Monterey County Vacation Rental Alliance
Monterey County Vacation Rental Alliance
Monterey County Vacation Rental Alliance
The Monterey County Vacation Rental Alliance (MCVRA) is a coalition of homeowners and property managers in Monterey County. We represent, support, and protect residential vacation rentals. Vacation rental owners provide furnished homes to guests for stays of less than 30 days. We work to protect and support vacation rentals by working with elected officials, government staff, and the media. We monitor local legislation that could impact vacation rentals. Proposed laws and regulations are reviewed and a position is presented to government officials. If a proposed regulation is detrimental to vacation rentals, we mobilize our members to action in order to modify the regulation to get a win-win-win result – a win for the local economy, a win for neighborhoods, and a win for owners. We interface with the media to communicate the benefits and the issues resulting from proposed laws. Members of the Alliance believe strongly in responsible management to insure vacation homes fit seamlessly into neighborhoods. For our brochure, click here.
We have retained attorney Gary Patton to work with local governmental policy makers to facilitate an acceptable ordinance. He is a lawyer skilled in land use law and has experience with the California Coastal Commission. As a former Santa Cruz County supervisor, he also provides political advice.
History and Achievements of MCVRA
Property managers and property owners have been renting homes on a short-term basis for many decades. In 1997, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance permitting and regulating rentals of 30 days or less in all unincorporated areas of the County. The inland version of that ordinance went into effect but the coastal zone version was rejected and returned by the Coastal Commission for revision. The County failed to make the revisions thereby leaving coastal zone property owners without a permitting process. Believing that it was the County’s intent to allow STRs, property managers and owner-operators registered their rentals to pay the applicable Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) and continued to rent their properties. The County has collected hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years in TOT from these STRs.
Rather than take responsibility for its failure to complete the revision and ratification of the rental ordinance for the coastal zone, in 2013 the County began to cite and fine owners and property managers. One of our directors was initially fined $10,000 and then an additional $26,000.
The Monterey County Vacation Rental Alliance (MCVRA) was formed in 2014 to work with the Monterey County to create and adopt an ordinance that will get Coastal Commission approval and that will provide a fair and workable framework for STRs throughout the County.
In 2015 Monterey County released a memorandum publicly stating its opinion that STRs in the coastal zone are prohibited. Their argument is that, if STRs are not specifically permitted by regulation, they are therefore prohibited. The memorandum emboldened opponents to contact the County to cite and shut down dozens of STRs. Property owners and managers who do not comply are fined heavily. One owner faced a $100,000 fine. That owner sued the County but unfortunately, the court affirmed the County’s position.
Even though an ordinance for the inland region of Monterey County has been in effect since 1997, the situation is not much better. The inland regulations require a $6,000 application fee for a discretionary permit, the application fee is not refunded if a permit is not issued, and if you are lucky enough to get a permit, you are limited to rentals of 7 nights or more. Consequently, most property owners ignore the law and only 20 inland permits have been issued since 1997.
A new, fair ordinance for the entire County of Monterey is long overdue. The MCVRA Board of Directors and its members continue to volunteer countless hours toward this goal. We also monitor local city regulations affecting STRs and we take action when appropriate.
Though we are frustrated that we still do not have a new County ordinance, we have had some accomplishments. We:
- Hired legal representation. We retained Gary Patton, a skilled land use attorney and former Santa Cruz County supervisor. His steady, insightful legal and political counsel has been invaluable. Gary advises and guides us as we meet with and appeal to Monterey County and local city officials, California Coastal Commissioners, Planning Commissioners, and planning department staff.
- Stopped a proposed County ordinance in 2014. It would have limited rentals to just 7 nights per month and eliminated many existing STRs with a one-STR-per-15 acre density limit.
- Commissioned an economic impact report. That report estimates STRs provide $131.8 million in benefit to the local economy and support 1,400 jobs.
- Commissioned two separate public opinion polls. The most recent 2016 poll shows 66% of Monterey County residents think STRs are beneficial.
- Helped defeat California Senate bill SB593 in 2015. That bill would have required online companies like HomeAway and Airbnb to report each STR owner and property manager to the local jurisdiction.
- Successfully lobbied the Monterey County Supervisors to prioritize an ordinance development. In April 2016 we lobbied the Supervisors to direct County staff to develop an STR ordinance and present it to the Planning Commission “in the near future.” Without this effort, a new STR ordinance would never have come before the Planning Commission.
- Lobbied the Coastal Commission to intervene with the County. After many contacts with the California Coastal Commission, it sent a letter to the County in June 2016 stating STRs are allowed in the coastal zone.
- Conducted a survey of STR owners regarding affordable housing. This survey conducted throughout the incorporated and unincorporated areas of the County concluded that STRs have NO impact on affordable housing.
- Worked with the Seaside City Council to create a very fair ordinance. The ordinance was effective August 2018. Every STR that was previously operating was grandfathered the right to get a license. When some implementation problems arose, MCVRA worked with STR owners and the City to solve the issues.
- Successfully stopped Carmel-by-the-Sea from banning STRs in commercial zones. STRs have long been banned in residential areas of the town but the City Council intended to ban STRs in commercial zones also.
- Successfully argued to bring the Big Sur area back into the STR ordinance development process. When the Pfeiffer Bridge collapsed in 2017, Big Sur was exempted from the STR ordinance development process. On January 10, 2018, MCVRA successfully supported the proposal to include Big Sur in the drafting of a County-wide ordinance. Big Sur residents had demanded a total ban on STRs.
- Successfully lobbied the Monterey County Supervisors to limit STR enforcement. Based upon complaints from neighbors, the County was enforcing the simple act of operating an STR by putting owners on notice followed by citations and fines, even when no neighborhood nuisance had occurred. In July 2018, we successfully got the County Supervisors to enforce STRs ONLY when a verified nuisance (noise, parking, trash, etc.) had occurred.
- Continue to advocate for a reasonable Monterey County ordinance. MCVRA directors along with many of our members continue to represent STR owners in meetings with Monterey County staff and decision makers. The voices of the opposition are loud and numerous. Without our strong presence in each and every meeting and hearing, we would undoubtedly get an onerous STR ordinance.
Your financial contributions make a huge impact. Without your contributions, your MCVRA directors will not succeed. We respectfully ask that each STR owner or property manager help this cause. Please go to www.mcvra.org/join-renew. Your all-volunteer MCVRA directors take not a dime. With your help, MCVRA will invest the many hours needed to guide County Supervisors and city councils to develop ordinances that will support STRs and allow your vacation rentals to prosper.
Together we will succeed,
Your MCVRA Directors
THE LONG RUN
In any jurisdiction, it is not sufficient to get a fair ordinance and then sit back. The opposition will attempt to repeal the ordinance or increase the restrictions. Here is an example. For years Pacific Grove permitted short-term rentals with limits on the number and density. Unfortunately, in spite of our intense, well funded efforts to assist STR owners in Pacific Grove, Measure M passed in November 2018. This eliminated all Pacific Grove short-term rentals except those in the narrow coastal zone and in commercially zoned areas.
And of course there will always be turnover in elected officials with different agendas. MCVRA meets with candidates to explain the benefits of STRs. MCVRA will continue to represent and support you for the long run.