Santa Cruz County to again look at vacation rental ordinance

By Samantha Clark, Santa Cruz Sentinel

Planning Commission Meeting
What: Public hearing to consider amendments to vacation rental ordinance.
When: Noon, Wednesday.
Where: Board of Supervisors Chamber, County Government Center, 701 Ocean St., Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz >> Owners of vacation rentals may have to comply with another new set of regulations.

Some of the owners see changes to Santa Cruz County’s vacation rental rules as another wave of limits strangling their market, which has been bolstered by Internet service sites, such as AirBnb, that easily connect vacationers drawn to Santa Cruz’s famous surf and sand.

For a decade, the county has been fiddling with this issue. Nearby Santa Cruz, Capitola and Monterey have vacation rental rules.

“It does seem that this is being shoved through,” said Paul Bailey of Bailey Properties Inc. in Aptos. “It just seems to be a little harsh and fast and discretionary. The county should come to the community, publicize the ordinance, what they want, and there should be a series of public meetings to discuss it.”

However, county staff mailed information about the proposed changes to a number of local development associations and owners of vacation rentals and asked for comments.

Directed by the Board of Supervisors, the Planning Department wrote the amendments, which the Planning Commission will vote on a public hearing at its Wednesday meeting.

The staff plans to also present public comments it received last month. Though the written public comment period is closed, the public will have an opportunity to weigh in again at the meeting.

The possible amendments would require signage and an online list of contact information for properties, expand what constitutes a significant permit violation and require permit amendments for building expansions. The proposed amendments also extend Live Oak’s regulations, which saw sharp criticism from rental owners, to the Seacliff and Aptos coastal areas.

The changes would limit the number of vacation rentals, which would be capped at 15 percent for the area and 20 percent for any one block. Streets along the beach, where the number of vacation homes already exceeds the proposed cap, would be limited to 35 percent to 50 percent of the homes. In addition, all permits would need to be renewed every five years.