As the largest professional manager of vacation rentals in Morro Bay, Beach-N-Bay Getaways and URelax Vacation Rentals have worked with the city and participated on the committee to develop reasonable and common sense regulations for vacation rentals going forward. These regulations include restrictions on occupancy, parking and noise along with clear signage to identify licensed rentals to neighbors and other provisions to create a safe and controlled environment for guests to enjoy the city without disturbing neighbors. These steps along with vastly increased money for enforcement through higher permit fees will greatly improve the quality of life for residents and provide funds for the city to act against unlicensed illegal vacation rentals. We do understand that a few rentals have disturbed neighbors and we welcome most of these rules to rectify the situation.
One provision we do not agree with is the proposed lottery system, which will arbitrarily take away people’s vacation rental licenses in a lottery process that the city staff has described as difficult if not impossible to administer fairly. Many of these license holders have operated for years without a single complaint and have always paid tax to the city, helping improve the city for residents and guests alike. Instead of a lottery we ask for a natural attrition process. As owners move into these homes to retire or decide to sell the home, the number of vacation rentals will decrease and new ones will not replace them due to the new density requirements, which will not allow vacation rentals in close proximity to each other. The city staff has pointed out that they see an attrition rate of over 20 licenses each year, over 10% of the total active licensed rentals. We ask that the city allow the new rules and natural attrition to alleviate the situation rather than force people out of their licenses. Many of these owners have sunk their life’s savings into these homes in the hopes of retiring to Morro Bay one day. The lottery and loss of license would devastate these owners.
In working with the city, we have discovered that the bulk of complaints are against illegal vacation rentals and second homes, which do not fall under vacation rental rules. These homes are often confused with licensed vacation rentals as the current method of identifying licensed rentals is poor but will be dramatically improved under the new ordinance. This, along with the call-in hotline for complaints, will provide neighbors with a much better resource to deal with any issues that arise. We do not feel it is fair to act against licensed rentals for the actions committed by other homes. Our website, ShareMorroBay.com, includes a list of all the licensed vacation rentals to make it easier for neighbors to identify illegal rentals so the city can take action.
The maps of the beach tract and other areas showing all license vacation rentals can look unsettling, but a quick search of advertising and the tax reporting shows that there are far fewer active vacation rentals than it would seem. The map of the beach tract from Sienna to Orcas that appeared in the last Estero Bay News [Vol. 2 Issue 18] showed 40 rentals, but only about half are active. Of the 250 licenses, we know that there are only about 150 active Full-Home VRs. The new ordinance would eliminate licenses that are not active, and it would result in significantly fewer rentals.
The financial impacts would not just be felt by homeowners and managers. There are dozens of housekeepers, window washers, maintenance providers and others that would be severely impacted by the lottery system. These are people that live and work in the area, have families to provide for and yet they could be devastated. The city’s loss of income means more city employees remain laid off or furloughed, and less services to residents. Is there enough evidence that vacation rentals are so harmful to justify these negative effects?
We ask the city and the residents of Morro Bay to allow the new rules and natural attrition of rentals to take its course before forcing people out of their licenses and dreams. Morro Bay has been a tourist destination for decades and vacation rentals are a critical part of the visitor-serving community, especially for families where hotels will not work. Many of these families visit Morro Bay each year. For them, an opportunity to spend some time at the beach with their children and grandparents is the highlight of their year. Let’s not take that away from them.