Coastal Commission Will Vote To Support Laguna’s STL Ordinance

STL Ordinance still in effect… Click here

Guest Letter by Roger Bütow – Click here

On December 14, 2017, The California Coastal Commission (CCC) made the decision to deny the City’s request to prohibit short term lodgings (STL) in residential zones. The CCC approved the City’s request for additional operational standards and to increasing the number of commercial zones that would permit short term lodging. Neither will become effective until the Laguna Beach City Council formally (through public hearing) accepts the Coastal Commission’s changes.

The City is currently operating under its existing STL ordinance which was in effect before it adopted the changes submitted to the Coastal Commission for review in December.

The next step is for the City Council to decide whether to accept the changes adopted by the Coastal Commission, file litigation, and/or to propose modifications to the ordinance in a new request. No decision has been made yet.

Stay tuned for regular updates on LBCHAT. For more details on the City/CCC meeting click here

The Deadline is this Fri, Dec. 8 by 5 p.m. to email the California Coastal Commission stating your support for Laguna’s ordinance banning Short Term Lodging (STL) in the town’s residential zones. If you are in support of this ban then here’s what to do:

1. Address your email to California Coastal Commission at and copy

2. Put on the subject line “Agenda item 19b on Thursday Dec. 14: City of Laguna Beach LCP Amendment No. 1-16 (LCP-5-LGB-16-0055-1 Short-Term Lodgings/Rentals)

3. In the body of the email, state your point of view immediately. One possible statement might be:

 Please grant Laguna Beach’s request for certification of its LCP Amendment No. 1-16 restricting new STLs to commercial zones only.

If you want to follow your general statement in an email with more content, the following are some suggestions.

Possible Topics:

1.    Your own experience with STLs in your neighborhood.

2.     Laguna Beach is already very visitor friendly with plenty of provision for their lodging and recreation and transportation (trolleys). The city funds Visit Laguna (our visitors bureau) with over a million dollars.

3.     Taking care of visitors already costs the city dearly in extra policing, fire and rescue, traffic control, providing parking, trash collection, transportation. Analysis shows that much of this extra cost is footed by resident taxes rather than being covered entirely by visitor spending.

4.     The CCC staff’s argument that more STLs in neighborhoods provides more affordable housing for visitors is merely an assumption. Many STLs charge as much as luxury hotels and many of our hotels are relatively affordable.

5.     STLs increase long-term rental costs, and cut down on available housing of all types, to say nothing of affordable housing. STLs in residential areas cannibalize rental housing stock otherwise available to older, long term fixed-income residents and artists.

6.     A high proportion of residents in Laguna Beach are generally supportive of the Coastal Commission and its mandate—denying our ordinance would be a blow to these supporters.

7.     It is truly impossible to adequately oversee and enforce STLs in residential zones—we and others have tried.

8.     STLs are often detrimental to neighborhoods, requiring residents to confront bad behavior or call the police, late night partying noise, extra trash and parking/traffic, etc. Quality of life for residents is adversely affected by STLs.

9.     Since the charm of Laguna is part of what brings people here, why allow diminution of that very charm?

10.  Many STLs run illegally, not even contributing to the city tax base, and pinning them down legally is surprisingly difficult. Then the fines that can be levied aren’t punitive enough to stop them.

11.  There is plenty of lodging (over 1,000 rooms at only 80 percent occupancy) in the commercial zones near the beach and restaurants. And we even have camping available at Crystal Cove State Park and Doheny State Beach. And this area of beach, recreation, shopping, restaurants and bars is where visitor want to go, so it’s more than reasonable that’s the area they’d want to stay in.

12.  The existing LCP of Laguna Beach prohibits commercial uses in residential zones, and STLs are clearly commercial ventures, as shown by the fact that most of the owners don’t even live in Laguna Beach.

13.  Realtors say being next door to an STL lowers property value. Obviously this alone is of concern to resident homeowners.

14.  Residents report a loss of the sense of security and community that come from knowing one’s neighbors.