Oxnard holds Short-Term Rental community meeting
a controversial issue locally and nationwide
By George Miller
About 140 people showed up at the Oxnard Performing Arts Center on Tuesday, 8-16-16 for a community meeting to discuss issues and potential action on the short-term rental situation. It locally impacts beach neighborhoods the most. Kathleen Mallory of the Planning Department and consultant Ken Lee conducted the meeting.
In summary, it appears that is no longer legally possible to ban such rentals outright (although some residents dispute that). But it is possible to regulate them to manage problems, while simultaneously protecting property rights. So, this will be the course pursued. Because short-term rentals are also a problem elsewhere in the County, the Board of Supervisors may weigh in as well.
The stated objectives of the meeting were to inform the public about short term rentals and the city process, review STR survey results, solicit input for a community exercise and advise the public on next steps.
Here are the meeting presentation materials: Aug 16th Presentation (PDF)
The City has created this web page on the subject: https://www.oxnard.org/str/
The Process & Meeting Outcome
This was the process overview presented:
So far, the City has researched the situation with the County, concerned residents, Planning and Police Depts. They have looked at other cities and interaction with the California Coastal Commission (CCC). They took a formal survey open to residents. Results were released in June, it has been discussed at City Council meetings, then this week this meeting was held. A study session is planned for this fall and two hearings in the winter. So, it looks like the City plans to have rules in place during this winter.
As previously stated, it appears that is not legally possible to ban such rentals outright, but it is possible to regulate them to manage problems, while simultaneously protecting property rights.
Some complained that no public comments were accepted at the meeting. However, there has been sufficient opportunity to log views in writing and it kept the meeting down to an hour. It appears that the Planning Dept. has done an outstanding job in documenting the feedback here: https://www.oxnard.org/str/. There was ample opportunity for Q&A with City personnel after the formal meeting ended.
So, how can the City/residents manage the situation without unduly constraining residents, property owners and tenants? Currently there are no regulations. The City would like to clarify that short-term rentals are in fact a business. Dozens of renters already self-identify, collect and pay Transient Occupancy Taxes (TOT). It appears that some do not- a revenue opportunity for the City.
The city is contemplating requiring a business license; permits; inspection/certification, mandating lease provisions concerning noise, occupancy, conduct, traffic, parking; requiring a caretaker to be available. There is talk about limiting the number of STR’s, their distance apart, rental duration, maximum rental nights and more.
Most of the neighborhoods in question are clearly zoned as residential, so it was known in advance. Then, is it really a “taking” of property rights to restrict or even eliminate short-term rentals? We asked that question of several people. Even a hard-line property rights advocate like City Council candidate Aaron Starr told us that residents’ rights to “quiet enjoyment” of their properties are just as important as rights of other owners to do what they see fit with their own property. Tenants who are not invested in the community- owners, or even longer term tenants- may not share that view- hence the situation now under review.
Here is the event by Dan Pinedo/CitizensJournal.us
City staff queried the audience on 7 questions, including whether they wanted to totally ban STR’s or otherise regulate them. They voted by affixing colored dots to posters offering choices. Below, the question “Should STR’s be banned in Oxnard” (technically illegal to pass new bans in CA coastal regions) was posed. Top section is yes-ban. Bottom section is no ban. As you can see, the group was divided. We did not see the final vote totals.
Results of this poll will be published on the city STR website previously cited.
Questions included for 8-16-16 meeting included: limits to number of guests?; distance between STR’s?; seasonal changes to rental durations?; maximum number of rental nights annually?; minimum rental time duration?; require owner to be on-site?; total ban?
In March, a written survey on STR’s was conducted. The results released in June, in summary, were as follows:
45% saw a negative impact of STRs 25% saw both pro’s and con’s.
LOTS of comments received: https://www.oxnard.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/SupplementalResponses.pdf
Some key points of the survey:
The Oxnard beach community is rather laid back. It is a quiet retreat from hectic life, a sanctuary for residents and visitors alike. Its ocean beaches are long, beautiful and remarkably uncrowded. Housing prices are some of the highest in town, but only a fraction of more well-known beach communities, like Malibu, Santa Barbara, Newport Beach, Santa Monica and Manhattan Beach.
It unusual to see major conflict in the beach neighborhoods. But, Short-Term Rentals (STR’s) of beach houses has been one of the hottest, most bitterly controversial issues lately- even more so than the new power plant proposal. A hard-fought and dirty-trick laden board election was fought over STR’s within the Mandalay Shores Community Association (Mandalay Beach/AKA Oxnard Shores), with the majority of the new board opposing any type of short-term rentals.
That organization’s rules prohibit STR’s, defined as 30 days or less rental periods, but dozens of owners rent anyway. So what we have here is a classic case of property rights: the owners’/renters’ rights to do with their property as the see fit vs. the rights to “quiet enjoyment” of the opposing property owners. The latter are sick of abusive owners/tenants who sometimes make their life a living hell- via loud parties, drunken behavior, trash strewn around, parking taken up, extra traffic and even crime. Other neighborhoods have had problems, too.
So why now? This issue has been simmering for a long time, but in recent years, the need/desire of owners for income and the advent of highly successful rental web sites such as AirBnB and Home Away have made it far easier to attract tenants fron
This is an issue in beach communities all over and even in some non-beach areas, such as Ojai. Most beach communities have some sort of regulation over STR’s. However, the California Coastal Commission (CCC) has review authority over regulations in coastal areas. It specifically blocks STR bans, on the grounds that coastal areas should be kept “accessible” and promote tourism, which it feels the rentals do. However, it is OK with reasonable regulation, but CCC determines what that is- still another erosion of local control within the state. Cities that ban STR’s did so before the Coastal Commission got involved and are presumably “grandfathered” in with their regulations.
