Monterey County Vacation Rental Alliance

Supporting Visitors, the Economy & our Neighborhoods

Our Purpose

The Monterey County Vacation Rental Alliance (MCVRA) is a coalition of homeowners and property managers. MCVRA represents, supports, and protects residential vacation rentals by working with elected officials, government staff, and the media. It monitors legislation that could impact vacation rentals. Proposed laws and regulations are reviewed and a position is presented to government officials to get a win-win-win result – a win for the local economy, a win for neighborhoods, and a win for homeowners. 

What's New

Monterey County Planning Commission Hearing Cancelled

The Monterey County Planning Commission public hearing to consider preliminary draft regulations on short term rentals has been cancelled pending further notice. The hearing was scheduled for Wednesday, March 29, 2017 but has been postponed due to road conditions in Big Sur that make attendance difficult. 

Lewis v. Monterey County Lawsuit Appealed

The Pebble Beach owners who sued Monterey County last January, challenging the county’s rules prohibiting them from using their oceanfront home for short-term rentals, may have lost their case in Monterey County Superior Court, but the judge’s decision was so critical of the County, the owners have appealed to the California 6th District.   Click here for background.    Click here for Pine Cone coverage.

California Coastal Commission Strongly Supports Short-Term Rentals

The California Coastal Commission is getting much more proactive. The Commission sent a letter dated December 6, 2016 to jurisdictions all along the coast advising them to create/update their LCPs to allow short-term rentals. Click here for the letter. While it is very similar to the June 23, 2016 Coastal Commission letter discussed below to Monterey County signed by a district director, this recent letter is signed by Steve Kinsey, the Chair of the Coastal Commission. This recent letter also outlines some parameters of an acceptable ordinance. 

The recent letter furthers our efforts with Monterey County and is expected to have an impact with the City of Monterey and with Carmel-by-the-Sea, both of whom currently ban short-term rentals. Each coastal jurisdiction is required to periodically update their local coastal plan (LCP).  The Coastal Commission expects to see LCPs that have a permitting process for short-term rentals. MCVRA's attorney Gary Patton sent a letter to the Coastal Commission strongly supporting their position on short-term rentals and asking how the Commission intends to follow up with each jurisdiction.  Click here for Gary's February 2017 letter.

Earlier in June 2016, the California Coastal Commission (CCC) wrote a letter to Monterey County Resource Management Agency director Carl Holm stating short-term rentals (STRs) are allowed, not prohibited, in the coastal zone. This action by the CCC resulted from repeated communications by MCVRA directors and members with the CCC asking the Commission to intervene. Earlier in June MCVRA director Clyde Freedman advocated our position at length with Kevin Kahn, CCC District Supervisor. Our attorney, Gary Patton followed that conversation with a superb letter to the CCC outlining the issue in Monterey County and asking for CCC’s help. See Gary's June 2016 letter.

When the County issued its “interpretation” in July 2015 that STRs are prohibited in the coastal zone, MCVRA argued that the County was wrong and the “interpretation” did not comply with the Coastal Act. MCVRA believed the CCC would agree. The CCC has rejected other proposed bans on STRs in several coastal cities. Now the CCC has weighed in.

The CCC letter reads:

“At this juncture it is our (CCC) opinion that vacation rentals are allowable in Monterey County’s coastal zone under the LCP (Local Coastal Plan), and we highly recommend that instead of attempting to suggest they are prohibited or pursuing (citing) such prohibitions, that Monterey County instead work with us to develop regulations that serve to ensure Coastal Act-required protections are in place to address any potential concerns…”

“…efforts along these lines were undertaken by the County back in 1997, but those efforts were apparently discontinued. We would suggest that now is an appropriate juncture to restart that effort.”

The letter goes into detail and is well worth your time to read. Click CCC Letter. Of course none of this applies to non-coastal properties since the CCC has no authority there. And since the letter is addressed to Monterey County, it does not directly address the existing STR bans in the cities of Carmel by the Sea and the City of Monterey.

