As the number of people temporarily renting out rooms or homes increases, Sunset Beach residents brainstormed a list of rules for owners to follow if such lodgings are formally legalized by the city of Huntington Beach.
Short-term vacation rentals — typically for 30 days or less — are prohibited in Huntington Beach. However, in Sunset Beach — a neighborhood about a mile and half long along Pacific Coast Highway between Anderson Street and Warner Avenue — they have been allowed unofficially since the area was annexed into Surf City in 2011.
About 15 Sunset Beach residents, along with City Councilwoman Barbara Delgleize, met Thursday night at the Nobles Family Community Building to air concerns about short-term rental lodgings.
“How do you feel? How do you want to move forward?” Kevin Paulson, president of the Sunset Beach Community Assn., asked the group.
Sentiments were largely similar to those in most cities that have seen a boom in short-term rentals since they started gaining traction on online platforms like Airbnb.
Critics contend such businesses damage neighborhoods’ quality of life with party houses, loud noise and traffic and parking congestion.
Advocates say the lodgings can generate additional revenue for the city while providing affordable vacations for people who may not be able to stay at a beachside resort.
On Thursday, the residents reached consensus on rules they believe could help maintain Sunset Beach’s quiet charm.
The list includes:
- A room or house must be rented for a minimum of three nights or, alternatively, a week.
- Homeowners must personally vet their guests and provide parking.
- Limit the number of people allowed to stay in a home based on the beds available.
- Create fines for owners and guests who violate the rules.
- Establish an occupancy tax similar to that for hotel guests.
The list isn’t set in stone, and more meetings will be held if a pilot program officially allowing short-term rentals in Sunset Beach is implemented, Paulson said. The rules could serve as a model for the rest of Huntington Beach to follow, he added.
Delgleize and Paulson took notes that were to be passed along to city officials.
During the meeting, several people shared their experiences of living in a community that has become a hub for rentals and vacation homes.
Sunset Beach resident Jim Myers, 70, urged those “on the other side” of the issue to remember the people who grew up in the area when it was peaceful and quiet.
“I do understand it’s all about change and we have a little tiny community that has woken up to all these new Airbnbs and stuff,” he said. “I understand making money is what everyone wants to do and has to do, but there are some of us that have to go to work at 6 a.m. and our neighbors can’t be up until 3 a.m. in their Jacuzzi on their deck.”
Kathryn Levassiur, founder of the Huntington Beach Short-Term Rental Alliance and a vocal advocate of such businesses, said neighbors shouldn’t serve as code enforcement and suggested using technology to help monitor noise levels.
Ernie Robles lives in Seacliff, a gated community in Huntington Beach, but bought a small 1950s-era home in Sunset Beach last spring. His goal, Robles said, is to eventually move to the property permanently when his children are older.
Robles has listed the house on Airbnb the past several months. The minimum stay is four days, and he keeps his prices high, he said. He also drives by at night to check on the guests.
Holly Schlange, a longtime Sunset Beach resident, said she has listed her home for rent on Airbnb for three years.
Because parking in the area is limited along the greenbelt — a mile-long pathway near beachfront homes — and along Pacific Coast Highway, Schlange said she provides parking to guests. She urged others to do the same.