Huntington Beach City Council favors on-site owners for short-term housing


The Huntington Beach City Council moved closer to legalizing short-term vacation rentals in Surf City on Monday night, though with a high number of regulations.

Short-term rentals are currently prohibited in Huntington Beach residential areas, with the unofficial exception of Sunset Beach.

Council members listened to a presentation by David Bergman of Lisa Wise Consulting before coming to a consensus. They directed city staff to have an ordinance prepared, to be reviewed by City Atty. Michael Gates, allowing short-term rentals with a high threshold of regulations.


Short-term rentals are considered rentals of fewer than 30 days. The regulations include the requirement of having an on-site owner, minimum and maximum days of stay and a limit on the number of people per bedroom. Hosts would not be required at Sunset Beach rentals.

Short-term rental owners would need to register for a permit and pay a business license fee. They would also need to pay the Transient Occupancy Tax and pay into the Tourism Business Improvement District.

Despite short-term rentals technically being prohibited in Huntington Beach, many are available on sites like Airbnb and Vrbo. Bergman showed that there were 867 units available for rent from May 2019 to April 2020. Of those units, 74% of them were considered non-commercial, with only one unit per owner.

“We’re not going to be able to get rid of it,” Councilwoman Kim Carr said. “We’re going to have to figure out a way to effectively monitor it, enforce it, limit it. What we don’t want to see is the continued proliferation that we see happening through Huntington Beach ... A lot of times people think short-term rentals are only happening in the downtown area or Sunset Beach. But if you look at the heat map, we’re seeing this all over the city now. We’re seeing it next to Golden West College, you’re seeing it in Seacliff, you’re seeing it in southeast Huntington Beach. It’s everywhere, and we’re not getting our arms around it.”

More than 100 people gathered Sunday night to honor late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She died Friday at the age of 87.

Sept. 21, 2020

Mayor Pro Tem Jill Hardy said it was important to consider factors like property values and neighborhood character and she strongly favored hosted rentals.

“I think it’s important that we remember that we represent the residents of Huntington Beach, and not necessarily an absent owner who bought an investment and then creates a problem for our neighborhoods,” Hardy said.

Councilman Erik Peterson agreed that regulations were necessary.

“We do have it codified that you can’t rent for less than 30 days in Huntington, it’s illegal,” he said. “We have 867 people breaking the law ... I really think we have to have an enforcement plan on this. I mean, we should be enforcing now. It can’t be that difficult.”

Playground approved in Central Park

The City Council also voted 6-0-1 on Monday, with Councilman Patrick Brenden absent, to approve the design concept of a new playground in Huntington Central Park West.

The playground, a repurposing of an area formerly designated for group picnics, would have risk-based play features including cable/rope-based climbing activities. The project is designed for children ages 5 to 12 and has an estimated cost of $1.2 million.

“I think that this is something that’s really going to be a destination for a lot of families,” Carr said. “I know that when I had small kids, I would go to other cities to go to special, unique parks, and I think that building something like this will be like that. I think people will come from Seal Beach, they will probably come from Westminster or even Garden Grove to visit something that I think will be super-cool … This really is that cutting-edge of what playgrounds are, and having this facility in our backyard is going to be a true benefit.”

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