MCVRA continues to be in frequent contact with the Coastal Commission. On November 3, 2016 we appealed at  a Coastal Commission Workshop on Lower Cost Visitor Serving Accommodations. See press coverage. The Commission is very supportive of short-term rentals. It's staff recommended "that the Commission continue to support provision of short-term vacation rentals in the coastal zone. The Commission should continue to discourage bans and other broad prohibitions on vacation rentals, and it should continue to support local governments in developing reasonable and balanced regulations through LCP updates and/or new LCPs that address neighborhood and affordable housing issues while allowing for regulated short term vacation rentals in residential and other zoning districts."  See full report.

There is a lot of work before us. The CCC letter is a setback for STR opponents and we expect them to now push to have a very onerous ordinance. We need to make sure that the County doesn’t enact an ordinance that “permits” STRs, but permits them in such a way that has the same practical effect as a prohibition. The CCC will be on our side! 


Show your support for short-term vacation rentals.  Sign this petition to show the County Board of Supervisors that you want an effective short-term vacation rental ordinance. Please sign this petition and ask all your Monterey County friends, neighbors and colleagues to sign as well. To sign this petition, click on Petition for a Fair Ordinance.

Monterey County Planning Commission Workshop Summary

This is a summary of the November 9, 2016 Planning Commission workshop on short-term rentals. We were very pleased to have lots of our supporters in attendance.

Melanie Berretti, program manager a new short-term rental ordinance, suggested that different levels (intensities) of short-term rental use might cross “thresholds” thus requiring greater scrutiny during a permit application process, in other words, discretionary permitting. MCVRA argued that an ordinance that utilizes a discretionary permit process will result in a failed ordinance similar to the failed 1997 inland County ordinance. A discretionary permit process will result in an expensive (thousands of dollars) permit application cost with no assurance of getting the permit. We argued that this is precisely the reason the inland short-term rental ordinance is a failure. We argued in favor of an annual licensing system.

The speaker that clearly made an impact was Mark Brodeur, the Pacific Grove Director of Community and Economic Development. Mr. Brodeur presented a very clear summary of how Pacific Grove came to formulate their ordinance. He stated that they decided against a use permit that would “run with the land” and pass on to future owners. Instead, they chose to offer annual licenses in three tiers with affordable annual licensing fees of $250-$1000 depending upon the tier. It makes enforcement easy; the city can simply deny renewal of a license to bad operators next year. In the end, the Commissioners directed the staff to bring a draft ordinance to the Planning Commission. The Commissioners also directed the County staff to work with, not merely communicate with, the Coastal Commission to insure the ordinance will eventually get Coastal Commission approval.  Click here for more details on the workshop.

Short-Term Rentals Do NOT Impact Affordable Housing

Short-term rental (STR) opponents claim that STRs impact affordable housing. A survey was taken in September 2016 to determine if this is factual. STR owners were surveyed throughout incorporated cities and unincorporated areas of Monterey County. Here are the facts.

The survey found that 75.8% of all STRs are either the owner’s primary residence or a second home used by the owner, his family, and friends at times. 

STR opponents claim that banning STRs would result in more long-term housing. When asked what owners would do if STRs were completely banned, only 5.9% would offer their home as a long-term rental. The most stated reason that they would not rent long-term was the owners want continued use of the home for personal, family, and friends.

Then the question was asked, if the owner had no other option but to rent the home long-term, what would be the monthly rent? Only 9.1% would charge less than $2,000 per month. Combining these responses indicates only 9.1% of the 5.9% of STRs that would be offered as long term rentals might be considered affordable. This is just 0.54% of all STRs!

STRs will never become affordable housing. To appeal to visitors; STRs must be attractive residences in desirable neighborhoods. These properties are not "affordable."

Conclusion: STRs have NO impact on affordable housing. 

Click her for full survey report.


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