Murrieta City Council continues their discussion on short-term vacation rentals

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Murrieta City Council Workshop-screenshot.jpg - Murrieta City Council hosts a second workshop on short-term vacation rentals, continuing public comments and receiving feedback as well as providing direction for staff on how to proceed.. Valley News/Courtesy photo

Murrieta City Council held a workshop Tuesday, July 7, to discuss short-term rentals in Murrieta.

Chris Tracy, Murrieta senior planner, gave the presentation at the meeting regarding an overview of short-term vacation rentals.

It is the second workshop on the topic; the first workshop of short-term rentals was held Feb. 18. Comments were received by the public, and staff received general direction on a policy framework.

Short-term vacation rentals are a “rental of a residence or portion of a residence, rented by paying guests for short periods of less than one month,” according to Tracy.

There are two types of rentals: “whole-home,” rentals, which are also known as “non-hosted” rentals where the homeowner rents out the home but is off-site and “home-share” rentals, which are also known as “hosted” rentals where the homeowner is on the property during the guests’ stay.

Some benefits for short-term rentals include additional income for residents, increased tourism and retail revenue and improved visitor experience versus a hotel stay. Some drawbacks include issues or complaints about traffic, noise, parking and quality of life issues for residents, among others, Tracy said.

The ordinance framework then looked at operational accountability with a strict enforcement of fines and other measures, which could include suspension for a year in some cases.

With this accountability, the city could set up a 24/7 contact number with a 30-minute response time for operators of short-term rentals. At check-in, all renters would be provided a “Good Neighbor Brochure.” A limit of three vehicles maximum was introduced for on-site parking, and no parking would be allowed on the streets. A maximum occupancy limit of two people per bedroom was also instituted, and no special events are allowed during the duration of the rental, to cut down on partying.

Staff is looked at limiting the location of short-term rentals and capping them to single-family residential dwellings and accessory structures, such as a pool house or casita, not accessory dwelling units as that’s prohibited by state law, and to privately owned condominiums and townhouses.

The allowed zones would be rural residential, estate-residential, single-family residential and multi-family.

They’re also looking at a citywide limit of 300 short-term vacation rental permits; as of July 7, there were about 177 rental offerings, according to staff; before the coronavirus pandemic, it was around 220-250.

The next step is looking at permits and processing including having an annual short-term vacation rental permit as a requirement, an annual business license requirement, posting a temporary sign with a complaint hotline number and website during rental periods and documentation by phone if there’s an issue, which would go to the vendor and code enforcement or the police. Transient occupancy tax would apply, as it does with hotels.

For the next steps, staff recommended receiving public comment, providing consensus on “hosted” or “non-hosted” short-term vacation rentals and providing consensus on enforcement policy and other ordinance options.

The floor was opened up for quick questions from the council before opening it to public comments.

A few people submitted public comments in person on the subject; both in opposition and in favor. A number of comments were also received in written form and read by staff during the meeting.

Mayor Gene Wunderlich thanked everyone who came out to the meeting to give feedback, opinions and experiences and thanked those who submitted remarks through GotoMeeting and by email.

The council addressed some concerns; the first being parking.

“With regard to parking, we are having parking issues in the city of Murrieta, meaning that, I have many homes in my district, in my community where you have 10, 15 people renting a house because Murrieta’s a place people want to live, and rentals are rather expensive,” council member Johnathan Ingram said. “I see that being an issue across the board in the future, and how we would implement and enforce the issue with parking, where you have 10, 15 cars that are there all month-round, all year-round that may not even be an STR.”

Ingram asked city staff what the code was for single-family residences.

“For single-family residences where you have traditional guests, you are able when it’s a public street, you can have some guests use the street, but how we see this in the ordinance, no vehicles can be parked on a public street. They’d all have to be accommodated in the driveway or in the garage,” staff said.

Other discussion items were brought up by Ingram and staff before the council finished reading the written public comments that were submitted before the meeting.

For more information on short-term vacation rentals and the items discussed, visit https://www.facebook.com/CityofMurrieta/.

Lexington Howe can be reached by email at lhowe@reedermedia.com.