The longstanding disputes on short term rentals in Oxnard will be taken up by the Coastal Commission at its July 10 meeting, when it will rule on whether Oxnard’s new regulations governing rentals will be approved. The meeting starts at 9 am. You can watch online and/or comment:
https://www.coastal.ca.gov/meetings/agenda/#/2020/7 (Click July 10 meeting tab)
13. Local Coastal Programs (LCPs)
- July 2020 City of Oxnard LCP Amendment No. LCP-4-OXN-20-0008-1 (Short Term Rentals).Public hearing and action on request by the City of Oxnard to amend its Implementation Plan to add regulations for short term rentals. (DC-V) Submit Comment
SUMMARY OF STAFF RECOMMENDATION
The City of Oxnard is requesting an amendment to the Implementation Plan/Coastal
Zoning Ordinance (IP/CZO) portion of its certified Local Coastal Program (LCP) to add
regulations for short term rentals (STRs). Commission staff recommends that the
Commission, after public hearing, reject the proposed City of Oxnard LCP Amendment
No. LCP-4-OXN-20-0008-1 as submitted, and certify the proposed amendment only if
modified pursuant to 3 suggested modifications. The modifications are necessary to
ensure the proposed amendment to the IP/CZO conforms with, and is adequate to carry
out, the policies of the City’s certified Land Use Plan (LUP). All of the suggested
modifications were developed in cooperation with City staff. The motions and
resolutions to accomplish this recommendation are found starting on page 6 of this staff
Currently, the City’s certified LCP does not explicitly define, regulate or prohibit STRs.
However, STRs have historically operated in the City for many decades, particularly in
the residential neighborhoods nearest to beaches, and the City currently collects a
transient occupancy tax (TOT) on some of the existing STRs whose owners choose to
pay it on a self-reporting basis. Currently, without regulations in place, most STRs in
Oxnard operate without a business license, without paying TOT, and without a permit.
In recent years, with the advent of internet rental services such as Airbnb, HomeAway
and VRBO, the short term rental of homes, condominiums, and apartments in Oxnard
has substantially increased. The City has also observed an increase in the number of
issues and complaints related to STRs in residential neighborhoods, such as noise,
trash, and parking problems.
The proposed amendment would allow STRs in all residential zones and would define
“short term rentals” as the rental of a residential unit for a period of less than thirty (30)
consecutive calendar days. The amendment also defines two types of short term
rentals: vacation rentals and homeshares. A vacation rental is a type of STR in which
the owner of the dwelling is not physically present for the rental period. A homeshare is
LCP-4-OXN-20-0008-1 (Short Term Rentals)
a type of STR in which the owner of the dwelling is physically present for the rental
period. Both types of rentals would require property owners to obtain a short term rental
permit from the City to operate, subject to the standards and requirements that are
proposed in the subject amendment.
The proposed amendment would also limit the number of vacation rentals to no more
than 5% of eligible residential units in each of the four coastal zone neighborhoods
within the City: Oxnard Dunes, Oxnard Shores, Channel Islands, and Hollywood by the
Sea (Exhibits 1-2). The City estimates that there are approximately 5,000 existing
residential units in the City’s coastal zone, and approximately 230 of those are currently
STRs (which represents 4.6 percent of residential units in the coastal zone). The
percentage of existing STRs in each of the four residential neighborhoods range from
3.5 to 4.8 percent. However, within the Residential Beachfront (R-BF) zone of the
Oxnard Shores neighborhood (Exhibit 3), there is a higher concentration of existing
STRs – 17.2 percent.
In addition to limiting the number of short term vacation rentals in each neighborhood,
the proposed amendment would also limit vacation rentals within the R-BF zone of the
Oxnard Shores neighborhood to five percent in order to break up the existing
concentration of STRs within that zone so that STRs are more evenly distributed. The
proposed amendment would also require that vacation rentals be separated from each
other by 200 feet from property line to property line. Additional limitations on vacation
rentals include a three-night minimum stay and that a dwelling may be used as a
vacation rental for a maximum of 100 days per calendar year. The 5% neighborhood
cap, 200 foot separation, and 100 day maximum per year requirements would only be
applicable to vacation rentals. Homeshares would not be similarly limited.
