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Short-term vacation rentals on Huntington Beach City Council agenda

A 2019 map shows 821 active rental units within Huntington Beach.
A 2019 map shows 821 active rental units within Huntington Beach with a high concentration clustered near the coast, according to data presented by Los Angeles-based Lisa Wise Consulting.
(Courtesy of the city of Huntington Beach)

The Huntington Beach City Council on Monday night will consider permitting and regulating short-term vacation property rentals within Surf City.

The rentals, typically for 30 days or less, are prohibited in Huntington Beach, though many are listed on online rental sites such as Airbnb and Vrbo. They are unofficially allowed in the Sunset Beach neighborhood, which was annexed into Huntington Beach in 2011.

City Council members conducted a study session on Sept. 3, 2019, after advising city staff to provide analysis and options for the short-term rentals.

In anticipation of drafting a possible ordinance, a staff report prepared by Huntington Beach director of community development Ursula Luna-Reynosa is advising the City Council to consider approving and regulating short-term rentals with either low-, medium- or high-threshold regulations.

Low-threshold regulations include enforcing existing nuisance laws and making short-term rental owners register with the city and pay a transient occupancy tax. The city would establish a 24-hour hotline for short-term rental complaints, and owners would be required to send a notice to all properties within 500 feet.

If approved, the ordinance amending city code will be passed to a second reading at the Newport Beach City Council’s Oct. 13 meeting.

Additionally, low-threshold regulations would require the owner to post his or her contact information in a high visibility area in front of the property.

Medium-threshold regulations would also include new short-term rentals requiring a permit and business license fee, which must be renewed on an annual basis.

High-threshold regulations would require the owner to stay on site or within 500 feet of the property and enforce minimum and maximum days of stay. There would also be a limit on how many people were guests per bedroom.

A cap on the total number of short-term rentals in Huntington Beach, as well as a maximum amount of rentals in each neighborhood, would be part of the high-threshold regulations.

There has been increasing community support to approve short-term rentals in recent years, despite opponents’ quality-of-life concerns. The Huntington Beach Short-Term Rental Alliance was established in 2017 after a group of Airbnb hosts came together.

Monday’s City Council meeting begins at 6 p.m. and can be watched on channel HBTV-3 or online at huntingtonbeach.legistar.com. Residents may send comments on agenda items to supplementalcomm@surfcity-hb.org.

Communications received by 2 p.m. Tuesday will be distributed to the council prior to consideration of agenda-related items.

The council chambers will not be open for in-person attendance to provide public comment due to COVID-19, and residents are encouraged to submit comments via Zoom.

The Webinar ID is 971 5413 0528 and can be reached via the Zoom app, or by calling (669) 900-6833 and entering the ID. Individuals will be placed in a holding queue, and prompted to speak when the city clerk announces their name or the last three digits of their phone number.

Time for remarks is limited to three minutes.

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