Pismo rebuffed on rental limits

The state Coastal Commission last week rejected a request by Pismo Beach to prohibit vacation rentals in residential parts of the city.

The city applied to amend its coastal planning rules, which must be approved by the commission, to ban homes being used as vacation rentals.

Such rentals frequently generate complaints from residents about noise, trash and parking problems.

Historically, the commission has frowned upon such bans, saying that they reduce the number of options visitors have for enjoying the beach and shoreline. This is particularly true in Shell Beach where lodging is restricted to larger, pricier hotels such as Spyglass Inn, Dolphin Bay Resort and Cliffs Resort.

Instead, the commission encourages local governments to adopt codes governing rentals to reduce these problems and allow vacationers to coexist with residents. For example, in unincorporated coastal areas of the county, vacation rentals in residential areas are allowed but additional regulations are in place in Cayucos and Cambria to minimize conflicts.

Jon Biggs, city development director, said the city will have to go back to the drawing board now that the request has been denied. “We will evaluate options and take some of them back to the council,” he said.

Surveys of property management companies found only 38 homes in the city being used as rentals, but the actual number could be higher.

Several homeowners wrote letters to the commission urging that the ban be rejected.

“This modification would discourage persons from visiting the coast due to having insufficient places to stay overnight,” said Shell Beach resident Marilyn Hansen. “Vacation rentals also help small homeowners who can earn extra income through use of their homes as vacation rentals.”

Also at its meeting Thursday, the commission found substantial problems exist with a duplex that is proposed to be built at the mouth of Pismo Creek. A full hearing on the development will be held at a later date.