There are cases where the CCC has shot down attempts to ban or what they say is over-restricting STR’s. For example, bans have been overturned in Encinitas and Pismo Beach and Hermosa Beach. CCC is preparing to review Manhattan Beach’s ban.
The City of Oxnard has had numerous complaints about problems caused by short-term rental tenants. Sometimes, the Oxnard Police Department is asked to intervene in disputes between tenants, renting owners and upset neighbors. But since regulations don’t prohibit the rentals, it can only act on specific offenses of other ordinances, such as noise, disorderly conduct, unsafe vehicle operation, parking violations, etc. But, over the last year or so, they are positioning themselves to act, via the City Council and Planning Dept. The Council instructed the police to study the problem and the Planning Dept. to take action. So they conducted a public survey in March, released the results, which included a hefty 750 responses, in June. They held this Community Meeting on 8-17-16 on the subject, to inform the public and solicit some input on enforcement priorities.
Beach property owners Robert and Demetra Greenfield are now litigating for their right to rent their property. Last we heard, a hearing is scheduled for September 19, 2016 in Ventura County Superior Court.
Oxnard Shores resident Julie Pena, who has been heavily involved in neighborhood Councils and currently on the board of the Inter-Neighborhood Council, is not opposed to short-term rentals, but would like to see some safeguards implemented. She told us that the caretakers are a good idea and that registration/licensing and permits would be OK if costs and bureaucracy could be contained. Although she is a local realtor, she said that she doesn’t do short-term rentals and doesn’t rent out her house. She said that Keller-Williams and Coldwell-Banker do the most such business. She also opined that full service local brokers, as opposed to cut-rate on line rental services, can provide far better service and help avoid most of the problems that have surfaced.
Former Mandalay Shores Community Association Chair David Laufer takes a very different stance. He is totally opposed to any short-term rentals and regards them as the scourge of the neighborhood. He has told us that his neighborhood is intended to be residential, free of the de facto “hotels” which some owners are running as businesses and adversely altering the character of the area.
Laufer’s aggressive attempts to stop it have resulted in spending more on legal fees than the Association previously spent in the previous five years, per Pena. She laments that “win or lose, we pay,” and that members will be forced to pay for litigation costs, which may include opposition attorney fees and court costs.
Laufer sent us this after the meeting:
David Laufer of Oxnard Shores Community XXX sent this: The Federal Trade Commission, class action counsel and state regulators are reviewing the regulatory implications of short term rentals and the franchises compliance issues I outline.
Local rental realtor opines
Kristina Brewer, Manager of Remax, started their rental division years ago. They currently manage 72 rental clients, mostly in Oxnard and Ventura. She says there are 54 in “the Shores” (Oxnard Shores) and she has 15. She said prior to that Caldwell-Banker had all of the 80 or so rentals. Most are managed by owners.
She says vacation rentals have existed in the area at least since 1965. When asked why this has become such a big issue in recent years, she gave us both a macro and a micro view (local) of why…. She said “since 2008 when the market tanked” and economy soured, homeowners are scrambling to make money, get cash. Renting their vacation homes is a good way to do that.
Some use brokers., but most are DIY (Do it yourself, by owners), she told us. They can use Internet services to do this. But these are not full service organizations. Hence the tenant problems which drive neighbors crazy. The full service brokers like ReMax vet tenants, structure leases to help protect all stakeholders, watch the properties, provide 24/7 management and security service, take interest in a longer-term, ongoing relationship with client/owners.
She added that everything is on the Internet now, 24/7, with about 25 different rental sites. She said that “AirBnB really blew it up…. offering rentals of everything- houses, apartments, RVs, boats, trailers, whatever.”
Brewer told us that some of the self-managing owners bringing in too many people and even permit weddings at their places. Such things are far more likely to generate complaints from neighbors. She also said that even they were having problems with rentals of 3 days duration or less. The turnover and turmoil was creating too many problems, so they are moving more to 7 days or longer rentals and things are going more smoothly now.
She said that she actually would welcome more structure in the STR process to reduce problems.
Ms. Brewer also said that the STR situation is not just local, it’s all up and down the coast.
When asked about cost of her service vs. benefits, she said that they charge 15% for their services, less for longer term rentals. Evidently customers like what they are getting, since business is good.
When asked about whether STR’s constitute a business, she said she understood from an Oxnard City management person that 3 or more houses being rented by an owner constitute a business, according to the city. She said she is trying to put her hands on the regulation that states this.
Here is the original announcement of this meeting:
Public invited to community meeting on short-term rental regulations Aug. 16, 2016
The public is encouraged to attend a community meeting Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016, to provide input on an ordinance the City is drafting on short-term rentals (STRs) in Oxnard. The meeting will be held from 5-7:30 p.m. at the Oxnard Performing Arts & Convention Center, The Oxnard Room, 800 Hobson Way. Doors open at 4:30 p.m.
Staff from the City’s Development Services Department, Planning Division will provide the community with an overview of STRs and existing best practices for STRs. Staff will also discuss the proposed standards for STR operations being drafted for the City ordinance. Community members will be tasked with providing input on the proposed standards during the meeting.
Additionally, staff will review the results of the online survey conducted from late March through early April 2016 to gauge public opinion about STRs. The City received 840 responses. The public can view and download the results at www.oxnard.org/str.
The City will continue to issue meeting and public hearing announcements regarding STRs. Be sure to check www.oxnard.org/str for updates.
For more information, contact the Development Services Department, Planning Division at (805) 385-7858.
The Development Services Department oversees the City of Oxnard’s planning, traffic engineering, code compliance and building and engineering services. Read more about the department at http://developmentservices.cityofoxnard.org.
George Miller is Publisher of CitizensJournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant residing in Oxnard.