Short-Term Residential Rentals


On December 5, 2016, the City Council adopted a new, Urgency Ordinance Imposing a Temporary Moratorium on the use of Residential Property within the City of Del Mar for Short-Term Rental Housing and Excluding Current Such Uses, no. 925. The Urgency Ordinance was subsequently extended by the City Council on December 19, 2016 for a maximum of one year and 45 days from the expiration date of January 19, 2017.

In response to resident concerns that a growing number of short-term rentals being operated in the City may be having a negative impact on community welfare, the City Council established the moratorium (Ordinance 913) on April 4, 2016 and subsequently extended it on May 16, 2016 and October 17, 2016. The concerns raised include: increased noise and trash, loss of on-street parking, loss of housing opportunities, and changes in neighborhood character when a structure is used by visitors in "vacation mode."

The Urgency Ordinances were approved to allow time for staff research, public workshops, and the development of potential Municipal Code amendments to address the topic of short-term rentals on a long-term basis.

The Urgency Ordinance exempts short-term rentals that were in existence prior to the Monday, April 4, 2016 ordinance adoption date. Owners and property managers of short-term rentals should not submit any information to the City at this time; rather, they should have evidence of short-term rental readily operation available, should there be a concern as to whether a property is being used as a short-term rental in violation of the moratorium. The types of information that may be used to document an “existing” short-term rental are included in Urgency Ordinance No. 925, under Section 2 – Applicability (Subsection B). 

Key Points of the Ordinance

  • The ordinance imposes a temporary ban on any new use of residential property for a short-term rental (any property that is rented out for a period of less than 30 days) - after April 4, 2016.
  • The ordinance does not limit or stop current short-term rental uses, provided that the operators of such businesses can provide evidence satisfactory to the Planning Director that the property was used as a short-term rental before adoption of the ordinance.
  • The urgency ordinance will provide time for the City staff for performing research, gain public input and, based on the information gathered, draft new zoning regulations concerning short-term rentals. 

Important Dates

On January 17,2017, the City Council considered a request for a referral to the Planning Commission for an Interpretation pursuant to DMMC 30.01.020 to determine whether Short Term Rentals are an allowed use under the Municipal Code with the City of Del Mar’s Residential Zones.  The City Council
voted 4-1 (Sinnott opposed) in support of staff’s recommendation to refer the subject matter to the Planning Commission to make an interpretation in accordance with DMMC 30.01.020, Interpretation of Provisions.

On Tuesday, February 14, 2017, the Planning Commission heard the Interpretation of the Short Term Rental Use and was asked to make a determination as to whether or not Short Term Rental Use is an allowed use in residential zones under the existing DMMC. Two motions were made, one of which passed. The first motion was that the Commission finds that Short Term Rentals (STRs) are an allowable use.  Following much discussion, there was a call for the question and a vote was taken.  This motion failed 2 - 3.
Discussion ensued as to how the DMMC can be interpreted.  There was concern that since STRs were not listed in the code, Commissioners had nothing to interpret and therefore cannot say if STRs were permitted or not permitted.  Commissioners expressed that they were asked to interpret something that is not there to interpret and they should instead be interpreting code that addresses STRs (referenced ordinances of other cities).  A new motion was made by several commissioners.   “It (STR’s) is not in the code; therefore we cannot come to a conclusion.”   This motion passed 3 – 2 and the meeting was adjourned by the Chair.  

The City of Del Mar received appeals of the Planning Commission’s decision regarding Interpretation, I17-001.  The Initial Consideration of the appeal was heard by the City Council on March 20, 2017.  The City Council initially considered an appeal of the Del Mar Planning Commission’s determination regarding Short Term Rentals (I17-001), and set the matter for a de novo public hearing on April 17, 2017. 

The City Council conducted an Interpretation hearing on April 17, 2017 based upon two appeals of the Planning Commission’s February 14, 2017 hearing for the Interpretation Application No. I17-001 in order to determine whether STRs are an allowed use under the Code within the City of Del Mar’s Residential Zones.   After discussion and public testimony, the Council voted 4-1 (with Mayor Sinnott opposed) that the City Council finds that Short Term Rentals are not a permitted use in the Residential Zones, except for the Residential-Commercial Zone.   The linked resolution memorializes the discussion, findings and the zoning code interpretation: Resolution for I17-001

On May 1, 2017, City Council started discussions regarding the Process for consideration of Potential Regulations, Allowances or Permitting of some types of Short Term Rentals, and was continued to Saturday, May 6, 2017.

View the Agenda Here:  May 6th Agenda
View the Packet Here:  May 6th Staff Reports

On June 19,2017 (Part 1), and July 17, 2017 (Part 2), the City Council considered regulatory options presented by staff and provided policy direction for managing short term rentals in residential zoned through regulations, enforcement and a forbearance period for non-conforming uses.  City Council also discussed some possible exceptions to the STR regulations (i.e time-shares, Specific Plans and other unique areas).

On September 12, 2017, the Planning Commission will hear a request for recommendation to the City Council regarding amendments to the Del Mar Municipal Code (DMMC) and Local Coastal Program relating to Short Term Rentals.

Community Workshops

Workshops or other public meetings may be utilized to facilitate discussion about short-term residential rentals. To be notified about upcoming meetings, interested parties may register here.

Violations of Temporary Moratorium

To report a complaint about a short-term rental that is potentially in violation of the ordinance, please complete the Code Enforcement Complaint Form. Once a violation complaint is received, staff will perform an investigation and report back to the complainant on the status of the investigation.

Hotline 858 755 9342     submit complaint