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Pismo Beach rolls out new short-term rentals regulations 

Pismo Beach residents hoping to make a few extra dollars by renting out their homes or rooms in the city for 30 days or less will have to comply with new regulations.

A recently approved ordinance will limit the use of short-term rentals, or STRs, to certain areas of the city, and also includes additional requirements for parking, occupancy, and inspections. The city hopes the new regulations will better balance the rights of property owners who rent out homes or rooms on a short-term basis with community concerns about traffic, noise, and other impacts from STRs.

"There are hundreds of people waiting for neighborhood protection and for these ordinances to go into effect," Pismo Beach City Manager Jim Lewis told members of the City Council at a May 15 meeting, shortly before they voted 5-0 to approve the new regulations.

The ordinance limits short-term rentals and homestays to detached, single-family residences that are the owner's primary residence, though this can include include accessory dwelling units. The regulations also require short-term rental owners to provide a certain number of on-site parking spaces based on the number of bedrooms they are renting. That ranges from one on-site parking space for a one-bedroom rental to a minimum of four on-site spaces for rentals with five or more bedrooms. The ordinance also caps maximum occupancy at two individuals per available bed.

Short-term rental operators must also follow a "good neighbor" policy, which lays out rules for noise, parties, and other issues to mitigate the negative impacts for short-term rentals on permanent residents. Owners will be required to submit to an initial inspection to ensure their short-term rental meets the requirements of the new regulations.

If STR operators fail to follow the ordinance, they can be fined between $750 for the first violation and $1,000 per night for subsequent violations. Lewis said multiple violations could also result in the city revoking the STR's license to operate in the city.

Pismo has long struggled with how to address the growing number of short-term rentals in the city. Initially, the city tried to pass an ordinance that banned them outright, but that was struck down by the California Coastal Commission. Subsequent regulations were approved, but were difficult to enforce and even led to some legal challenges, Lewis said.

"This whole quest started out with wanting to protect neighborhoods and to create a level playing field legal lodging establishments," Lewis said at a May 1 meeting shortly after introducing the new ordinances for first reading.

At that same meeting, several residents who operated short-term rentals through online apps like Airbnb said renting out their homes helped them offset the increasingly high cost of living in Pismo Beach.

"It's a great way for me to own a vacation home in an expensive area," said Collette Hillier, a SLO County resident. "The guests have been spectacular."

At the May 15 meeting, Mayor Ed Wagee noted the new regulations could be amended in the future.

"This is our first crack at it," he said. "We can certainly go back and make some revisions after we see how it's working." Δ

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