Vacation is over for most people, but the issue of allowing vacation rentals in Seal Beach remains.
The Seal Beach City Council rejected three requests for exemptions from the conditional use permit requirements for vacation rentals at the council's Monday, Sept. 10 meeting. The council did, however, allow the applicants more time to file permit applications. Those properties will go back to the Planning Commission.
Several Seal Beach residents, on the other hand, told the council they were opposed to allowing vacation rentals at all. As a result, the council will consider a cap on vacation rental permits in the future.
Seal Beach currently allows vacation rentals under an urgency ordinance that was extended on May 14 for an additional 10 months and 15 days. Vacation rentals are allowed only in Old Town, but not in the Surfside Colony. The new rules require an on-sight manager for two or more units and requires all property owners to apply for a conditional use permit.
The ordinance also allows owners to apply for an exemption to the conditional use permit requirement—provided they can provide evidence that there is no other way for them to make money off their property.
Greg Hastings, interim Community Development director, told the council on Sept. 10 that there had been 11 applications for vacation rental permits, five of which the Planning Commission has approved, and five applications for exemptions.
Three of those applications came before the council Monday night. Two of those applications were filed by the same couple. The council considered the applications in three separate public hearings.
Hastings, presenting the staff reports on the three requests, argued that the applicants had not presented evidence that they needed to support their requests for exemptions.
Property owner Kelly Gene Bruce said the vacation rental ordinance did not explain the difference between an exemption and an extension.
District 1 Councilwoman Ellery Deaton said that if the council denied the request for an exemption, she could apply for a conditional use permit before Oct. 10.
Robert Beck, owner of a vacation rental at 1310 and 1310-1/2 Ocean Ave., said there was nothing in the ordinance that specifies the length of time the units are rented out. He expressed the opinion that an exemption and an extension were the same under the ordinance.
However, he seemed resigned to the outcome of the hearing from the outset. “I think the writing is on the wall,” he said.
In all three cases, Deaton moved to deny the application for an extension and moved to allow the applicants until Oct. 10 to apply for permits for vacation rentals. The council voted unanimously to approve the motions in all three cases.
Public opposes vacation rentals
Earlier, however, several citizens asked the council to put an end to vacation rentals in Seal Beach.
Jim Caviola, Seal Beach resident and member of the tree advisory committee, said he was not aware of the legalization of weekly rentals until recently.
“That changes my community,” he said.
Caviola requested a moratorium on vacation rentals.
Jim Klisanin, a real estate dealer, also opposed vacation rentals. Klisanin suggested imposing increasing fines on vacation rental owners for each police call to a property—and revoking the permit after the fourth police visit.
Bill Ayres said the council should consider restrictions on vacation rentals.
“I think that short term rentals just ruin the culture of Old Town,” Ayres said.
Libby Applegate said she would like to see a moratorium on vacation rentals. Carla Watson said transient rents do not participate in the community.
Barbara Barton said she wanted to outlaw vacation rentals.
Councilwoman Deaton said the city “grandfathered” licensed vacation rentals in January 2011.
She said she wanted to ask staff to place a cap on vacation rentals, limiting the ones that are allowed to those that have permits.
City Attorney Quinn Barrow said that proposal would have to come back to both the Planning Commission and the City Council.
The council directed staff to draw up a proposed ordinance that would cap the number of vacation rentals allowed in Seal Beach.
That same night, the council also:
• Approved a two-year extension of the city's contract with Long Beach Animal Care Services.
• Rejected all bids (well, the only bid) on the Lampson Avenue median project. Councilman Gary Miller, who represents College Park East, proposed replacing the planned K-rail with a concrete wall. The change would increase the cost of the project by approximately $55,000. Staff will re-advertise bids for the project with Miller's proposed change.