Home / Community / Commentary / Letters to the Editor / Letter to the Editor: Hotel Houses

Letter to the Editor: Hotel Houses

While I thank Staff for examining the increase of and impacts to the community from short term vacation rentals, I’m not sure the draft, as written, is the answer for our community for a couple of reasons.

To begin with, Oceanside has always been a place where many families have come to vacation for various reasons, to name a couple, affordability and our beautiful, sandy beaches.   Many years ago, planners had the forethought to plan for tourism and short term rentals and did so by creating Residential/Tourist (RT) District/zoning which allows for residential and/or tourist uses.  The RT District still exists and most of the properties within it have become short term vacation rentals (STVR).

The good thing about RT zoning – it is very clear to a buyer who purchases property within that district that the neighboring property may be a residential use or a vacation rental.

The bad thing about RT zoning – it no longer has value.  The entire city might as well be zoned RT as STVRs are popping up throughout the city with absolutely no regard to current zoning.  Rather than cite a code violation when using a home in an R-1 zone for a STVR, the city chooses to ignore its own code and instead register the house hotel and begin collecting transient occupancy tax (TOT) without the least bit of regard to zoning laws and the quality of life for those of us who live in R-1 zoning.

As it is, rather than addressing the problem years ago when we began seeing hotel houses creep into our R-1 zoned neighborhoods, the city is currently looking at an ordinance to welcome hotel houses throughout the city with the implementation of the “Good Neighbor” policy.  The Good Neighbor policy requires neighbors turn into block cops, and although I do agree with the idea of owner response deadlines and any fine applicable when the ordinance is violated, I do question the draft is on the proposed enforcement.

For example, just a couple of months ago, the planning commission granted neighborhood parking passes/district for those who live close to Caltrans park and ride.  Along with the impacts of the park and ride, that particular segment of the street has three very large vacation rentals.  In fact, one hotel house states it can sleep 28 people!  How will the parking passes be enforced once the ordinance is in place?  Will the owner of the STVR’s also have passes?  How can the city regulate parking? Well, the only way I see that happening is to place the burden of proof on residents.

Instead of asking the entire city to conform to a use/zoning that clearly does not belong in all neighborhoods, a much better solution might be to extend RT district/zoning to all properties located within our coastal zone (bounded by Coast Hwy, Vista Way, and the Harbor)!  In addition, if some feel some areas might be well served by changing to RT zoning, possibly areas close to commercial uses or historic overlays, let them petition for the change, but please keep STVRs out of R-1 zoned neighborhoods.

Although I do not live in a private community regulated by an HOA, we do have zoning laws, a planning commission, and a city council which serve as my HOAs.   We depend on them to require people abide by current zoning laws.  If we must extend the RT zoning to meet current demand, do so in appropriate areas – do not allow them citywide.  Call, write, or email the council and tell them, no short term vacation rentals in neighborhoods unless they are zoned residential tourist.

Shari Mackin
Oceanside, CA  92504