operators currently average approximately three nights per visit from renters.
“We try to avoid people that stay a single day,” said Randy Boyer, who operates an owner-occupied short-term rental in Leucadia. “We don’t think that’s a good situation to have single-day renters. I think five days is a mistake, I really do.”
The council had a lengthy and productive discussion on the issues raised by residents including discussions around removing the minimum stay requirement for owner-occupied units and changing the minimum to three days for whole homes rented to short-term visitors.
Other cities in North County have different ways to handle short-term rentals. The city of Oceanside, for example, requires a two-day minimum for visitors while the cities of Del Mar and Solana Beach both require a more lengthy seven-day minimum, which is still under review by the California Coastal Commission.
New changes will have to be reintroduced to the Encinitas City Council with new definitions and regulations, including the definition of an “owner-occupied” unit.
Mayor Catherine Blakespear suggested expanding to include operators renting accessory dwelling units (ADUs) separate from their main homes to be considered owner-occupied.
“This is the first time the whole council has talked about this and the public has been able to weigh in,” Blakespear said. “Recognizing that we want to make these changes I think we need to do that.”
City staff says it will be doing further analysis on owner-occupied units before bringing the ordinance back to the council. Staff will also conduct an analysis on limiting the number of short-term rentals in the city.
Blakespear also suggested doing away with a prohibition in the proposed ordinance on lockboxes used to allow guests to check themselves in without the owner present.
Councilmember Joe Mosca said the prohibition should remain for investor-owned units.
“Having somebody that is there that is able to check them in and basically observe and give them information, I do think that’s going to decrease the chance of parties,” Mosca said.
The council voted unanimously, with Councilmember Kellie Shay Hinze recused, to request city staff bring back the ordinance with the discussed modifications as well as the new analyses.