Ventura vacation rentals OK in residential zones, judge rules

Ventura County Star |

--A Ventura County Superior Court judge has ruled short-term vacation rentals are allowed in single-family residential zones in Ventura's beachside community.

The decision, delivered via a minute order , quashes an argument residents in other communities have similarly made: that short-term vacation rentals operate as businesses and should not be allowed in residential areas.

"True as it may be that STVRs are typically operated for financial gain, the city, in drafting its ordinances, is free to define them as businesses or as family dwellings," Judge Mark Borrell wrote.

City officials said they were pleased with the ruling. "The term hotel has a very specific definition and short-term vacation rentals clearly do not fall under that category," assistant City Attorney Andy Viets said this week.

John and Carmel Whitman, who live in Pierpont and filed the suit in , disagreed with the judge's interpretation.

"Businesses are defined as monetary gain for services and/or items," he said. That's what a short-term vacation rental is, he added.

The Whitmans haven't decided if they will appeal the ruling. They're not ruling out moving out of the neighborhood, John Whitman said.

He wondered just how long he wants to pursue the issue. He said he first let the city know in 2005 the rentals were problematic and should not be allowed in residential areas since they operate like a hotel.

The Whitmans have another Pierpont home they lease to long-term renters. The two most recent families left because of the disruption caused by noise and activity associated with the short-term vacation rentals, Whitman said.

Borrell's ruling didn't consider the impact to neighbors.

"That plaintiffs may be adversely impacted by the users of certain STVR locations is not relevant to an issue of legislative interpretation," he wrote. "Plaintiffs retain the right to sue private property owners to abate a nuisance."



Ventura doesn't prohibit the rentals anywhere in the city, Viets said. "However we do regulate them, which is perfectly permissible under state law," he said.

There are 117 properties used for vacation rentals in the city, according to nuisance response plans filed with the city. The two-page form requires a contact to be available for any complaints 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They also must have a business license, rental permit and remit 10 percent of rent collected. The majority of them are in the Pierpont area.

The council voted in to study the fees charged on those who use their properties for rentals, the impact of the California Coastal Commission on setting rules, and the overall numbers and concentrations of the rentals.

In general, the commission had been supportive of the vacation rentals, arguing they increase beach access and affordable dwelling options to residents wanting to utilize the natural resource.

Council member Cheryl Heitmann recused herself from the vote because at the time nine vacation rentals were within 500 feet of her Pierpont home, but she spoke on the matter as a resident. She said parking was an issue and having so many rentals meant fewer homes available for long-term renters.

In Sonoma County, officials suspended all new short-term vacation rentals after fires destroyed thousands of homes last year. They worried adding more would make an already tight housing market worse. Ventura Community Development Director Jeff Lambert said he wouldn't rule out a similar move here.

In late 2016 and early 2017, the city held meetings on the rentals. A small stakeholder group was formed and feedback collected at the meetings will be used to help staff develop recommended changes to the ordinance regulating the rentals.

"We don't have a date certain but it is something we would like to formally bring to council in the next few months," Finance and Technology Director Gilbert Garcia said.

___

(c)2018 Ventura County Star (Camarillo, Calif.)

Visit Ventura County Star (Camarillo, Calif.) at www.vcstar.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to: http://www.equities.com/disclaimer

Comments

Emerging Growth

The Green Organic Dutchman Holdings Ltd.

The Green Organic Dutchman Holdings Ltd through its subsidiary operates as a cannabinoid-based research and development company in Canada.