Morro Bay adopts temporary moratorium on new short-term rental permits

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On Aug. 25, the Morro Bay City Council adopted a second 45-day moratorium on new short-term vacation rental permits in lieu of passing a new ordinance that's in the works.

The moratorium is sort of a recognition that everything’s changed due to the impacts of COVID-19, City Manager Scott Collins said.

CAPPED Due to COVID-19 concerns the city of Morro Bay has adopted another 45-day moratorium on short-term vacation rentals. - FILE PHOTO BY GLEN STARKEY
  • FILE PHOTO BY GLEN STARKEY
  • CAPPED Due to COVID-19 concerns the city of Morro Bay has adopted another 45-day moratorium on short-term vacation rentals.
“We want to make sure we have a really good balance in the community between all the concerns around community impacts but also economics, jobs, the tourism industry, and revenues to the city to help pay for the services we all depend upon,” Collins said.



Morro Bay is currently in the process of drafting an updated short-term vacation rental ordinance that will go before the City Council in September or October.

In the interim, the 45-day moratorium gives the city time to continue its process and the council time to review the draft ordinance and hand it over to the California Coastal Commission for final approval.

Short-term vacation rentals have been a topic of discussion for the city since 2016 when the council reviewed the current ordinance and directed staff to revise the policies to better address quality of life issues in residential neighborhoods, and including the ordinance in the General Plan/Local Coastal Program/Zoning update. Collins said the city was reviewing the ordinance because the number of short-term rentals in residential areas of the city grew exponentially in the 2010s.

“So the community was concerned about that and understanding which ones were legal or illegal,” he said. “Obviously, we need to put more comprehensive regulations in place.”

In 2018, the city adopted a 250 cap on the number of vacation rental permits that can be in effect within residentially zoned areas of the city at any one time.

Collins said the council eventually directed staff to take the short-term rental ordinance out of the General Plan/Local Coastal Program/Zoning update as the city was behind in that process.

The council directed the city manager to put together a committee of residents, vacation rental owners, Mayor John Headding, councilmember Marlys McPherson, and Collins.

At the beginning of the year, the city was ready to present the draft ordinance but put it on hold to address local COVID-19 impacts.

“By having a moratorium, it recognizes all those issues and keeps the industry in check, and that way we don’t have an over-proliferation going on right now especially when everybody’s concerned about public health,” Collins said.



The draft ordinance will include: displaying signage with contact information that indicates the property is a short-term rental, annual permit fees to provide funding for ordinance enforcement, a “good neighbor brochure” for guests, on-site parking, occupancy limits, trash management, and proximity requirements between short-term rental properties. ∆

—Karen Garcia

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