The proposed amendment also establishes a variety of regulations for STRs intended to
limit neighborhood impacts from parties, noise, trash disposal, parking, and other
related issues that are often raised in terms of STRs and community character. These
proposed operational standards are generally similar to other standards the
Commission has approved for adjacent communities, such as for Ventura County and
the City of Carpinteria, as reasonable regulations to address potential STR issues.
However, the proposed vacation rental STR cap and 200 ft. separation requirements
are overly restrictive with regard to the R-BF zone portion of the Oxnard Shores
neighborhood, and Commission staff does not believe the amendment strikes a
reasonable balance between ensuring availability of short term rentals for coastal
visitors and preserving neighborhood character and long-term housing for local
residents. Additionally, in other neighborhoods, the separation requirements can serve
to restrict the percentage of the vacation rentals allowed below the 5 percent cap.
Although the City’s proposed 5 percent vacation rental cap for each of the four
neighborhoods may theoretically allow a slight increase in STRs per neighborhood
since the percentage of existing STRs in each neighborhood ranges from 3.5 to 4.8
percent, the 200 foot separation requirement between STRs may prevent a
neighborhood form hitting this cap. In some cases, imposition of the separation
requirement would result in the amount of STRs below the proposed five percent cap,
LCP-4-OXN-20-0008-1 (Short Term Rentals) even under ideal (for STR density purposes) spacing.
Further, within the Residential
Beachfront (R-BF) zone of the Oxnard Shores neighborhood, where there is a higher
concentration of existing STRs (17.2 percent) among the 93 beachfront homes, the
proposed restrictions would allow less than five vacation rentals STRs, leading to a
significant reduction of STRs in the City’s only residential beachfront area that is the
most desirable location for visitors.
Thus, the amendment, as proposed, does not adequately protect STRs as a valuable
visitor-serving accommodation (that can often be lower-cost than other
accommodations) within the City’s coastal zone. Nor does it adequately protect public
recreational and access opportunities (particularly in relation to the role that overnight
accommodations play in providing such opportunities). The restrictions would result in
reduced lodging options for the people who most need the economies of scale that
STRs can offer to groups and families visiting the coast.
In order to account for the relative desirability to visitors of some areas compared to
others, while also avoiding significant adverse impacts to neighborhood character and
housing stock, Commission staff is recommending modifications to the City’s proposed
vacation rental cap and separation requirements. Specifically, staff recommends a
modest increase of the vacation rental cap in the Residential Beachfront (R-BF) zone
from 5% to 10% (Suggested Modification 1), and a reduction in the separation
requirement within the R-BF zone from 200 feet to 100 feet. In addition, Commission
staff is recommending another change to exempt existing STR properties from the
neighborhood and R-BF zone vacation rental cap and separation requirement if the
owner of an existing STR property previously paid transient occupancy taxes to the City
and complies with the other requirements of the STR ordinance, including obtaining an
STR permit in a timely manner and operating in compliance with the STR permit. The
suggested modifications were developed in close coordination with City staff, and
Commission staff believes these changes would not unduly restrict the rental of
residences to visitors in a manner that will diminish the public’s ability to access and
recreate on the coast, nor detract from the City’s goal to preserve neighborhood
character. The amendment, as modified, also would preserve the availability of housing
stock and long-term rentals and would not affect affordable housing.
Therefore, staff recommends that the Commission approve the amendment with
suggested modifications. If modified as suggested, the proposed amendment is
consistent with and adequate to carry out the LUP.
George Miller is Publisher/Co-Founder of CitizensJournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant residing in Oxnard.